Amapiano Selections

01/04/21Young South African DJ / Producer Teno Afrika Brings Us Sophisticated Debut Album Of Township-Inspired Instrumentals

Easter is here and with that we present you Teno Afrika's "Amapiano Selections" released late last year on the always stellar Awesome Tapes from Africa imprint. In case you were wondering, let us provide some more context: Like kwaito and diBacardi, the amapiano style of electronic music arose from the townships of South Africa, marked by a "DIY ethos" and "evolving from an underground sound to a nationwide mainstream staple," Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi's liner notes read.  Combining diverse elements from the country's musical past, amapiano is a smorgasbord of electronic and synth-led influences, often produced in internet cafés, distributed shared via online file hosts and promoted on social media. 

Teno Afrika is the nom de plume of young South African DJ and producer Lutendo Raduvha, who "spent the bulk of his life moving between different townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg and Pretoria." His debut album undoubtedly reflects these influences and "gives listeners outside the movement's online release economy an insight in the high-burn nature of amapiano," a movement with a loyal underground following that "spread through WhatsApp and other sharing platforms to become one of South Africa's most relevant house music genres of the hour," as Bandcamp's Megan Iacobini de Fazio puts it. “Amapiano is a genre that I chose because I have a passion for it,” says Teno “I started following amapiano in 2016 because I wanted to explore how it’s produced. It was not taken seriously in our country.” 

As such, Teno Afrika adds his personal touch to the young amapiano sound, "taking a more educated approach to production," blending deep house chords and synth stabs with intricate percussive patterns and vocal cuts to astounding effect and thus creating "a sophisticated sound that is palatable to both seasoned and uninitiated ears." In contrast to other amapiano producers, Teno Afrika pretty much subtracts vocals from the equation to focus more on the underlying groove. "It was my decision not to use vocals on this project," he says. "The reason is I wanted people to feel my instrumentals and style because this is my first album." And what an album it is, featuring eight brilliant productions with contributions by Silvadropz, Diego Don, Stylo Musiq and Flame Darula that should have you covered for the long weekend ahead.

You can listen to the full album via the Bandcamp player below.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom