Music Genres That Originated From South Africa

Here are all the music genres that originated from South Africa.

In all of Africa, South Africa has one of the most diverse music industries in the continent if not the most. Some of the biggest music genres originated from Mzansi and have gone far beyond our shores into various other parts of the African continent and the world. Some of these genres are old, while some are quite new. Here is a list of all of them.

1. Gqom

The popular Gqom genre emerged in Durban, South Africa in the early 2010s. It is a genre of electronic House music which features a consistent thumping sound. The consistency of the beat birthed its title. It developed from House music, Kwaito and Techno. It was pioneered by DJ Lag, Rudeboyz and more.

2. Amapiano

Amapiano is a type of House music, which originated back in 2012 in Gauteng, South Africa. It blends elements of Deep House, Jazz and lounge music. The genre is distinguished by high pitched piano melodies, 90s SA House rhythm, and Kwaito basslines. It has become one of the biggest music genres in Africa as at 2020. It was popularised by Kabza De Small, DJ Ganyani and more.

3. Mbaqanga

Originating in the 1960s, Mbaqanga is a style that features rural Zulu roots which continue to inspire artists worldwide. It developed in the Shebeens and was popularised by Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe and more.

4. Maskandi

This is a type of Zulu Folk music that continues to evolve with the society. Due to its Zulu heritage and influence, it is largely popular and hugely consumed in the KwaZulu-Natal province. It does not really connect with large audiences because many fail to understand it. It has been popularised by artists including Mbuzeni Mkhize, Imfezi Emnyama, and more.

5. Kwaito

Derived from the word “Kwaai” which translates to “angry”, it is South African equivalent of western Hip Hop, and pop. However, it is not a mere imitation of the African-American genre. It was popularised by Bongo Maffin and more, and continues to grow bigger each year.

6. Marabi

Marabi originated in South Africa in the previous century. It was birthed during the development of township slums in gold mining areas around Johannesburg. It has musical links to American jazz, ragtime and blues, and is deeply rooted in the African tradition. Cape jazz performers including Basil Coetzee and Abdullah Ibrahim helped push the genre.

7. South African jazz

Simply put, this is the jazz of South Africa. It originated from South African musicians trying to imitate popular jazz musicians. It was popularised by Hugh Masekela, Kippie Moeketsi, and more.

8. Kwela

Kwela is a pennywhistle kind of music taken from the word “Kwehla” meaning climb. It was used in the Shebeens as an invitation to dance or a warning about the police’s arrival. It is a blend of the music of Malawian immigrants in South Africa and local South African sounds. It was popularised by Lemmy Mabaso, and more.

9. Isicathamiya

This is a form of singing that originated in the Zulu regions of South Africa in the 20th century. It is done with the vocals. You can also call it Acapella. It originated from a blend of traditional music, culture and spirituality. It was popularised by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

10. Mbube

This is a form of vocal music, which is mostly done as Traditional Acapella. The word itself means “Lion” in Zulu. The usually involves singing by a group of male vocalists. However, a few groups have female vocalists. The genre was also popularised by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

11. Xhosa music

For a long while, this genre has been a major part of South African music especially in the field of jazz. It is majorly expressive, and communicative, expressing words and sounds. It also involves physical movement which are employed while clapping, dancing or playing an instrument. It was popularised by Miriam Makeba and more.

12. Township music

Township music can be any of various music genres. It was created by Bantu people living in poor, racially segregated urban areas in the 20th century. It may include the following genres; Mbaqanga, Kwela, Marabi and more. It was popularised by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela, and more.

13. Cape jazz

This is a genre of Jazz that is performed in the very Southern part of South Africa. Its name makes reference to Cape Town, South Africa. It began to emerge in the late 1950s with the formation of The Jazz Epistles. It is quite similar with the “Marabi” genre.

14. Shangaan electro

The Shangaan electro is described as a dance movement or a musical style which is born from the reboot of local folk traditions in the townships, Tsonga Disco, and Kwaito House in the 21st century. In the Limpopo province, it is called Tsonga Electro. It has spread across various parts of the world.

15. Tswana music

This genre is performed by Tswana people in South Africa during feasts and special occasions. Instruments used include the Segaba, and the setinkane. After being discouraged during the colonial era, it has been revived in Botswana. It is also popular in various parts of the world although not much.

16. Kasi Rap Music

Kasi Rap is a sub-genre of South African Hip Hop. It is famous in urban areas in South Africa, and is delivered raw and hard, and involves lyrics about the state of things around them. It was popularised by the late PRO who passed in 2018. He is credited to have made SA Hip Hop what it is by popularizing Kasi Rap.

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