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"The Future Happened, Designing The Future Of Music" Explores The Art Of Music & Expands The Bounds Of Virtual Experience

Esperanza Spalding

Photo: Holly Andres

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"The Future Happened, Designing The Future Of Music" Explores The Art Of Music & Expands The Bounds Of Virtual Experience

Presented by the Museum Of Design Atlanta, the free online offering immerses visitors in the power of music and design, featuring 40 artists from around the world

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2021 - 11:53 pm

Today, April 9, the Museum Of Design Atlanta (MODA) debuted a visually and sonically stunning virtual exhibit dedicated to the interplay of design, art and music. "The Future Happened, Designing The Future Of Music" features stories, sounds, videos and images from 40 artists, including Burna Boy, Laraaji, Neneh Cherry, Charlotte Adigéry, Clipping, Nep Sidhu, Daito Manabe and Spillage Village.

A statement on the website explains: "This exhibition centers on creatives who invent new realities through design and music. Exploring innovation in design and technology that deepens our relationship with music, we open our eyes to new and radical narratives that have the power to transform our ways of being in the world."

To celebrate the new digital art space, the museum is hosting "The Future Happened: Curator's Talk" on Sat., April 10, from 3 – 4:30 p.m. EST. The curators—Lawrence Azerrad, Ruby Savage, Floyd Hall and Marlon Fuentes—will discuss the major themes of the works, how they created the exhibit and why creating this space was so important to all of them.

"The Future Happened is a celebration of the power of music as a form of community building, healing, interpersonal communication and placemaking. We are living in times of accelerated change that will challenge us with reimagining the role culture, technology and identity is utilized as a force for good," co-curator Fuentes, who is also the Global Music, Contemporary Instrumental and New Age genre manager at the Recording Academy, tells GRAMMY.com.

"Many of us futurists have been working on the other side of time for many years now, through fearless creativity and emerging technologies. This exhibit will showcase not only how we quickly adapt to a decentralized, borderless world, but also how the past informs the future so that more inspired creatives can shine their light on their own terms and design the future they wish to manifest."

Lead curator Lawrence Azerrad, a GRAMMY-winning creative director and author, also spoke to the power of the "The Future Happened:" "The exhibition opens our eyes to new and radical narratives that have the power to transform our ways of being in the world. It examines how design can be key in sharing our stories and amplifying our power to make a difference in the world, alongside exploring innovation in design and technology that opens our eyes to new and radical narratives that have the power to transform our ways of being in the world."

You can visit the free virtual MODA exhibit now at thefuturehappened.org.

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Here Are The Nominees For Best African Music Performance At The 2024 GRAMMYs
(From left) Asake, Arya Starr, Burna Boy, Davido, Tyla

Photos: Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images; TiVO; Prince Williams/WireImage; Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

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Here Are The Nominees For Best African Music Performance At The 2024 GRAMMYs

The five nominees for the inaugural Best African Music Performance at the 66th GRAMMY Awards signal the commercial and cultural prowess of the continent’s music.

GRAMMYs/Nov 11, 2023 - 02:36 pm

No matter who takes home the GRAMMY for Best African Music Performance, they’ll be making history in the process. One of three newly-added categories for the 2024 GRAMMYs, the award is a breakthrough for the African music industry, signaling the commercial and cultural prowess of the continent’s music.

"Giving African music its own category would highlight and celebrate the diversity and richness of Africa," Shawn Thwaites, project manager at the Recording Academy, said in a roundtable about the new category. "This is a great step forward!" 

African musicians have a long history at the GRAMMYs, from Ali Farka Touré to Wizkid. Artists of any African musical style can gain a nomination, whether they make Ethio-jazz, Ghanaian drill, high life, or kwassa. This year, however, one genre’s stars are shining particularly bright: Nigerian Afrobeats stars Burna Boy, ASAKE, Davido, and Ayra Star all netted nominations. 

And yet, this can’t be said to have been a conventional year for Afrobeats. The genre’s best and brightest have embraced the sensual, pulsating sound of amapiano, the South Africa-born house offshoot that has taken clubs from London to Lagos by storm. Three of the five tracks nominated take stylistic cues from amapiano, with ASAKE even namechecking the genre in the title of his nominated track. Meanwhile, South African Tyla’s blend of ama and R&B shows the pervasive nature of piano power across the field. 

Learn more about the nominees below, and see who takes the pioneering award during the 2024 GRAMMYs, held on Sunday, Feb. 4. 

"Amapiano"- ASAKE & Olamide

There are more established artists in this field, but none feel as momentous as Asake, whose rapid rise to fame feels at times like the Afrobeats equivalent of Beatlemania. Thanks to his deeply charismatic persona and spectacular stage presence, he’s become massively popular with just two albums under his belt. And speaking of spectacle, earlier this year he became the fourth Nigerian artist, behind Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy, to sell out London’s O2 Arena, entering on a helicopter.

The key to his appeal lies in his embrace of sounds from all over the continent, especially amapiano. His album Work of Art mixes the popular Afro-house offshoot with Mauritian séga music as well as fújì, an Indigenous Yoruba genre from Nigeria. 

"Amapiano" works as both a statement on the title genre’s popularity and a subtle flip on its conventions, rearranging elements such as the iconic log drum and combining them with dynamic rapping from Asake and featured artist Olamide. The song’s hook — "Steadily, steadily, heavily, we are getting lit" — is especially irresistible. 

"City Boys" - Burna Boy

There’s not a bigger star in Afrobeats, or even the whole of Africa itself, than Burna Boy. He nabbed two consecutive Best Global Album GRAMMY nods for his albums Twice as Tall and African Giant, and he’s also collaborated with global stars such as Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber.

After earning his first UK No. 1 album this year with the classic hip-hop influenced I Told Them…, featuring appearances from 21 Savage, J. Cole, RZA, and GZA, he’s firmly in his imperial era. It’s hard to get away with releasing a track called "Sittin’ On Top of the World" if you’re not doing just that. 

Yet it was "City Boys," that caught the Recording Academy’s attention this year. Produced by MD$ and Ruuben with a sample from Jeremih’s sultry R&B classic "Birthday Sex," the stomping, glamorous track reminiscent of late-’90s Timbaland beats highlights the path of influence from hip-hop to Afrobeats. In the song’s flashy video, Burna Boy rides around the streets of Los Angeles in a yellow Ferrari and matches an iced-out Richard Mille watch with a Wu-Tang Clan durag, paying tribute to hip-hop’s extravagance and braggadocio. The track also topped the UK Afrobeats Singles Chart in September

"UNAVAILABLE" - Davido Featuring Musa Keys  

Asake may have risen to fame based on his embrace of Amapiano, but Davido has been boosting the genre for even longer. Back in 2021 he joined forces with amapiano DJ and MC Focalistic on "Champion Sound," giving the style a crucial early foothold into the Afrobeats scene.

"Champion Sound" eventually became the lead single for Davido’s 2023 project Timeless, released after the tragic accidental death of his three-year-old son. It’s a record dominated by the forward momentum of Amapiano beats, and "UNAVAILABLE," the GRAMMY-nominated single from the album, is no exception. A brighter, smoother take on the sound with triumphant choral vocals on the hook, it features confident verses from Davido and collaborator Musa Keys. 

Considered one of Afrobeats’ big three along with Burna Boy and Wizkid, Davido first broke onto the scene in 2012. He’s since dueled with the other two artists for records and chart placements, such as Timeless beating Burna Boy’s album Love, Damini as the biggest debut for an album on Spotify Nigeria earlier. The album also gained the most single-day streams for any African album on Apple Music. 

"Rush" - Ayra Starr

With an anthemic tone reminiscent of Rihanna’s "Diamonds," Ayra Starr’s track was boosted up the global charts thanks to TikTok virality. Born in French-speaking Benin to Nigerian parents, the 21-year-old moved frequently during childhood, eventually ending up in Lagos to pursue music.

After a brief stint in modeling, she signed to the star-making Mavin Records label in 2020, only their third female act. This nomination is only the latest accolade for her: she’s already earned three Nigerian number one singles, a feature on Wizkid’s track "2 Sugar," and a spot on the soundtrack to Creed III

"Rush" is all about staying focused and grinding towards success. Starr sings about the cutthroat nature of the working world with determined fierceness: "Me no get the time for the hate and the bad energy / Got my mind on my money." The track may have a distinctive Afrobeats clave rhythm and Nigerian pidgin lyrics, but its glimmering synths recall early 2010s electro-pop from the likes of Robyn or Carly Rae Jepsen

"Water" - Tyla

The youngest nominee on this list and the lone South African artist, 21-year-old Tyla is already a star in her home country, having been nominated for two South African Music Awards.

With "Water," the lead single from her upcoming debut EP, she also became the first solo musician from South Africa in 55 years to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Largely driven forward by a popular TikTok challenge, the song debuted at 67 and has peaked at 21 so far. 

It’s easy to see the crossover appeal of "Water," which could be mistaken for an American pop song if not for the sweltering Amapiano instrumental underneath. Singing entirely in English, Tyla’s vocal delivery brims with confidence and desire, especially over the chorus — "Make me sweat, make me hotter, make me lose my breath, make me water" — while the song’s sweltering video turns up the heat further. 

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT. 

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Releases From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Blackpink & More
Selena Gomez

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Releases From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Blackpink & More

The summer of 2023 may be winding down, but its musical offerings remain white-hot. Check out some new songs and albums that arrived on Aug. 25, from Maluma to Burna Boy.

GRAMMYs/Aug 25, 2023 - 05:51 pm

The faintest hint of fall is in the air, but the summer of 2023's musical deluge continues unabated. Across genres, scenes and styles, the landscape continues to flourish.

We have Miley Cyrus's first song since Endless Summer Vacation — a vulnerable, proudly "unfinished" offering. On the opposite end of the vibe spectrum, Selena Gomez has thrown caution to the wind with the carefree "Single Soon."

And that's just the beginning — beloved acts from Burna Boy to BLACKPINK are back with fresh material. Before you dive into the weekend, add these songs to your playlist.

Miley Cyrus — "Used To Be Young"

On her first song since Endless Summer Vacation arrived in March, two-time GRAMMY nominee Cyrus avoids tidiness, and pursues honest reflection.

"The time has arrived to release a song that I could perfect forever. Although my work is done, this song will continue to write itself everyday," she said in a statement. "The fact it remains unfinished is a part of its beauty. That is my life at this moment ….. unfinished yet complete."

"Used to Be Young" belongs to the pantheon of "turning 30" jams; therein, Cyrus looks back on her misspent youth, and the attendant heat of the spotlight. "You say I used to be wild/ I say I used to be young," she sings. 

In the stark video, she gazes unflinchingly into the lens, without varnish or artifice.

Selena Gomez — "Single Soon"

Where Cyrus' new song bittersweetly gazes backward, Gomez's carbonated new jam "Single Soon" is focused on the promised reverie of tomorrow — sans boyfriend.

"Should I do it on the phone?/ Should I leave a little note/ In the pocket of his coat?" the two-time GRAMMY nominee wonders, sounding positively giddy about her unshackling from Mr. Wrong.

As the song unspools, Gomez gets ready for a wild night out; the song ends with the portentous question, "Well, who's next?" If you're ready to slough off your summer fling, "Single Soon" is for you.

Ariana Grande — Yours Truly: Tenth Anniversary

The two-time GRAMMY winner and 15-time nominee's acclaimed debut album, Yours Truly, arrived on Aug. 30, 2013; thus, it's time to ring in its tin anniversary.

Granted, these aren't "new songs," per se: rather, in a weeklong celebration, Grande is reintroducing audiences to Yours Truly.

Dive in, and you'll find "Live From London" versions of multiple songs. Plus — perhaps most enticingly — the sprawling re-release contains two new versions of "The Way," her hit collaboration with late ex Mac Miller.

Maluma — Don Juan

Papi Juancho is dead; long live Don Juan. "Fue un placer," Maluma wrote on Instagram last New Year's Eve. (It translates to "It was a pleasure.")

And with that, the Colombian rap-singing heavyweight ushered in a new character. He's now Don Juan — in a reference both to the fictional libertine and his birth name of Juan Luis Londoño Arias.

Now, Don Juan's out with his titular album — which he dubs a "mature" blending of the musics that got him going, like reggaeton, house, salsa, and hip-hop.

Burna Boy & Dave — "Cheat On Me"

Just over a year after his latest album, Love, Damini, Burna Boy is back with I Told Them… The Nigerian star offers another forward-thinking missive with his seventh album.

Featuring the likes of 21 Savage, J. Cole, and Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA, I Told Them… is one highlight after the next — and "Cheat On Me" is one of them. For the advance single, the GRAMMY-winning Afro-fusion dynamo teamed up with London rapper Dave.

Therein, the pair expound on getting out of their own way. The chorus, powered by a sample from British-Ghanian singer/songwriter Kwabs, sums it all up: "I couldn't see/ I was cheating on, cheating on me." 

Blackpink — "The Girls"

BLACKPINK are a bona fide cross-cultural sensation, but they won't stop at the music: they're a game now.

A little over a year after their second studio album, Born Pink, the acclaimed South Korean girl group has released a mobile app, succinctly called "The Game." Therein — and above — players can watch the video for "The Girls," their first post-Born Pink jam.

Don't say Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa didn't warn you: "Stop sign, we're burning it down/ Better watch out, we coming in loud/ Bang, bang, just playing around/ Don't mess with the girls, with the girls, with the girls."

The Killers — "Your Side of Town"

The Killers' beloved debut album, Hot Fuss, turns 20 next year; as a ramp-up, here's "Your Side of Town," a new slice of electro-pop from the Vegas crew.

The sleek, aerodynamic, Auto-Tuned "Your Side of Town" is their first single since their acclaimed pair of albums, 2020's Imploding the Mirage and 2021's Pressure Machine.

Here, the five-time GRAMMY nominees take a Pet Shop Boys-like tack with the music; lyrically, they're still putting the "heart" in heartland rock.

"I'm hanging on your side of town/ I notice when you're not around," frontman Brandon Flowers sings on the chorus. "Can't keep my cool, I'm burning inside/ A broken heartbeat, barely alive."

But the Killers — like everyone on this list — remain very alive.

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7 Incredible Sets From AfroNation Miami: WizKid, Uncle Waffles, Black Sherif & More
Burna Boy performs during day one of Afro Nation Miami 2023

Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

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7 Incredible Sets From AfroNation Miami: WizKid, Uncle Waffles, Black Sherif & More

At the inaugural AfroNation Miami, stars of the Nigerian Afrobeats movement joined by Caribbean artists, South African amapiano DJs and MCs, all of whom kept the sweltering crowds grooving until late into the night.

GRAMMYs/May 30, 2023 - 01:44 pm

If the inaugural AfroNation Miami could be described in one word, it’s hot — in all its meanings. 

With thousands of tourists descending on Miami for Memorial Day weekend, many of them celebrating Urban Beach Week, it should be a no-brainer to have a festival focused on Black artists and music from around the world. The thing is, Florida gets pretty balmy in the summer — in the 80s and 90s every day — and the high-humidity heat during the two-day fest felt almost unbearable at times. But artists and fans alike didn’t let the climate ruin their good time. 

An incredible selection of talent from across the African diaspora played to an approximately 20,000-strong crowd at LoanDepot Park, usually home of the Miami Marlins. Stars of the Nigerian Afrobeats movement including Burna Boy, Asake, and WizKid gave pulse-pounding performances, joined by Caribbean artists such as Jamaican dancehall talent Mavado and Panamanian reggaetonista Sech. Just outside on the stadium plaza, an entire stage of South African amapiano DJs and MCs kept the sweltering crowds grooving until late into the night. 

There were a few snags common to festivals. Some artists, like WizKid, showed up late to their sets. Others, like Beenie Man, dropped out entirely, only to be replaced by the charismatic up-and-comer Shenseea. But more often than not, the international crowd was granted a formidable festival experience, anchored by extraordinary sets from some of the best Black artists in the world. Read on to discover seven of the most jaw-dropping sets from AfroNation Miami. 

Asake Bares All-In Enrapturing Performance

Not even  clothes could contain Asake’s exuberance — the Nigerian Afrobeats rookie basically undressed himself slowly during his half-hour performance. First he threw away his neon green wraparound shades. Then he ditched his Louis Vuitton jean jacket on the stage floor. His chunky silver sneakers came off at one point, and he finished the rest of the set walking around in his socks. His ear monitor fell out during one of his many twirling dance moves and had to be replaced later by a stagehand. 

Eventually, that left his white tank top, which he’d been using to wipe away sweat for the whole performance. That came off at the climax of the show, when the singer stepped over the barrier to commune with the crowd. As a security guard supported him he leaned back in a crucifix pose, letting fans tug at his shirt until he finally tossed it into the throng. 

Asake has come a long way in a very short time. The 28-year-old dropped his first album just last year and has been making the media rounds in the states, appearing on "Jimmy Fallon" and "Good Morning America." He’s a star on the rise, representing the new wave of Afrobeats, its embrace of continent-spanning sounds like amapiano (which he namechecks in the title of one of his biggest songs), and its potential to go even more global than it already is. 

His stage presence signifies his world-conquering potential. He doesn’t interact with the crowd like Ckay or Burna Boy. He dances and sings, in a deep, sonorous voice, as if possessed by some spirit, staring into the middle distance, concentrating on nothing but leaving it all on the stage. It’s almost as if he was in a trance, and the moment he walked off after performing "Mr. Money," it felt as though everyone present had all snapped out of one as well, hypnotized by this one-of-a-kind talent. 

Black Sherif Spits From The Streets

Although he played to a sparse crowd early Saturday, Ghanaian rapper Black Sherif didn’t let that stop him from giving a blistering performance. Fans holding signs thanking him for songs such as "Second Sermon" had camped out in front of the stage, and he didn’t disappoint them, delivering a passionate sermon from the streets. 

As a proponent of the gritty Ghanaian offshoot of UK drill known as asakaa, Black Sherif was one of the few hip-hop-oriented acts on a bill dominated by pop and Afrobeats stars. He told stories of darkness and heartbreak with incredible focus and intensity, almost shouting his lyrics at the crowd in a raspy voice. Songs such as "45" feature lyrics in English and Sherif’s native language of Twi, and to his credit, his delivery was flawless through the entire set. He didn’t skip a single word, which is more than can be said for many American rappers. 

The drama of Black Sherif’s passionate performance climaxed with his final song, the hit "Kwaku the Traveler," weaving a tragic tale of falling from and grinding his way back to success. About 30 seconds in, the DJ let the beat drop out, leaving the rapper to finish the song with a captivating a capella. 

Burna Boy Withstands The Heat For Fuego Saturday Closing Set

Drenched in sweat, even Burna Boy eventually needed a break from the heat. After eight songs straight of passionate performance, he finally turned to a stagehand and declared "I’m gonna need some water." 

The fiery performance was the climax of AfroNation’s Saturday lineup, and Damini Ogulu did not disappoint. Backed by a full band even larger than Asake’s, with backup singers, dancers, a brass section, and a drumline playing African percussion instruments, the global superstar dripped with charisma as well as perspiration. His million-watt smile shone brighter than any of the lights in the LoanDepot Park stands as he strutted around the stage and blazed through solo renditions of his biggest hits, including "Secret," as well as tracks from his recent album Love Damini such as the Ed Sheeran collab "For My Hand." 

With pyrotechnics, smoke machines, and a stadium full of adoring fans at his disposal, the king of Afrobeats put on an incredible spectacle in Miami, with the most iconic moment coming at the end as the entire ballpark sang the chorus of "It’s Plenty" a capella. But an even more iconic moment may have been after performing his Dave collab "Location" when he recovered a Haitian flag, waved it around, and wrapped it around his neck like a bandanna. Out of all the flags being waved in the audience, this is the one that matters most in Miami with its huge Haitian diaspora population. And when Africa’s biggest star bore it proudly, the crowd erupted. 

Ckay Celebrates Love And Money On The Main Stage

Before he went onstage at AfroNation Miami, Ckay’s DJ declared him "Africa’s number one boyfriend." It was easy to see why: Not only did he perform some of his most romantic songs, but the Nigerian singer spent much of the show making eyes at the crowd. And making heart symbols with his hands. And peace signs. 

It seems the fans loved him back. The phones all came out upon hearing the opening strains of closer "Love Nwatiti" (a massive international hit and the first No. 1 on Billboard’s Afrobeats chart) and the crowd roared with approval upon hearing the sweet guitar melody on "Emiliana." "This is my first time doing this song in Miami, I want you to make some noise!" he declared. 

The show wasn’t all about romance, however. Penultimate song "Hallelujah" is an ode to cash money, and Ckay displayed his clout by bringing out featured rapper Blaqbonez to perform his verse. "If you wanna make some money this year say ‘Ohhhhh,’" the singer said to the crowd before jumping into the amapiano-influenced track. Money and talent — maybe he would make a good boyfriend. 

Major League DJz Offer A Scorching Set Of South African Sounds

More than anyone else at AfroNation, Major League DJz showed the world-conquering potential of amapiano.

Closing the stage on Sunday night, the duo ran through a scorching set of amapiano favorites, even slipping in an immaculate remix of Beyoncé’s "CUFF IT" while a succession of MCs pumped up the crowd. Shifting the vibe at will — from intense, futuristic rave and trance-indebted synth tracks to lighter tunes with soulful piano and organ chords, and always with eruptions of log drum bass and skillfully-deployed delays, filters, and other effects — they kept the crowd enraptured and in thrall to the power of ‘piano. So deeply in command of the audience were they that a guest appearance midway through the set threatened to derail it entirely. Atlanta rapper Kali took the stage to perform her song "Area Codes," and the trap-influenced track felt like a wrench thrown into the Majors’ finely-tuned amapiano machine.

Kali wasn’t the only guest appearance, as by the end of the set, it felt as though the entire Piano People collective had come on stage. Over a dozen people stood behind, in front of, and even on top of the decks, celebrating their success and lending their collective energy to give the performance a feeling of unstoppability. The MCs hyped up the crowd, the dancers (including the previous night’s headliner Uncle Waffles) danced, and the rest basked in the vibes of the by-then-bursting crowd. This is how Africa raves, and the rest of the world would be smart to follow along. 

DJ Uncle Waffles Brings Impeccable Femme Energy To Piano People Stage 

While the stars of Afrobeats took the stage inside on the LoanDepot Park field, outside the stadium the Piano People stage had the feel of a block party. Focusing on the ascendant South African dance genre of amapiano, the stage brought some of the scene’s biggest talents to Miami.

It was Saturday night headliner Uncle Waffles, also the only female artist to headline either stage, that offered the purest take on what makes the genre exciting. Looking like a Matrix character in a black jumpsuit and neon-green hair, the South Africa-via-eSwatini DJ put up a powerful mix of amapiano tracks, including her own massive hit "Tanzania." The pulse of the log drum bass and the steamy rhythms felt right at home in the swampy humidity. 

While many of the loudest, most energetic voices at the stage were MCs such as Focalistic and Musa Keys, Waffles, despite primarily DJing, quietly behind the decks. She would often start a track and jump to the front of the stage to join her dance troupe, themselves dressed in cheerleader-style outfits, in thrilling, coordinated dance routines. The energy and enthusiasm onstage and in the crowd manifested itself the most in these moments. 

WizKid Shows He's The Star Of The Show

WizKid knows he’s a star (he was calling himself "Starboy" long before The Weeknd) and at his festival-closing set on Sunday night, he delivered a star experience, taking the stage from atop a massive stair-shaped backdrop designed to let him descend from high above the rest of us. 

Wearing sequined black pants, a leather fedora, and shades that never left his eyes, Wizzy strutted back and forth on the stage like a proud lion, performing the biggest hits from his massive catalog. Some guests came out, such as Buju for "Mood," while the artist let the crowd sing-along to Drake’s verse on "Come Closer." The instrumentals seemed to switch between a DJ and a live band, both of them obscured by the stage setup. 

At other sets such as Burna Boy and Asake, the band was a major feature; here there was nothing to distract the crowd from Big Wiz. He absorbed their love like a sponge, and may have caught some thrown underwear from the crowd too. 

Much was made by the artist of the global nature of the crowd. Wizzy started out his set by shouting out all the Caribbeans, from Jamaica to Trinidad and certainly Haiti, present in the audience, before moving on to Africa. "I see your flags, I see you repping for your country right now," he said. "This is a sexy ass crowd tonight, baby!" 

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