Amapiano pioneer Josiah de Disciple entered game armed with nothing but passion

Award-winning Josiah de Disciple patiently honed his craft

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Music producer and DJ Josiah de Disciple talks about the being at the teething moments of the amapiano genre.
Music producer and DJ Josiah de Disciple talks about the being at the teething moments of the amapiano genre.
Image: supplied

Witnessing the success of a genre he helped pioneer is one of music producer Josiah de Disciples greatest achievements.

Born Josiah Makoela, the award-winning DJ from Alexandra, Johannesburg, was at the forefront of the amapiano wave as early as 2012 – a time when people werent familiar with a genre that was developed from different sounds of music boasting an addition of drum, percussion, vibrant chords, vox, atmospheric basslines and acoustic melodies.

Armed with nothing but his passion for the sound, a young Makoela spent extensive hours in the studio honing his craft.

This has him working with the likes of late rapper Riky Rick, a remix of one of Sho Majozi’s tracks and working closely with a popular Kenyan group Sauti Sol.

Image: supplied

It has also seen him rub shoulders with Kabza de Small, DJ Maphorisa and MFR Souls who were also at the teething stages of the now global sound.

The 31-year-old is best known for his instalment in the amapiano DJ duo, JazziDisciples, alongside Mr JazziQ. The duo was formed in 2018, however, they split in 2021 to focus on their individual music careers. He is set to release his new album titled Sounds of Gomora. Gomora is the nickname of Alexandra.

Amapiano was greatly rejected in the music industry when we were pushing it back in 2012. We were coming with a different sound than what was big at the time which was house music. Our sound wasnt mainstream because it was mainly instrumentals which gave us a great disadvantage in terms of radio play, the DJ recalls during an interview with Time Out.

We only saw our genre gain momentum and relevance when it was absorbed by radio stations, perhaps because we started using vocals on the songs.

While the genre took six to seven years to grow into a phenomenon, Makoela explains that what kept him going and pushing the sound was the support he and fellow amapiano DJs [at the time] were receiving from people in the townships.

The funny thing is, as early as 2011, we may have not been mainstream with the sound on the radio or big music platforms but in the hood, our sound superseded many genres. Piano is generally a sound from kasi that was loved and appreciated by the masses from various South African townships– thats why it took time for everyone else to understand it,remarked the DJ.

Music producer and DJ Josiah de Disciple talks about the being at the teething moments of the amapiano genre.
JOS08160-Edit Music producer and DJ Josiah de Disciple talks about the being at the teething moments of the amapiano genre.
Image: supplied

"We used to go play at many clubs in the hood... to places such as Katlehong and hoods in Pretoria.

While he may have received criticism for a sound that didnt make sense from his industry peers, Makoela explains that he had to continue to push against the grind in order to cement and solidify his name in the music industry.

When the whole movement started, Kabza and I were working on our music and honing the sound. We had heard of each other from people in the hood but I hadnt met him when I was first starting out. We then finally met in 2020 and did two songs that were loved by other DJs – they'd include them on their set... this is where we noticed that this genre was gaining momentum, so we kept working on more songs, he said.

My collaboration with Kabza made me realise that as amapiano DJs, we are a lot strong when we bring our skills together and master them in our music.

Now that the genre has in the past four years grown an international footprint, the Ezizweni muso reminisced of a time he used to get paid R1,500 and a six-pack of cider as his rider [entertainment package] to play at clubs and social gatherings.

During this time, we as the pioneers didnt care much about the money, we just wanted to play a genre that was loved by the people, he chuckled.

Around 2018, JazziQ and I formed a group JazziDisciples. The reason behind our formation was because of the 30-minute slots wed get from promoters of clubs and venues because they had booked a huge number of DJs. So, we came together and thought we should rather play a full-hour set that gave us an advantage. JazziQ and I had a great run but due to personal reasons, we had to split.

FACT FILE: Josiah de Disciple

Food: Nama ya thlogo (meat from cow's head)

Actor: Luzuko Nkqeto

TV show: Lingashoni 

Musician: Culoe de Song, A Reece 

Song: Sekusele Kancane by me

Emoji: 🙏🏼

One thing Id like to do is give thanks to the people ekasi, they helped push this sound. If it wasnt for them, I dont think the world would be loving this sound as much as they are doing right now.

Puff Daddy is one of the first global stars to have been seen on social media jamming to amapiano in 2021 in a video he posted with the sound of Ke Star by Focalistic blaring in the background at a beach party. Others like Ludacris, Usher and Alicia Keys soon followed.  

When asked how he feels about amapiano now being an international genre, Makoela expressed how unbelievable it still was considering how hard they had to fight against naysayers and their criticism.

We were told by afro and deep house music producers that we wouldnt go anywhere with our sound. They claimed that our songs sounded the same and seemed like one long song to which they couldnt tell the difference. But Im glad today that they were wrong because they have crossed our shores and opened a lot of opportunities for many South African musicians.

One valuable lesson I learnt from this, is to never give up no matter who says what!

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