Perhaps American singer Swae Lee did not know the huge controversy he was getting into when he posted a tweet announcing his new Amapiono material on Tuesday evening.
‘’Wait till y’all hear Swae Lee on Amapiano,’’ he wrote on Twitter, followed by an emoji of the Nigerian flag.
Amapiano is a subgenre of music that emerged in South Africa in the mid-2010s. It is a hybrid of deep house, jazz, and lounge music characterised by synths and wide percussive basslines.
What Swae Lee did not anticipate was the swift reaction that followed.
The comments under his post were flooded mostly by South Africans who were enraged that he had dared to suggest Amapiano is a music genre synonymous with Nigeria.
In less than an hour, over 3,900 comments flooded his timeline, spiraling into a fiercely debated topic.
‘’Amapiano is a South African genre; do your research,'' tweeted @SA Hip Hop 247.
‘’This is the second international artist making this mistake,’’ wrote an enraged @iamdavejr.
@iamdavejr apparently was referencing the 2022 controversy over the same genre after South African artist DJ Maphorisa called out a fan for suggesting Nigerian music star Davido popularised the Amapiano in a Twitter post.
But counterarguments have come from Nigerians.
‘’Dear South Africans, no matter what you do or say, it won’t change the fact that Nigeria influenced Amapiano to be what it is now. No one knew what it was till Wizkid and Davido Jumped on it,’’ wrote one Oghenerie on Twitter.
As the backlash swirled and became a hot and trending topic, Swae Lee came back on social media to clear the air.
‘’I never discredited anybody. Sorry y’all read it that way. I never said anything about its origins in that tweet. I’m not taking that away from anybody."
Swae Lee further disclosed that he was partly Nigerian, and that was why he had used the flag.
But his biggest worry is the apparent division among Africans, which he says music has yet to heal.
‘’I think this has just opened my eyes to a whole lot of problems that we have, you know, this division... What’s up with this division? We need to come together and power each other,’’ he pleaded in a follow-up video posted on his Twitter page.
The debates in the past have been fierce because celebrities joined in the fray and took different sides of the argument.
Last year, Davido countered the comments made by DJ Maphorisa after he called out the fan, further heaping coal and fuelling the heated debate that raged for days.
DJ Maphorisa apparently learned after that and has now sent a strong message to all Amapiano fans around the world: ‘‘Amapiano is for all of us,’’ he tweeted on Wednesday as the memes and exchanges raged on social media.
Amapiano remains a huge genre export coming out of Africa, with close to two billion streams on Spotify.