Best New Music: DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small reunite with Ami Faku for soothing anthem, “Beliveki”
Best New Music: DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small reunite with Ami Faku for soothing anthem, “Beliveki”

Best New Music: DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small reunite with Ami Faku for soothing anthem, “Beliveki”

Another gloriously affecting song from a transcendental partnership

Amapiano is South African dance music’s current mainstream darling, and it’s become a major influence at the very centre of Afropop in the last few years. At the forefront of its widespread adoption are DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, the producers and DJs who jointly make music and perform under the Scorpion Kings moniker. In July 2019, the pair released their debut, eponymous album, a definitive album and a marquee moment that would go on to spark the subgenre’s South African domination, continental acceptance and increasing global recognition. Their strides with that album and subsequent, extensive involvement in all things ‘Piano have been a key factor in Amapiano’s mainstream recognition and popularity.

Early last year, the Scorpion Kings teamed up with Congolese-South African singer TRESOR for ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, and both producers have been quite busy ever since. Kabza De Small continued to hone his Piano Hub imprint through monumental breakout of Young Stunna, and he very recently released his critically acclaimed project ‘KOA II: Part 1’, which saw a plethora of features including Ami Faku, and Focalistic. Meanwhile, DJ Maphorisa got deeper into his rap vocalist bag as Madumane on smashes, “Izolo” and “Bopha”, while also teaming up with SOA Mattrix for ‘Tintswalo’.

Two years since they last headlined a project alone, the Scorpion Kings have returned with ‘Scorpion Kings Live Sun Arena’, a short project with an important context that dates back two-plus years. On the back of the awe-inspiring success of their 3-album run in the back half of 2019, Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa were scheduled for an arena headline concert in 2020, a crowning moment they pre-empted with ‘Scorpion Kings Live’, a star-studded project filled with new songs and a few remixes scheduled to be performed at the monumental event. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the arena concert was indefinitely postponed, and it’s now set to take place on July 22nd.

‘Scorpion Kings Live Sun Arena’ serves the same precursory role as the first ‘Live’ project, but just as its predecessor housed classic cuts like “eMcibini” and “Phoyisa”, this new EP houses six exuberant songs that reiterate why the Scorpion Kings are an unbeatable force in the Amapiano subgenre. On its second, standout track, “Beliveki (Live),” Kabza and Phori reunite with soul singer Ami Faku, building on their already proven chemistry. Last year, the trio combined for the emotive “Abalele” and groovy yet calming “Asibe Happy,” huge hit songs that benefitted from all-round mastery.

Similar to their previous collaborations, “Beliveki (Live)” lands on the gentle knocking side of the Amapiano spectrum, but this gently consuming effort is a bit more visceral than the trio’s previous songs, with Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa helming a more full-bodied beat. Ami Faku puts in an effortlessly compelling appearance, using lyric repetition and a delightfully restrained performance to reaffirm her position as a vocal powerhouse. It’s a combo that works like a dream every single time: sleek production by the Scorpion Kings is matched by Ami’s euphonious voice, both parts elevating each other and culminating in great music.


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From its bumping bassline to its rattling shakers, the song opens on an inviting note, settling into an alluring groove with syncopated drum pattern forming the rhythmic backdrop. The beat’s dynamic percussion is mashed with a lush piano chord riff and gleaming synths, with occasional percussive embellishment, as the malleable composition of the song makes it an experiential listen, the perfect sonic environment to highlight the featured vocalist’s gorgeous contributions. A structural detour from the form of their previous collabs, which included verses and bridges, the songwriting on “Beliveki (Live)” is mostly built around a chorus, with Ami Faku repeatedly chanting an anthemic passage to incredibly soothing effect.

That, after two previously released songs—and a handful of collabs with Kabza—Scorpion Kings and Ami Faku can add another gloriously affecting song to their increasing canon of collaborations is phenomenal. Perhaps, that’s the conceit powering DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small in their joint efforts, a duo capable meshing magnificently with each other and, maybe more importantly, curating magic with their vocal partners. “Beliveki (Live)” irrevocably seals the transcendental nature of the on-wax partnership of the trio involved in its making.

Listen to “Beliveki (Live)” here.