In July 2020, a documentary called Shaya (which aims to map out the birth of amapiano and its rapid popularity as a genre) was released to a muted response. The 26-minute documentary opens with a quote from Mark Khoza (an MC, artist and associate of popular amapiano producer, Kabza De Small).
“There is a guy who would play the keyboard along to a DJ’s set. Even in the studio, he’d play the piano over the recordings. Later, someone else would come with the idea of infusing that practice with deep house. Eventually, Kabza De Small also played the same music. The genre used to be called ‘number’. But MFR Souls came up with the name ‘amapiano’ and popularized it. They are the ones who started it.”
The documentary covers much ground in the short distance it travels – interviewing other popular amapiano producers such as Jazzi Disciples, Kabza De Small, MFR Souls and the late Papers 707 (who was famed for his amapiano dance moves). It’s a necessary (if not imperfect) attempt at capturing the moment the genre finds itself in.