🎹🎹PİANO! PİANO!🎹🎹 - a song appreciation thread for “eMcimbini” by Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa ft. Aymos, Samthing Soweto, Mas Musiq & Myztro

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Let’s not mince words: this song is a miracle, and it has no business being this good. Here’s why:

It rolled off the 24/7 production line of South Africa’s (hell, the world’s) most prolific producer duo* as part of an album, Scorpion Kings Live, (their fourth/fifth* in nine months’ time!), that looks and smells like a cynical cash grab, serving as a crass promotional tool for their upcoming stadium show in Pretoria, the home of the amapiano genre. (this is what the “Live” in the album’s title and all its track titles refers too. it’s a studio album! the only info missing on the artwork is the ticket prices!)

Even the lyrics can be read as a commercial for “the event” - one meaning of “umcimbi”, of which “emcimbini” is the locative case:
“at the event, that’s where you’ll find me”

Like I said, this song has no business being anything special. And anyway, shouldn’t these guys have run out of great songs to make by now? How many “Akulaleki”s (ILM’s #42 track of 2019), “Tender Love”s, “Love You Tonight”s and “Amantombazane”s can one team even make, realistically speaking?

But any such qualms and considerations simply dissolve during that gorgeous long intro, and then Samthing starts to sing and it’s an ode to amapiano, a celebration of its lure and its power:
“piano! piano! we don’t sleep at home because of you”

It truly is a miracle, but such is the magic of pop music, folx!

breastcrawl, Tuesday, 18 February 2020 23:28 (one month ago) link

tl;dr: it’s just amazing to me how these guys collectively keep coming up with new ways of beautiful.

There’s so many things I love about this, I’ll name one: iiii-iiii aaa-aaaa iiii-iiii-iya

But... I’ve done way too much talking already, so now you tell me: what do you like about this song? Let us count the ways!

breastcrawl, Tuesday, 18 February 2020 23:30 (one month ago) link

Piano! Pi-a-no!

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 00:18 (one month ago) link

yeah this is sweet

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 00:53 (one month ago) link

good stuff cheers!

nxd, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 02:26 (one month ago) link

Didn’t know all that about the album’s provenance but IMO the whole thing bangs.

Evans on Hammond (evol j), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 03:13 (one month ago) link

Yes, the whole album is fantastic, apologies if that didn’t come across. And just two months after the previous one! It’s mind-blowing - how do you keep that up? Kabza is a special one.

(there’s an instrumental track called “Dizzy Genius” on his solo album, it’s tempting to read something into that)

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 06:57 (one month ago) link

Phoyisa sounds pretty fierce in the mix.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 08:47 (one month ago) link

Very grateful for the translations, breastcrawl! It’s basically the greatest infomercial of all time.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 20:16 (one month ago) link

lmao at the Spotify tracklist appending "Live" to every track on the album just to make things more confusing

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 20:27 (one month ago) link

man, i've loved every dj maphorisa-related song i've heard so far. gonna check out the full live album soon enough.

ooga booga-ing for the bourgeoisie (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 20:49 (one month ago) link

just from jumping around btwn them the last little while I can't really pick out individual songs on these albums and tbh I kinda prefer not to and to just luxuriate in the wonderful sameness instead

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 20:55 (one month ago) link

“luxuriate in the wonderful sameness”, I like that phrase! (though I find there is actually plenty of variation, maybe more so on Scorpion Kings Vol. 1)

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 21:09 (one month ago) link

And thanks, longneck! A little Google Translate + Basic Zulu Online can go a long way. Wouldn’t trust GT to give me more than an indicative translation for more complex phrases (like here in the verses), but the hooks are pretty unambigious, so I felt fine serving them up like this.

Also learned that “ama-“ is a prefix that makes certain classes of nouns (including loanwords) plural. So “amapiano” simply means “pianos”! (or maybe in this case something like “all things piano”?). Hey, so “Amazulu” means “Zulu people” - and “Ama2000” (a song title I’ve come across more than once recently) means “the 2000s” and possibly by extension “the 21st century”.
I sort of want to learn a bit of Zulu now!

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 21:41 (one month ago) link

my dad had "learn zulu" tapes around the house when i was a kid, so i got "yebo baba, njani" at my fingertips and not much more.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 19 February 2020 22:24 (one month ago) link

ha, lots of “yebo”s in SA music, never realized before what it actually means. ngiyabonga, forks!

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 22:54 (one month ago) link

or alternatively, dank je wel!

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 22:56 (one month ago) link

voodoo chili, allow me to stress once more that this amapiano stuff is Kabza’s thing. He’s one of the originators of this sound. My impression is that Maphorisa acts more like an executive producer. He’s also got a ton of clout and connections in the business, and who knows who came up with the crucial idea to have “real” singers like Samthing and Sha Sha sing over these amapiano beats. But as for the sound and the beats I’m pretty sure most of it is Kabza.

It only dawned on me recently (call me naive) that the reason those big name SA producers (the grootmans, big shots, or, learn Zulu with me, amagrootma(a)n) always seemed to effortlessly adapt to every new style (I mean, gqom is quite a different beast from either kwaito or amapiano), is, duh, they employ talented up-and-comers and take the credit themselves.

Maphorisa and Kabza are doing this differently. This may or may or not have something to do with the drama that ensued between Prince Kaybee and TNS early last year, when TNS, the young kid who ghost produced Kaybee’s monster hits “Club Controller” and “Banomaya” for him with a unique new sound, demanded full “credit”. This might have been his way to generate publicity and kickstart his solo career, but it brought the wider issue out in the open.

Either way, it’s pretty clear Kabza and Maphorisa made some kind of deal when they partnered up, to their mutual benefit: Maphorisa could surf the crest of the amapiano wave, and Kabza would be able to establish himself swiftly through this shortcut (though I doubt either had any idea of just how phenomenally big their impact would be). It’s not a coincidence that only their first album was credited to “DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small” and all three collaborative albums after that to “Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa”.

All of this to say: it’s obviously fine to name and credit Maphorisa, the man has gone places and knows a thing or two, but not to the exclusion of Kabza, just because he is the lesser known one.

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 19 February 2020 23:24 (one month ago) link

That makes sense. Thanks.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Thursday, 20 February 2020 09:40 (one month ago) link

how do these guys keep doing it.

Thybulle on the Dash (Spottie), Friday, 21 February 2020 23:01 (one month ago) link

noted, thanks breastcrawl.

ooga booga-ing for the bourgeoisie (voodoo chili), Friday, 21 February 2020 23:03 (one month ago) link

I must say though that a huge part of their appeal is how seamlessly the quite different vocal parts are sewn together. In most other genres (rap), someone lays a verse, good or bad, and the producers do their best to make it fit. But these songs sound absolutely composed and organic, with hook following hook. If that’s Maphorisa, he’s doing a pretty decent job.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Saturday, 22 February 2020 06:32 (one month ago) link

This is fun: an open-air DJ set this weekend, with Kabza playing and Maphorisa as hype man. Unfortunately there’s only a snippet of “Emcimbini” at the start:


breastcrawl, Sunday, 23 February 2020 22:13 (one month ago) link

(Whisper it): I've listened to Emcimbini a few times and while it's quite pretty, I'm just not sure what makes it particularly remarkable

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Monday, 24 February 2020 13:41 (one month ago) link

i like it, but yeah i'm in similar territory right now

dyl, Monday, 24 February 2020 14:55 (one month ago) link


human and working on getting beer (longneck), Monday, 24 February 2020 16:11 (one month ago) link

we’ve come too far to give up who we are
so let's raise the bar to Kabz’ and Maph’risa

we’re up all night 'til the sun
we’re up all night to get some
we’re up all night for good fun
we’re up all night to PİANO

breastcrawl, Monday, 24 February 2020 18:46 (one month ago) link

In things I realised shockingly late:

a) that beautiful iiii-iiii aaa-aaaa iiii-iiii-iya in the intro is lifted straight from “Thanda Wena Part 2” on Samthing’s album! This may be relevant to what longneck talked about above: Maphorisa knowing (and using) a hook when he hears one? (assuming it was his idea)

b) Sha Sha is Zimbabwean! (she was also already on Maphorisa’s Blaqboy roster - he brought her into amapiano)

c) the first verse isn’t sung by Samthing, but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9QP55Rv71A">by Aymos!
My original notes were: “Samthi‪ng is using his voice in new and unexpected ways”, but I had no idea, even though it’s right there in the track info: “featuring Aymos, Samthing Soweto, etc...” ‬But their voices are remarkably similar, check “Uvalo” on The Return Of The Scorpion Kings.

Aymos is also on another current hit:
Mas Musiq ft. Aymos, DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small • Zaka

Love this live performance of it:
His original non-amapiano version from earlier in 2019:
Aymos • Zaka

(I also posted a brilliant track he’s on on the Sun-El thread over the weekend)

breastcrawl, Tuesday, 25 February 2020 09:08 (one month ago) link

I fucked up the link to Aymos’s own announcement of the imminent release of “Emcimbini”:

breastcrawl, Tuesday, 25 February 2020 09:18 (one month ago) link

Yeah I’m thinking the voice blending thing is a feature not a bug, lol. This is what I’m talking about. These guys use voices in remarkably seamless ways.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Tuesday, 25 February 2020 12:04 (one month ago) link

4’15 = best moment

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 07:58 (one month ago) link

following my last post, I woke up with this in my head today so it's definitely worming its way in

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 10:14 (one month ago) link

So many best moments

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 11:39 (one month ago) link

name ‘em!

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 12:14 (one month ago) link

0:34, 0:51, 1:25, 1:29, 1:59, 2:15, 2:24 etc etc etc

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 12:40 (one month ago) link

0:34, 0:51, 1:25, 1:29, 1:59, 2:15, 2:24 etc etc etc

even this se(le)ction is incomplete: I would add 0:17 and 01:40.

another highlight: 3:53/4:10.

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 13:08 (one month ago) link

we need audio gifs!

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 13:09 (one month ago) link

I’m not disagreeing

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 15:29 (one month ago) link

the way he says PI AH NO is cool. as a person who plays the PI AH NO, i certainly appreciate sounding cool.

ooga booga-ing for the bourgeoisie (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 15:39 (one month ago) link

Thank you so much for this thread. A miracle of a song.

I am a huge fan of the utterly badass 'Lorch' from these guys - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbbfdjk51OE

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 21:39 (one month ago) link

You’re in luck!
I made a pseudo-pan-African-pop/not-pop playlist for the rolling afro 2020 thread and all Afro-adjacent threads, generously defined. It’s already 105 tracks deep, so enjoy!

(update: now 106, including “Lorch”)

ILM rolling ✳️all-inclusive✳️ afro 2020

breastcrawl, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 21:48 (one month ago) link

i love this shit so much!

(•̪●) (carne asada), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 21:56 (one month ago) link

such an avalanche of great music coming out of SA, feel like I need a ballot poll just to get a grip on the past 18 mos or so

rob, Sunday, 1 March 2020 16:12 (one month ago) link

okay yeah this song is great

dyl, Monday, 2 March 2020 05:14 (one month ago) link

Piano! Pi-a-no!

― human and working on getting beer (longneck), woensdag 19 februari 2020 1:18 bookmarkflaglink


breastcrawl, Thursday, 5 March 2020 21:47 (one month ago) link

Still the undisputed #1 in South Africa.

Parodies are being made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqfym6iPM88

A car, a drone, dancing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75ZIfaQ-wU

Same car, same drone, singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXiTA6-lDmU

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Sunday, 15 March 2020 00:56 (three weeks ago) link

Corona cancelled The Event, it seems. On the upside, Maphorisa and Kabza are dropping four new projects:

"1st April 2020 we dropping ‬
‪Scorpion Kings Live 2 Ep‬
‪Daliwonga’s Ep ‬
‪Mes Musiq x Aymos’s Ep‬
‪Mdu Aka Trp x Bongza’s Ep"‬

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Monday, 16 March 2020 09:17 (three weeks ago) link

...followed by Amapiano Burnout: The Movie

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Monday, 16 March 2020 10:20 (three weeks ago) link

lol at "the true story"

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 16 March 2020 13:30 (three weeks ago) link

DJ Neptizzle's new Amapiano mix is available to stream as a podcast through Spotify:

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Thursday, 19 March 2020 23:28 (two weeks ago) link

So this happened last Saturday, after SA had moved into a “state of national disaster” where gatherings of more than 100 people were prohibited:

Let’s Party👌🏻 pic.twitter.com/N7VI6qjkc1

— #ThePianoKing (@KabzaDeSmall_) March 21, 2020

Here’s a Facebook link to Kabza x Maphorisa’s set. (You can find several uploads on YouTube as well, but I suspect they may be taken down.)

Maphorisa takes over from Darque around 01h09, and is joined by Kabza a bit later. Their set continues until 01h59, after which it’s DJ Zinhle’s turn. There’s a few hiccups in the signal but who cares, and holy fuck at all these new jams and bangers! Sha Sha, Aymos, and check out that Kwesta joint at the end!

...The bad news is that today SA went into lockdown mode, bracing for the worst.

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Monday, 23 March 2020 22:59 (two weeks ago) link

thanks for this set ... gonna share

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 02:22 (two weeks ago) link

this is really some of the most exciting music on the planet to me right now

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 02:32 (two weeks ago) link

Absolutely, I think we’re in complete agreement there.

And btw, thank you for posting that Neptizzle mix, longneck! It’s absolutely fantastic. He doesn’t stray too far from the Kabza path (with a bit of Vigro on the side), but then why would he? Hearing all of these tracks, familiar as most of them are, in a mix like that is something else. It worked wonders for me, truly a balm for the soul.

Here’s a Soundcloud link, for those who can’t or won’t Spotify:


No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 08:18 (two weeks ago) link

oh wow this Neptizzle mix is vital! I'll even overlook him dropping his producer tag over Samthing's crooning in the opening of eMcimbini

rob, Friday, 27 March 2020 13:33 (one week ago) link

try their own Quarantine Online Party dj set next

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Friday, 27 March 2020 14:22 (one week ago) link

Live right now on Maphorisa’s FB:

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Saturday, 28 March 2020 22:04 (one week ago) link

Man, these guys are NOT running out of steam anytime soon.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Saturday, 28 March 2020 22:18 (one week ago) link

It’s on YT now


human and working on getting beer (longneck), Sunday, 29 March 2020 14:49 (one week ago) link

I am adding the genre on RYM btw if anyone is there as well.

Nabozo, Sunday, 29 March 2020 15:48 (one week ago) link

doing god’s work ;-)

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Sunday, 29 March 2020 17:02 (one week ago) link

There was a new and excellent live set last night and it's still up on Maphorisa's FB page. It struck me that these guys physically remind me of Asterix (Kabza) and Obelix (Maphorisa) - all they need now is a tiny dog.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Friday, 3 April 2020 08:16 (five days ago) link

This would be the link: https://www.facebook.com/Djmaphorisa/videos/2804107232959360/

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Friday, 3 April 2020 08:17 (five days ago) link

yeah, that’s a great image lol. Kabza jumping behind the decks while working in his studio or out dj’ing is etched in my brain as a gif already. They’re probably self-isolating together as well, with the work ethic they’re maintaining.
Hope I have time to listen to these sets tonight.

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Friday, 3 April 2020 09:10 (five days ago) link

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