Liyadlal’iPiano, the 2019 documentary series about amapiano, is finally available for viewing. The docu-series was initially supposed to premiere on 24 September 2019 but never saw the light of day then due to legal disputes. It was reported that the creator of the show Arthur Sebela obtained a court order which stopped MTV Base from airing it.
Now, almost two years later, the docu-series has had a title change, from Behind the Amapiano Movement to Liyadlal’iPiano. The new title references a lyric from the 2019 smash hit “Kokota Piano” by Bizizi and Kaygee Daking, alongside Killer Kau.
The documentary unpacks the story behind the genre and delves into the origins and insights of the amapiano lifestyle and culture.
Force of MFR Souls, who are often considered as the genre’s pioneers, speaks on the origins of the sound:
“I wouldn’t say that we are the founders of amapiano, but there’s a couple of guys that we actually worked with back then to make this sound more popular, more powerful. I can say that 95% we dominated into putting this sound into where it is today.”
In a 2019 press release, Monde Twala, former vice president for youth, music and BET at Viacom, said: “MTV Base led with Gqom Nation and now leaps ahead with the Behind the amapiano Movement. We continue to champion talent, music and street culture for lovers of music and dance. The new wave is here to entertain and showcase the freshest sound taking Mzansi by storm.”
SubGenres are always the dynamites that come in small packages.
During its underground days, the genre was often shunned upon and criticised and when it became mainstream circa 2018/9, many believed that it was not going to be around for a while. Today, the ever-evolving amapiano is globally embraced and sought-after. Some of the world’s biggest musicians like Usher, Diddy, Alicia Keys etc have shown a liking to the genre. Amapiano artists are performing and collaborating with artists from all over the continent and some parts of the world.
Amapiano songs have played in three episodes of OVO Sound Radio and Scorpion Kings (Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa) scored themselves a guest mix on the latest episode to showcase their TRESOR-assisted album, Rumble In The Jungle. All this love from Oliver El-Khatib, Drake’s longtime manager and co-founder of OVO Sound, has led to a number of people speculating that Drake may jump on a ‘piano (or amapiano-inspired) beat soon.
Liyadlal’iPiano: The Growth
Speaking about the adoption and incorporation of amapiano by artists outside the genre, one of the genre’s stalwarts, De Mthuda expressed:
“I’m excited that they are hearing [feeling] what we’re doing but what annoys me is that they are doing it their own way and not how we would have done it, that’s why you hear some guys complaining that ‘they are taking our amapiano beat’. If you want to make amapiano, go [collaborate with] the original amapiano [artists], don’t start your own thing that we don’t understand.”
On the same topic, DJ Sumbody shared:
“Music is open to everyone, you must be open-minded. Ke [it’s] music, anyone can do anything, anytime, as long as it’s musical and if people receive it well, there’s nothing you can do.”
While a bit dated, the docu-series does a good job at telling the backstory and developments of amapiano by interviewing some of the genre’s pioneers and participants, as well as some industry veterans and insiders. Liyadlal’iPiano makes a compelling addition to the documentation of the genre and adds to the list of documentaries, which include SHAYA! and Yakokota.
Liyadlal’iPiano airs every Thursday and Friday at 13:00 CAT on MTV Base (DSTV channel 322) and is also available on MTV Base Africa YouTube channel.