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Night of Amapiano as Maphorisa thrills Nairobi


 South African Dj Maphorisa. (Photo/Instagram-Dj Maphorisa)

You could see that the crowd was waiting for that particular moment - South African Dj Maphorisa's walking on stage.

The opening acts Malonza and Smolls had done their part, and it is a tough job opening for Phori - the headliner. However, any unfamiliar person could tell how the crowd reacted to the bright and breezy opening song Shona Kwelana.

Not your typical party starter, the earworm vocals created a party. The vocalists' soulful voice floated gently as Maphorisa fiddled with knobs and buttons on an elevated booth with the words Level Up flashing.

The dancefloor filled and only then did the level really go up.

The song is one of the more popular hits from the Banyana hitmaker's recently released album Ba Straata, a collaborative work with Visca. The titular track of the project Ba Straata would close Maphorisa's set two hours later and cap off a mesmerising night.

And if Phori was not performing at The Winning Post, Nairobi, on Saturday, it could well have been a late night set in any city in South Africa from the Zulu lyrics belted from the psychedelic crowd.

Knowing he had his crowd captive, Maphorisa let them sing.

'Ngikuxolele my baby, you didn't mean it and Ha, eh ya, uvus' abalele.'

Easily one of the biggest, and most sought after hitmakers in Mzansi, and largely credited for mainstreaming Amapiano, Phori played a two hour set that closed past 3am on Sunday.

It wasn't until 1am that the crowd caught a glimpse of him, standing out in a silk headwrap, Balenciaga T shirt, and Louis Vuitton bag, and escorted to the stage in a file of his attendees and security.

It was worth the wait for a fascinating night of impeccable bass and pulsating lights.

Yet the spectacle wasn't Maphorisa himself, but the reaction he drew from the crowds.

The crowd went absolutely wild during his set, jumping and dancing harder than they had at any time of the night.

There were yanos (Amapiano enthusiasts) in the building, those who could gyrate their bodies, lean back and jerk their heads; those who knew the lyrics word for word; those who knew the track coming on next at the first percussion; and those who were there for the kick of the log drum.

It was a revelation for the first-timers that Amapiano is meant to be enjoyed on the dancefloor, with the speakers thumping and the body vibrating.

The DJ and producer played many of his own songs, including Bopha, Banyana, Izolo, and many viral songs of the genre such as Umlando, but also threw in a few minutes of Afrobeats and crossover tracks.

On songs where he has contributed his vocals such as Izolo, Maphorisa paused the music and broke into his verse.

The crowd responded much more powerfully to the songs from Maphorisa's collaboration with Kabza De Smal, particularly Abalele and Asibe Happy.

Kabza was at Winning Post two months ago and the remaining days of the year still promise more Amapiano and Afro House acts.

Prince Kaybee, Themba, Josiah de Disciple, and Mellow and Sleazy all have dates set out for them.

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