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Meet the voices behind amapiano: South Africa’s sound of freedom

In this short film accompanying Dazed’s autumn 2021 story, Moonchild Sanelly introduces us to the voices at the heart of the country’s rising sound

In a new short film accompanying Dazed’s autumn 2021 story, South African musician Moonchild Sanelly takes us inside the world of amapiano – South Africa’s rising music subculture which sees a new generation of Black youth celebrating the country’s long history of resistance.

Titled Amapiano, South Africa’s Sound of Freedom and directed by Nadezna Radcore and Mahlatse Nare, the film follows Sanelly as she travels deep into the changing sounds and streets of Katlehong – a neighbourhood in south east Johannesburg. Here, she speaks to artists and musicians about the story behind amapiano and what it means to them.

“I feel like amapiano has been integrated into our society to a point where it’s already involved in our political issues,” states music producer Rascoe Kaos, referencing Lady Du’s song “uZuma Yi Star”. “The way I see it, amapiano is the new hip hop right now.” “Amapiano is freedom of expression from South Africa,” he adds.

Rapper Tee Jay, who introduced Kaos to the genre in 2017, states: “We grew up in a disadvantaged background, so I’m glad that out there there’s a kid who’s able to get gigs in amapiano and can feed their family… On top of that, there are riots, there’s a lot of things going on in South Africa, but you still have those producers… who are making more music so you can feed your families. It’s working.”

“At the end of the day, amapiano is a fusion of sounds. (It) actually accommodates everyone, whether they’re young (or) old… because you can sometimes find grandmothers dancing to amapiano, and that’s something we should take pride in.”

Other artists in the film include DJ Phatstoki, producer Neo Makate, and rapper Sir Trill – who each share how the sound has evolved over time and changed their lives.

The short is the first installment of Dazed's new video series, Youth Uncovered, which will explore youth culture and movements across the globe. Read more about amapiano from Dazed’s autumn 2021 story here, and you can buy a full copy of the issue here. Watch Amapiano, South Africa’s Sound of Freedom below.

Directed by Nadezna Radcore and Mahlatse Nare

Video Commissioner - Sylvia Hong 

DOP - Kabeer Shaik

Executive Producer - Cat Lindsay 

Editor - Daniel Luke 

Production - Cake. and Rumanya Films