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B Side, Music

Bounce Best 50 African Albums of 2022

Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall in 2020, Wizkid’s Made in Lagos in 2021, who takes the number 1 spot in 2022?

  • 1st January 2023

For the third year running, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best albums you should be listening to in the new year, especially if you missed any of the releases. 2022 got jam packed with albums from different parts of the continent and we have filtered through the sound scape to make your life easy.


50. Gbagada Express – Boj


Gbagada Express boj


One of the OG “alte” pioneers, BOJ has spent the past few years gifting fellow artists with verses as well as releasing the Pioneers joint album with his DRB bros. His return project, Gbagada Express is his first since 2017 and it showcases the growth he has achieved on his sonic journey while still retaining the deceptively soft (and sometimes humorous) delivery that has kept us wanting more from him. A key feature of Gbagada Express is BOJ’s decision to lean fully towards collaboration which has always been one of his core strengths. Of the 16 tracks on the album, only three are solo tracks, signifying his understanding of teamwork. — Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


49. JAMZ – Sarkodie


Sarkodie Jamz


JAMZ, Sarkodie’s tenth studio album, is the seasoned rapper’s take on the current West-African pop soundscape. It plays like a carefully curated playlist, with each record, save the Amapiano-inspired “Confam”, featuring a talented singer. On “Labadi”, the King Promise-assisted opener, the 37-year-old skillfully encircles King Promise’s saccharine hook with a buttery sing-rap flow. He does the same on the sultry “Cougar” with features a standout hook and verse from Lojay, while on the tail-end of the 10-tracker he enlists fellow Ghanain rapper Black Sherif for an inspirational, Hip-Hop-infused cut titled “Country Side”, reminding everyone he might currently be in his pop bag but he’s still one of the hardest to do it. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


48. Palmwine Music 3 – Show Dem Camp



Ghost and Tec continue to swing between roles as bona-fide rappers in their own right and curators of current Nigerian music sounds with each album. Palmwine Music 3 features an expansive cast as usual, including as fine a consort of vocalists about as can be assembled on any one Nigerian project. The topic of discussion: love, in its many stages and forms, but mostly in the earliest blossom when its reciprocation is not yet assured. The album’s production supports its title, as it relies on excellent guitar work and hand-beaten drums that draw from the Palmwine Music genre that was once West Africa’s primary music export. The pair then insert themselves in ever-changing roles on different tracks, their dynamism of delivery and inventiveness with features allowing them to create from a much wider scope than their “rap” tag lets on. As large as it is, Palmwine Music 3 carries no passengers, and Show Dem Camp is able to inspire every guest to their potential, a quality that  continues from every other album of the Palmwine series. — Patrick Ezema


47. Jellyfish – SirBastien



SirBastien is undoubtedly one of the most exciting acts in the country right now. The upcoming artiste from Ibadan is a skilled multi-instrumentalist multigenre singer among other things. While his singing and songwriting are noteworthy, what’s most interesting about the talented act is his production chops that allows him to create in ways many might not even attempt. It is to his credit that he performed, wrote and produced all tracks on the EP save two.The bubbly titular opener gives way to more experimental sounds incorporating drum machines, electronic synths and interesting percussive rhythms. Jellyfish is filled with interesting, daring and most especially different records, many of which differ from the plethora of run-of-the-mill records you might hear around. — Abayomi Olusegun


46. Sunset Stories: A Mixtape – Jay Jody


Sunset Stories: A Mixtape - Jay Jody


The thing about South African rap music is that it always sounds fresh. Fresh instrumentals, fresh delivery and fresh artists that took a Western genre and gave it a national twist. Jay Jody ticks all those boxes on Sunset Stories. He is as real as it gets, relaying pieces of his consciousness and all that goes on within it as he grapples with the realities of growth as a person and as an artist. Across the project’s 12 songs he is braggadocious, trippy and introspective as the need arises, as he put together one of the most promising projects out  of Africa this year. — Clarence MacEbong


45. Amagama – Nomfundo Moh


Amagama - Nomfundo Moh


Nomfundo Moh, a fast-rising South African pop star, possesses a golden voice. The KZN-born singer initially had a brief dalliance with House music, her divine vocals floating over hypnotic, percussive rhythms. But singing over crisp, Pop-inspired production — courtesy of close collaborators like Martin Manqoba Sosibo and NaXion Cross— is where she’s found the most success. 2021’s “Lilizela” is where she first caught many’s attention, charming listeners with a soothing performance over a shimmery, bouncy beat. While the sleeper record served as an appetizer for many, her debut Amagama, serves as the rich main dish. Over an hour and eight minutes, her arresting vocals dovetail softly with quality production, as she sings about personal experiences, spirituality, love and everything in between — Boluwatife Adeyemi


44. Matter of Time – Dami Oniru


Matter of Time - Dami Oniru


Dami Oniru is a soft girl and it’s not just because the single off her Matter of Time EP is called “Soft Life.” It’s more than that. Her commitment to softness is evident in the way she glides across beats, her smooth but firm voice taking control of our ears, hearts, and minds. On her latest project, the singer, born Bri’ana Oniru Edwards, explores a full range of topics, from love to money. Her beautiful voice is accompanied by stunning songwriting with deep, meaningful lyrics that belie her age and highlight her clarity of thought. Produced by Remy Baggies and Oniru herself, Matter of Time is a wonderful project from an artist we can’t wait to see explode. —  Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


43. Honeydoom – Moliy


Moliy - Honeydoom


For those who have never listened to Moliy before, her high pitched vocals might take you by surprise. Coupled with a distinct storytelling prowess, the Ghanaian-American has been an uprising figure in the Alte scene ever since her 2020 feature on Amaarae’s global hit “Sad Girlz Luv Money”. She went on to drop her debut project “Wondergirl” in the same year and it’s been an uphill ride since then. Earlier in 2022, Moliy dropped a three-track E.P. and featured on BOJ”s album Gbagada Express. This was the perfect buildup to her new project Honeydoom, where she discusses her personal experiences with love, from the honeymoon phase to the sour patches. The lead single “Love Doc” is Moliy capturing the heartbreak she has gone through. Collaborating with Juls, P Priime, Moonchild Sanelly and even her younger sister, Melissa, Moliy makes sure that she has fun on this project despite some of its melancholic lyrics. Packing hard dance tracks in “Hard” and “Body on Fire”, Honeydoom showcases her versatility and an ability to find the right pockets with her smooth, buttery flows. — Diekola Ismail


42. Focus – Arrow Bwoy


Arrow Bwoy - Focus


Arrow Bwoy’s style indicates that there is more to him than what’s on the surface. The Kenyan singer released Focus, which features a healthy repertoire of guest appearances. Across the project’s 45 minutes, Arrow Bwoy morphs his melodies in accordance with the subtle bounce of drums and guitar riffs. The synergy he shares with his guest makes Focus a cohesive project. — Clarence MacEbong


41. Bad Since ’97 – BNXN fka Buju


BNXN-Buju Bad-Since-97-EP


BNXN continues to push forward a debut album, and this time, he’s given us an EP, the second in two years, to satisfy appetites until its eventual arrival. Bad Since’ 97 was always going to bank on the raw sharpness of his vocal set, the cream of his arsenal, but he has worked its delivery into unfamiliar and varied corners, accelerating his lines to rap on verses (“Bad Since ’97”, “In My Mind”) before grinding a chorus to near-halt for worship of the Almighty (“Modupe”). He assembled guests of legendary magnitude for this project, and being able to cram Olamide, Wande Coal and Wizkid into a 7-track EP will make any Nigerian A-lister green with envy. Bad Since ’97 is his victory lap, and only the very best will suffice to celebrate his accomplishments in only a 4 year spell. It is not uncommon to see an artist’s music quality begin to taper off as success arrives, but BNXN proves he has enough in his tank to power his new name to an even better portfolio than the first — so much that he swears on his mother to expect bigger from him. — Patrick Ezema


40. Royal Flush – Lady Zamar


Royal Flush - Lady Zamar


Yamikani Janet Banda aka Lady Zamar knows how to make you move. The Themba-born singer and songwriter has had a keen grasp on crafting addictive riddims since she made waves several years ago with Cotton Candy, her debut collaborative album with producer and dj Junior Taurus. She floats with her soft, euphonious vocals over delightful, silky percussive rhythms in a way that’s almost next to none. It’s featherlight, soothing and sometimes dreamy. On Royal Flush, her first project since 2021’s Red, she does more of the same, delicately singing about heartbreak, driving G-wagons, skiing, love and much more. The fun thing here is you don’t have to really even pay attention; Royal Flush almost immediately puts you in a trance from the second you hit play, thanks mostly to Lady Zamar’s voice, which makes listening to her sound like you’re riding in the clouds.  — Boluwatife Adeyemi


39. Guramayle – KUTU


Guramayle - KUTU


Although we are immediately thrust into the chaos that is Guramayle, there is a strong sense that there is a method behind the madness. The Ethiopian band are pan-African in their approach as their guitar riffs and drum patterns hold within it an undeniable Blackness. It is alternative rock in the most African way possible. The 41-minute project is a pointer to the fact that African music has touched levels that haven’t even been documented yet, challenging the conventions of what African music should sound like. — Clarence MacEbong


38. S.O.O.N 2 (A Better Year) – Touchline


S.O.O.N 2 (A Better Year) - Touchline


Touchline, born Thabo Mahlwele, knows his way around a beat.The ex-footballer turned rapper and singer has got quite a number of ammunitions in his artistic arsenal, but perhaps his most potent weapon is his effortlessly sleek flow with which he uses to skillfully slide on beats of any kind. On his third album S.O.O.N 2, it’s this pristine flow in addition to his slightly gritty voice and witty bars that takes center stage. Whether it’s Hip-Hop-inspired, Amapiano or a conventional South African Pop cut, Touchline slides through like a hot knife through butter. Standout cuts like the ruminative, bar-heavy opener “A South African Christmas”, “Actions Over Captions”, “Alpha Echelon”, “Abafana Aba Hot” manages to showcase the rapper’s greatest strengths, establishing him as an upcoming act to keep a keen eye on. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


37. Madina To The Universe: The E.P.ilogue – M.anifest


M.anifest - Madina To The Universe: The E.P.ilogue 


Coming a year after the release of his fifth studio album, M.anifest uses his latest body of work to conclude the previous one. Named after where he grew up in Accra, Madina to the Universe exhibits the rapper’s rise to stardom from humble beginnings. This sequel contains M.anifest’s trap-like rhymes and the familiarity of his Twi-infused bars with a style of imagery that transports listeners. Created while on tour, the E.P.ilogue begins with the lyricist letting fans into a part of his life on “GPS”, where he talks about “reading contracts, making spreadsheets and tweaking his next tweets”. M.I. Abaga comes in on “Too Bad” to declare their respective positions as leaders in the rap game and M.anifest brings his lover boy persona into play on “Wussup” and “Plenty Feelings” with Anik Khan and Alee respectively. He reflects on how he wants to experience life to the fullest on “Travel Noir” and his ambitions on “Times Square” featuring Wavypae. This project is the perfect conclusion to its predecessor and it gives the Ghanaian rapper another  platform to showcase his genius. — Diekola Ismail


36. Sad Romance – Ckay



Sad Romance, Ckay’s debut album is an eclectic body of work that marries soulful melodies, Amapiano, elements of Jazz, RnB and Afrobeats. His signature elastic and futuristic beats abound with delicious twists that range from infectious toe-tappers like “soja” to the instant hit that was “emiliana”. Perhaps the idea behind the creation of Sad Romance was to make a concept album telling a fully fleshed out tale of heartbreak, futility and the duplicitous nature of identity when tied to someone else. On “you cheated, i cheated too” he tells a tale of infidelity and the death of trust between lovers and by the time the Davido and Focalistic assisted “WATAWI” comes around we get a clearer defined picture of a playboy acting out in the wake of lost love. — Abayomi Olusegun


35. Hause Arrest – The Hause


Hause Arrest


Hause Arrest is an intricate, eclectic, dance-inspired 5-tracker that instantly establishes The Hause as one of the most impressive acts to keep your eye on. The Nigerian-Ghanaian collective made up of MisterKay, Mark Adachi, Yonwoody and Master Maison mostly layer Amapiano-inspired rhythms with soft, Afropop-inspired melodies, also beautifully embellishing each record with sparkling keys, warm synths or lovely guitar strings. It’s mostly breezy and  tender, especially on tracks like “Let The Log Drums Burn” and the standout “Celina”. Things however pick up on the hypnotic closer “Falling For You” where the drums are much punchier, forcing a head bop or even a full blown dance routine. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


34. Billion Dollar Baby – Seyi Vibez


Seyi Vibez


In a year where Asake took the streets and the charts by storm, Seyi Vibez still found a way to stand out. With Billion Dollar Baby, Seyi Vibez snuck his way into our midst with a distinct, contagious melody. The growing influence of Street-Hop in the mainstream Nigerian music scene has extended the range of music we have at our fingertips. — Clarence MacEbong


33. Playboy – Firebox DML


Fireboy DML - Playboy 


Ever since Fireboy burst into the scene with “Jealous” in 2019, he has been a familiar name on the tongues of fans and admirers alike. His heart-tugging lyrics and serenading melodies have a degree of honesty to them that have made the “Peru” crooner the heartthrob of ladies in Nigeria and across the world. On his third studio album, Fireboy discusses the wealth and position his newfound fame has brought him, also touching on his experiences with the various women in his life. The album is packed majorly with songs built around local rhythms  as seen in songs like “All of Us (Ashawo)” and “Afro Highlife”. He however branches out on cuts “Adore You” and “Havin’ Fun” employing a smooth Reggae flow on the latter. The features on this project pack a heavy punch as he calls up Chris Brown, Ed Sheeran, Shenseea and Rema. The Playboy tells his stories on this album and gives listeners an amazing experience at the same time. — Diekola Ismail


32. Red Dragon – Uncle Waffles


Red Dragon - Uncle Waffles


On twitter, Uncle Waffles’ pinned tweet is a video of a performance from October 2021. The 27-second clip, which has been viewed over 5 million times, was the world’s first introduction to the DJ. Riding the wave of that attention took her through sold-out shows in Europe and America before her eventual arrival at this EP with which she completes her journey from set to studio, a switch common with South African creatives. Her debut, in only 4 tracks, sees her explore the breadth of her own personality. It might be named Red Dragon, a self-given nickname that encapsulates the tantalising energy she brings to each performance, but the substance of the EP derives equally from Uncle Waffles and her more delicate alter ego. In a trip down the tracks you climb down from the lively effervescence of “Tanzania” and “uMalume Wako”, bask in the measured groove of “Uwelona” and finally open yourself to naked emotion on “Love I Need”, getting closer as you do the woman behind the mask — a journey every bit as wonderful as hers in the last year. — Patrick Ezema


31. Denim – Odunsi (The Engine)


Odunsi Denim-EP


Odunsi (The Engine) is arguably the most progressive and inventive act in the country at the moment. His music, over the last few years, has been characterized by an unwavering desire to push the limits of conventionality. He’s a musical tinkerman of some sort, fusing several influences — some of which might look odd on paper — to mostly create reverberating, compelling records. Denim, his latest effort, is not dissimilar from what he’s been doing of late, in fact, it’s perhaps his sharpest left till date. He glides on the bouncy opener “N2P”, employing a part fuji, part afrobeats-influenced delivery over pulsating kickdrums. He does same on “DRAMA QUEEN”, skillfully skidding on a beat that sounds like an old ringtone while on “WTF! (Euphoria)”, his voice contorts in several ways over a chilling, sinister beat. It’s eclectic and expansive, but what ties most of it together is his dead eye confidence, one that shows a man that’s incredibly assured in his abilities. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


30. Lisa Odour-Noah – Lisa Odour-Noah


Lisa Odour-Noah - Lisa Odour-Noah


Lisa Odour-Noah sounds like a picnic on a warm summer afternoon. She names her debut album after herself, probably in a bid to double down for a strong introduction to the general public. Every song makes you feel like you know her beyond the music, baring herself on topics concerning love and self-discovery. The gentle shakes and strings only serve to accentuate her voice: every note that comes out of her lungs is more important than the last one. She stands out on “Malo” but is just as good across the project’s 27 minutes. At the end of Lisa, you could feel so acquainted with her that you only want to call her by her first name. — Clarence MacEbong


29. Asali – Maya Amolo


Asali - Maya Amolo


Maya Amolo’s 2020 debut Leave Me At The Pregame was a documentation of the singer’s exhaustion with the modern dating game, acting out scenarios that involved leaving unsatisfactory partners, as she preferred the comfort of solitude to any lopsided relationship. With Asali, she goes in the opposite direction, but her vehicle, the moody expression of what she terms alternative RnB, remains unchanged. Her feelings are at the fore, and she will dive in head first in search of love, a sentiment that Maya from two years ago would frown at. Asali translates as “Honey”, and though it was a name most likely chosen for the passion-tinged direction of the album, the pure sweetness of her voice confers an unintended double-entendre. Instruments are sparse, leaving her to carry the water in a way they never could, and her only accompaniments on most tracks are a mellow beat to guide her vocals and a warped piano to interplay with them. She doesn’t need much more. Maya brings her evolution in two years to a stellar conclusion, a heart-on-sleeve display of emotions that is as intimate as it is empowering. — Patrick Ezema


28. For Good Reasons – AYLØ




Five years on from his breakout project, AYLØ returns for what he claims to be his debut  album — a distinction that has blurred in the modern streaming era  — and delivers another chapter of melodious and soft vocals worked over enthralling production work. The album starts off with “Tekkers”, a part bubbly, part sensual cut that’ll perfectly soundtrack rooms filled with intoxicated bodies ready to catch a wine. “Dtrv2” is almost as irresistible, built on twangy instrumentals, while on the braggadocious “90 for the Rims”, he proves his versatility as a singer and rapper, slipping in and out of tight, rap-inspired flows alongside Tim Lyre. There are other features from talented Abuja rapper Zilla Oaks, Psycho YP, Tena Tempo and a host of others who assist AYLØ in putting together one of the best projects this year. — Abayomi Olusegun


27. Trenchkid – Balloranking 




There’s a pain and honesty that accompanies Balloranking’s music that can’t be faked. On the titular opener of Trenchkid, he paints a vivid imagery: “I’m a trench kid, I sabi dance galala and haffi dance makosa, I’m from the trenches / I’m a trench kid, me, I go but akara if i no see samosa, I’m from the trenches” that’s almost impossible not to believe. Even his enunciation slightly gives him away, sometimes stretching out his syllables in awkward ways. But that’s the beauty here — Balloranking never poses as something he’s not, he’s well aware of what he is: an incredibly talented, aspirational singer from the projects whose gifts has brought him thus far and surely farther more. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


26. Catch Me If You Can – Adekunle Gold




The evolution of Adekunle Gold continues with Catch Me If You Can, his fourth tape that plays like a soundtrack of personal emotion, storytelling and heartfelt but cloying lyricism told with a fullness fitting for a veteran songwriter. With his transition from the folk-inspired singer from many years ago to a full-fledged pop star, AG Baby continues to distinguish himself in an industry filled with pastiche and imitators. Soft and inaudible some times, hasty and fevered at others, over 41 minutes the singer sings of struggle, love, fatherhood and the worth of the man. The album features writing from his wife and frequent collaborator, Simi, American Singer Ty Dolla Sign, as well as the Juju icon King Sunny Ade amongst many others. With much to admire on this tape one may not be mistaken for thinking we have not yet seen the final transformation of Adekunle Gold just yet. — Abayomi Olusegun


25. Afro Fi, Vol 1 – Masterkraft




Over the last couple of years, lo-fi as a genre of music has exploded into the mainstream. A quick Youtube search shows a plethora of channels dedicated to streaming lo-fi, advertising it as music you can use to study, work, or just chill out. With Afro-Fi, Vol 1, Masterkraft, one of Nigeria’s premier beatsmiths, puts his classic touch on lo-fi, combining its deliberate imperfection with Afrobeats into a beautiful and unique sound. With sparse lyrics, Afro-Fi Vol 1 is everything you’d expect from a producer’s project – clear, crisp, and smoother than freshly opened butter. Another delicious serving from a genius and sometimes under appreciated chef. —  Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


24…This is Sgicha – DJ Keyez x Bafana Ba Sgicha


This is Sgicha - DJ Keyez x Bafana Ba Sgicha


DJ Keyez teams up with Bafana Ba Sgicha on a standout Amapiano project. The duo’s linkup birthed 2 hours of straight-up club bangers. The unique instrumentals dovetail with each other, and it sounds so good that one would think it was easy. The spectrum on which Amapiano operates is broader than we think, and although the leanings of This is Sgicha are similar to what we’re used to, its execution earns it a spot on our best 50 African Albums of 2022. — Clarence MacEbong


23. D.R.U.G.S – Njeri


D.R.U.G.S - Njeri


Njeri draws parallels between love and psychedelia on D.R.U.G.S, blurring the lines between the addictive nature of both phenomena. The Kenyan singer put together a project that stands out due to the ingenuity of beat selection and sound engineering. Her debut LP serves as a distinct introduction for the talented singer and this has earned her a spot on our Top 50 albums this year. — Clarence MacEbong


22. Wizkid – More Love Less Ego 


Wizkid - More Love Less Ego


Wizkid is in a league of his own, he’s been for a while now and More Love Less Ego, his fifth studio LP,  further reinforces that notion. Two years after the release of the Grammy-nominated Made in Lagos, Wizkid’s latest project has a smooth and sultry flow to majority of its 13 tracks. Collaborating with award winning producer P2J once more, the pop polymath’s  album is a mixture of sounds inspired from all across the world. Aimed at spreading the message of love, this album packs a great number of guest appearances ranging from UK-Nigerian rappers Naira Marley and Skepta to reggae artists, Shenseea and Skillibeng. On “2 Sugar”, Ayra Starr’s celestial vocals carry the hook with an elegance that has become accustomed to the popstar. Once again, Wizkid procures Tay Iwar’s dainty writing prowess on cuts like “Deep” and the mellifluous closer “Frames (Who’s Gonna Know?)”. Although Less Ego might be different from what a section of his fans are used to, local fans especially, his decision to double down and continue his sonic evolution is an indictment of where Wiz himself is at. Just sit tight and enjoy the ride.  — Diekola Ismail 


21. Heart Of The Heavenly Undeniable – Somadina


Heart Of The Heavenly Undeniable - Somadina


While Somadina describes HOTHU as “an EP that feels like an album”, I prefer to use a shorter adjective: beautiful. Unlike her peers, Somadina shies away from releasing a lot of music, an oddity in an industry influenced by streaming culture. This slow and dedicated approach to making music shows up and out on her latest project. Throughout the 11-track album, there’s a deliberateness to the sonic direction, an ingredient that gives it instant quality and character. The themes of the project vary from love to pain, passion to the nonchalance of youth. From The Cavemen to Zamir, the featured artists also differ in style, a testament to Somadina’s versatility and wide range of sound. Overall, HOTHU is a solid reminder for those who forget about this maverick because of her tendency to sometimes stay in the background. —  Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


20. Boy Alone – Omah Lay


Omah Lay Boy Alone


Omah Lay’s album builds on emotions that propelled him and his debut EP to pandemic prominence. He searches further into the depths of his depressed mind, attempting to unravel the sources of his worries and seek solutions to them, and instead emerges with some of the most beautiful music that graced 2022. In place of actual therapy, he will seek comfort at the bottom of the bottle or on top of a woman, which suffice to keep some cheer about him until such a time when they are required once more. His writing is as gripping as ever, letting him divulge his pain in the most understated ways, and he applies sexual and romantic material like a salve, ensuring the album does not completely languish in the murks of despair. His vehicle is Afropop at its softer cadences, and he operates best in the sweet spot where he can work up a groove without needing beat thumping danceability, an essential choice to avoid a distraction from the poignant messages he relays. The lockdowns may be conventionally over, but Omah Lay’s ability to make music best consumed and relished in solitude endures. — Patrick Ezema


19. Subaru Boys : Final Heaven – Cruel Santino


Subaru Boys : Final Heaven - Cruel Santino


Notably recognized as one of the key figures in the country’s alternative scene, Cruel Santino, fka Santi, challenges himself on his sophomore album, creating an incredibly vibrant, colorful and somewhat robust world with Subaru Boys. The multihyphenate’s talent is radically on display throughout, skillfully blending Hip-Hop, Afrobeats and R&B- inspired flows and melodies over some of the most innovative and absorbing production you’ll hear around.  As an artiste that can produce performances like “FINAL CHAMPION”, “TAPENGA” and is willing to embrace and excel with variety on “DEADMAN BONE” Cruel Santino does not seem like he is through with growth as an performer. He has continually pushed the envelope of conformity through his artistry, the extent of which remains to be seen. — Abayomi Olusegun


18. The Villain I Never Was – Black Sherif


Black Sherif - The Villian I Never Was


Black Sherif. What’s there to say, really? Ghana’s boy wonder and his achievements speak for itself. After breaking out with the cross-country, cross-continental smash hit “Second Sermon”, all eyes and ears were on Black Sherif, real name Mohammed Ismail Sherif Kwaku Frimpong, with everyone wondering if he would break the one-hit-wonder ceiling. Boy, did he smash it. The release of “Kwaku the Traveler”, the album’s second single proved his talent and versatility, while heavily influencing 2022 pop culture – I mean, he had everybody’s uncle screaming “WHO NEVER FUCK UP? HANDS IN THE AIR!”. On The Villain I Never Was, Blacko’s amazing ability to be vulnerable over beats takes center stage as he manoeuvres through themes of struggle, uncertainty, mistakes and his current success. Even better is the realization that he’s only 20, meaning we have many more years to enjoy his career. And if his stunning debut is anything to go by, we are in for a treat. —  Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


17. Remember – Ria Boss


Remember - Ria Boss


Unburdened by the weight of the expectations of a record label or a massive fanbase, there is an unhurried, powerful beauty to Ria Boss’ work that is somewhat reminiscent of greats like Onyeka Onwenu and Aretha Franklin. Remember is suffused with deeply carnal lyrics and lush enunciation of her thoughts about defeat, sexiness and yearning for her lover. “I will make you feel good, love.” That is the refrain that encapsulates much of what she writes about but it begs questioning whether this is more a self-insert by the poet rather than a love-letter to their paramour, as in Dante’s Divine Comedy. “Tides” brings the first half of the album to an end with a bombastic finish courtesy of fantastic drumming and production that are also on show in “Here” and “Damn”. Cat Mama, as she also styles herself, lends her bodacious voice to an impressive display by her troupe of accompanists skilled in trumpets, drums, saxophones and in imitating the eminence of a full jazz complement. By the time the album closes out with “Kisses Under the Moon,” we might have an answer to our question although that is one I would rather leave unanswered. — Abayomi Olusegun


16. The Guy – M.I.


M.I Abaga - The Guy


The Guy sounds like more of the same from M.I., which is just fine when you’re one of Nigeria’s foremost rappers and “the same” happens to be one of the richest discographies of any Nigerian artist. Its context therefore sets it apart from his previous work, and as he approaches an impending marriage, he will have to share his attention between love of his partner and aggrandization of himself. He achieves the former as he cedes choruses to Afropop stars and stamps his bars on verses, trying to strike a balance that will satisfy fans of both genres. Acts like Duncan Mighty, Wande Coal and The Cavemen have been recruited to supply a framework around which he speaks to and about his partner and showcases some of the most candid and vulnerable writing of his discography. Alone, he reverts to braggadocio, and tracks like “The Guy” and “The Hate” are made with intentions to remind doubters who’s still boss, so in a year that has asked questions of the viability of Nigerian rap, M.I.’s effort fights to reaffirm his legacy as well as the industry’s and delivers on both. — Patrick Ezema


15. NATIVEWORLD – Native Sound System



The idea of NATIVEWORLD was one of escapism; a call to leave our mundane ideas behind and embrace our wildest imaginations. Boasting a cast of some of Nigeria’s most promising new-gen acts, NATIVEWORLD blends influences from far and wide to create a comprehensive project that encompasses what it feels like to experience Lagos, and by extension, Nigeria. From Teezee to ShowDemCamp’s Tec, NATIVE Sound System’s selection of artists represents the latest point in the evolutionary line of Nigerian music, highlighting that we are more than just Amapiano remakes, layered choruses and industry templates for hit songs. There’s nothing wrong with all those things, but NATIVEWORLD sufficiently portrays that there is a healthy flip side to mainstream Nigerian music. — Clarence MacEbong


14. Blaqbonez – Young Preacher


Blaqbonez - Young Preacher


Whether you believe rap is dead or not, you have to agree that Blaqbonez has undoubtedly been one of the rappers holding it down in the country for a while now. Thanks to his immaculate use of social media, he has gathered a loyal fanbase who are firm believers in the gospel he spreads. Supporting the message contained in 2021’s Sex Over Love, Young Preacher serves as the perfect podium for the self-proclaimed evangelist to pass his message across once more. The rapper asks for forgiveness for “all the hearts I broke in Lekki” on the lead single of the album, “Back in Uni” and he gives fans a peek into his personal life when he reflects on his personal growth. Armed with features from various artists who held their own, Blaqbonez’s fifth solo project in as many years covers a wide range of themes including the struggles that accompany fame, his many escapades, and broken hearts. The gifted lyricist takes his listeners on a fun ride with this project and defends his spot as (arguably) the best rapper in Africa, a claim he made back in 2019.


13. Midnight in Sunnyside – Mellow & Sleazy


Mellow & Sleazy - Midnight in Sunnyside


The Amapiano genre featured heavily on this list, and why wouldn’t it? South African artists continue to show that their most popular genre isn’t one-dimensional in any sense. Mellow and Sleazy put together Midnight in Sunnyside to mass appeal, as songs like “Chipi Ke Chipi” and “Bayethe” had clubs across the continent in a chokehold. — Clarence MacEbong


12. The Other Side – Nikita Kering


Nikita Kering - The Other Side


Last year, Nikita Kering announced herself to the world with A Side of Me. This year, her sophomore explores The Other Side. In many ways, this is a sequel and continues to touch on the themes of love, relationships and personal growth that her debut EP highlighted. However, the difference between both projects is the maturity of perspective she showcases on the latter. Like she told Apple Music, “This EP is emotions put together to tell the story of a lady who has finally found herself and figured out her purpose. It’s an expression of where I am at the moment that blends beautifully into something harmonious.” While her outlook might have changed, Kering’s voice and songwriting remain familiar and safe, drawing us into her beautiful but flawed world. —  Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


11. Outlaw – Victony


Victony - Outlaw


Victony has had a strong year. It almost feels destined following a difficult period in his personal life. With the release of Outlaw, he cemented himself as one of Africa’s most unique artists. His successes helped him land a spot on Spotify’s RADAR Africa and Burna Boy’s Love, Damini. There’s something about Victony’s sound that leaves you wanting more – it could be his honey-like voice or his choice of beats. He slithers across beats with a cadence that wins you over, that is, before you fall in love with his playful, nonsensical lyrics. While “Jolene” caught our ears first, “Soweto” continues to gain traction, as with the contagious “Apollo”. — Clarence MacEbong


10. As Above, So Below – Sampa The Great


Sampa The Great - As Below, So Below


On her sophomore album, Zambian wordsmith Sampa The Great sonically revisits her roots, fusing Zamrock — a local musical genre that merges traditional African music with genres like psychedelic rock, garage rock, blues and funk — with contemporary hip-hop and slices other genres. The music here sometimes tries to challenge the borders of conventional genres, contorting in ways that are far from regular. Lyrically, she remains spirited and sharp as ever, rapping both in English and Bemba, a native Zambian language, about self-love and cultural identity. Since she debuted a couple of years ago, the 29-year-old has clearly distinguished herself as one of the most skilled and talented rappers from these parts, As Above, So Below only goes to reinforce the notion. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


9. Love is Pain – Venom x Shishiliza


Venom x Shishiliza - Love is pain


After listening to this project, one could easily draw parallels between the title and the music itself. Venom and Shishiliza break the general one-dimensional view of Amapiano sounds by opting for something more psychedelic and otherworldly. There’s no other word to describe it other than “sweet”, evoking feelings of euphoria from an otherwise mellow set of beats that carry the vocals like a gentle sea wave. On Love is Pain the title speaks for itself, as we are left to marvel at their representation of the intersection between love and longing. — Clarence MacEbong


8. Asake – Mr. Money With The Vibe 


Asake - Mr Money With The Vibe


After the release of “Omo Ope” early in the year, everyone could tell that Asake was something special but very few could have known what the year had in store for him. It all seemed planned out though as Mr. Money kept churning out chart-topping hits accompanied by superb visuals. It did not take long for Asake’s lyrics to be on the lips of the world making his album one of the most anticipated for the year. His excellent blend of Fuji, Amapiano and Pop coated with prayerful lyrics enamored him to just about everyone. The album, which arrived a couple months ago, contains a variety of fast-tempo songs like “Joha” and “Peace Be Unto You” which get your body moving no matter where you are. On songs like “Nzaza” and “Ototo”, he displays his versatility, seamlessly coasting over much slower production than he’s usually known for. After a few years on the fringes of the mainstream, the YBNL signee has had a year that’ll definitely go down in history, and the thought of Mr. Money only being the beginning is mighty scary. 


7. Raves & Roses – Rema


Rema - Raves & Roses


Rema comes out swinging on his long-awaited debut Raves & Roses. The Mavin Records signee isn’t messing about here; stuffing this highly anticipated 16-tracker with a kaleidoscope of influences and personal tales. The album opens with the pristine “Divine”, a compelling autobiographical cut that paints a vivid image of the man behind the name, his story and the grind that makes him who he currently is. Also, he is a professor of love and lust in equal measure here, describing his ideal lover on “Hold Me”, a steamy getaway on “Soundgasm” and by the time you get to “Oroma Baby” Rema’s music offers little else lyrically but just enough bounce to hold your attention until the end. Raves and Roses has unmistakable quality; the work of a highly exciting act that’s confident, skilled, self-assured and sure to have more great things to come. — Abayomi Olusegun


6. But could the moments in between – Manana


Manana - But could the moments in between


Since he started making a name for himself in late 2020, Manana’s music has been especially characterized by heartfelt candor and a striking, almost unshakable, potency. His moving, syrupy vocals carries with it a marked softness which he employs to express his often simple,  but poignant words. On the “Pulchritudinous”, a tender, guitar-laden cut from his sophomore tape, there’s a way he sings “Sometimes I do hide disguise my infatuation / I adore you, there there’s no reservation” that’s incredibly sweet and vulnerable. This vulnerability is what courses through most of But could the moments in between. From start to finish, he tells tales of love and romance from various perspectives over morose keys and balmy drums and strums. It’s both beautiful and aching at the same time. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


5. V – ASA 




Three years since her last project Lucid, the seasoned veteran drops what many regard to be her most commercial album yet. Made entirely in her home in Lagos during the 2020 lockdown, V is another portrayal of the genius that is Asa but in a totally different light. The amazing vocalist sings about love, friendship, relationships in adulthood in a relatable manner. The first of her albums to have any features on them, Asa takes a new route which seems to work out for her. On “IDG”, she enlists the aid of Grammy winner, Wizkid who brings his smooth vocals onto a soft and chill tune. She also features The Cavemen and Amaarae on “Good Times” and “All I Ever Wanted” respectively. Although there is a different feel to this album, Asa maintains her exquisite pen game with lyrics that grab the attention of the listeners. She sings to her partner about the unbreakable love they share on “Mayana” and asks him to “Show Me Off”. Gifted with a heavenly voice, Asa releases a piece of work that she says comes from a place of happiness and that can be felt all over the album.


4. Love, Damini – Burna Boy


Love, Damini - Burna Boy


Two years after Twice As Tall, the African Giant blessed us with another project. Propelled by global monster hit “Last Last”, the album celebrates Burna at 30, and is another step in his evolution into one of music’s greatest talents. On the 19-track project, he touches on different themes like love, heartbreak, legacy, and the environmental issues in his hometown of Port Harcourt. As always, the features on the album are intentional and well thought out, emphasizing his ability to work with different artists and still produce excellent music. Although some will argue that Love, Damini does not quite hit the heights of its predecessors African Giant and Twice as Tall; this is not an indictment on the project’s quality but an understanding of the astronomical standards Burna has set for himself. —  Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu


3. KOA Vol II Part 1 – Kabza De Small


KOA Vol II Part 1 - Kabza De Small


Declaring yourself the king of any genre, especially one as decentralised and innovative as Amapiano, would be a heavy-handed, probably fallacious statement if it came from any other than Kabza De Small. With a career whose trajectory runs parallel to the genre, it is not surprising to see him mark a territory around the music he helped build, since its global explosion in the last few years has opened it up to adoptions and eventually appropriations from producers all over Africa.  With KOA 2.1, Kabza reasserts his status in Amapiano, not just as founder but a maestro, and it is a position he has the music to back up. He places soulful vocals side by side with measured production, helping you to appreciate a different form of Amapiano from the beat-heavy bustle most producers favour, a purer form. Keystrokes and vocal notes mingle and interplay, and as each track burns in excess of 6 minutes, these two elements will unhurriedly build up, climax spectacularly and taper off every time. Each track is a roller-coaster, and every turn puts his kingship less in doubt. — Patrick Ezema


2. Ali – Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Toure


Ali - Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Toure


With Ali, Vieux Farka Toure — son of legendary Malian singer and multi-instrumentalist Ali Farka Toure — fitly pays homage to his father, reimagining eight of his classic records alongside Houston fusionists Khruangbin. The musical partnership — which was initially suggested by Vieux’s manager and sealed over fish and chips in a London pub —  is a match made in heaven. Vieux is the director here, carefully guiding the trio of bassist Laura Lee, guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald Johnson Jr. to freely express but at the same time give a fresh take on Ali’s classics. In an interview earlier in the year, Johnson Jr. revealed that Vieux gave them no context during the recording sessions, he just wanted them to play and this is what they did. The result is a lush and intricate 8-tracker that straddles Ali’s African desert blues with a host of other global influences. You don’t even need to understand a word of what’s being said, you just need to bask in the rich, wonderful music that’s been made here. — Boluwatife Adeyemi


1. Some Nights I Dream Of Doors – Obongjayar 


Some Nights I Dream Of Doors - Obongjayar


Is/Was the wait worth it?. That’s a question many ask in various situations or scenarios. Even more so in relation to art; cinephiles ask if the new season of a favourite show which took 3 years to create was worth it. Audiophiles too; was the debut album they waited 5 years for worth it. Just think about Jay Electronica’s fans who had to wait for about a decade for the American rapper and record producer’s debut album. But in the case of Steven Umoh, — the talented, ripped, dreadhead singer — who frequently goes as Obongjar, his debut LP, which has been coming for a couple of years now, was definitely worth the wait. Since 2016’s Home, Obongjayar has slowly sung his way into mainstream consciousness, creating some of the most eclectic and richly expansive music you’ll hear around along the way. He’s reinterpreted and tested the limits of genres like Jazz, Fela’s Afrobeat, Soul, R&B, Afrobeats, it’s become extremely difficult to put a finger on his music. It’s this eclecticism that he uses in crafting his long-awaited debut LP Sometimes I Dream Of Doors, a vulnerable, thoughtful and captivating piece of work. Doors encapsulates most — if not all — that Obongjayar is as a musician: a self-aware, baritone fusionist who isn’t scared — whether that’s in challenging traditional music structures or genres or baring his soul out in gut-wrenching fashion. — Boluwatife Adeyemi



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