2022 has been a stellar year for Afrobeats so far. Even though we’re nowhere close to the end of the year yet, the fans have enjoyed multiple offerings from some of its hottest artists, ranging from Burna Boy, Rema Omah Lay, to King Promise, Fireboy DML and Gyakie.
To that effect, I’ve decided to walk down memory lane even though it hasn’t been a long time, to highlight some of the best projects (albums and EPs) from the Afrobeats scene in 2022. Without further ado, check out the best Afrobeats albums out this year, in no particular order.
Rema – Rave & Roses
At the beginning of the year when the streets were cold, Rema was there for us, he gave us something to feast on. Album-wise, he kickstarted the year with his debut studio album ‘Rave & Roses‘ which was released back in March.
Having dished out continent-spawning hits like Dumebi, Soundgasm, Woman, Beamer, and more, Rema opened a new chapter in his career adding a studio album to his catalogue and that album is the critically-acclaimed ‘Rave & Roses.’ Met with rave reviews from fans and critics, the album has been regarded as one of the best Nigerian albums of 2022 by credible publications.
Rave & Roses consists of a total of 16 tracks with guest appearances by Chris Brown, 6lack, Yseult, and AJ Tracey. For the production, Rema calls on his long-time collaborators, London, Andre Vibez, alongside Kill September, Higo, Altims, Kel P, KDagr8t, 1 Mind, Kemi Siala, Dro, Shanti, Dez Wright and high-profile beatsmith, Sarz.
Burna Boy – Love, Damini
The conversation about the rise of Afrobeats cannot hold water without mentioning Burna Boy as one of its frontiers. With sold concerts and certifications in Europe and America, Burna Boy has been very instrumental in exporting West African beyond the shores of Africa.
Since he made his reinstatement as the African Giant with the hit single ‘Ye‘ back in 2018, Burna Boy’s growth has been nothing short of an astronomical success. He returned to the game after some setbacks prior to 2018, ready to showcase his skills while having a good time, as he did on his omnivorous studio albums ‘Outside‘, ‘African Giant‘, and the Grammy-winning ‘Twice as Tall‘, emerging as one of the poster boys of Afrobeats, breaking new grounds for African music in a global scale. The singer continues to move on the same trajectory as he releases his highly anticipated album tagged ‘Love, Damini‘.
‘Love, Damini‘ consists of 19 tracks, including the previously released chart-topping record ‘Last Last‘. It includes guest appearances by Ed Sheeran, J Balvin, Popcaan, Khalid, J Hus, Blxst, Kehlani, Ladysmith Black Mabazo, and Victony. The album comes in as Burna Boy’s sixth, a follow-up to the Grammy-winning 2022 LP, Twice As Tall.
Omah Lay – Boy Alone
For the entirety of 2022, Omah Lay’s album has dominated music discussions in Africa, alongside projects like Burna Boy’s ‘Love, Damini‘, Rema’s ‘Rave & Roses‘ and Fireboy DML’s upcoming ‘Playboy’ LP. Having made it clear that he intends to release his debut album this year even though we’ve experienced some changes in release dates, ‘Boy Alone‘ was sure to be one of the albums we’d be listening to for the rest of 2022.
Since Omah Lay arrived on the block in 2019, his growth in the music industry has been nothing short of an astronomical success. He’s been able to churn out successful projects like ‘Get Layd‘ EP, the follow-up ‘What Have We Done‘ and multiple stand-alone singles, hence, he has cemented his place as one of the forces to reckon with.
Omah Lay’s debut album Boy Alone is absolutely euphonic. His run-up to the album was further stocked by the release of ‘Understand‘. “I thought we in this together, give you my necklace pendant, show you my best friend, you friend am,” the catchy hook has been on the lips of many music lovers since its release back in July last year, and obviously stands as Omah Lay’s most potent record since his sophomore extended play ‘What Have We Done‘.
‘Boy Alone‘ counts at a wholesome 14 tracks, with Justin Bieber and Tay Iwar as the only guest appearances. For the production, Omah Lay calls on P2J, Orlandoh, Niphkeys, P. Prime, BGRZ, Semzi Beatz, HARV, Avedon, Tunesfactory, Sammy Soso, and his frequent collaborator, Tempoe who led the production count with a total of four tracks.
King Promise – 5 Star
King Promise’s 5 Star has been highly anticipated especially after his 2019 debut ‘As Promised,’ an album which saw him share tracks with global stars, Wizkid and Sarkodie was labelled as one of Ghana’s most streamed albums of all time. With the release of 5 Star, Promise is presented as a well-honed talent exuding pure excellence and the highest standard possible across 15 tracks.
His best project yet, King Promise lives up to his reputation as Ghana’s cultural connector throughout the diaspora globally with tracks from Headie One and WSTRN (UK), Frenna (Amsterdam), Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa (USA), Omah Lay and Patoranking (Nigeria) and Bisa Kdei (Ghana).
Since the release of the first single “Slow Down” last year and subsequent tracks “Bad ‘N’ Rude” feat. WSTRN, “Chop Life” feat. Patoranking, “Ring My Line” feat. Headie One and the most recent “Ginger,” King Promise’s mellow yet danceable blend of Afrobeats, Highlife and R&B have caught the attention of key tastemakers in music.
King Promise is fast establishing himself as one of the most exciting African artists breaking out of the continent this year. With his irresistible signature crooner lyrics and palpably warm and danceable energy, King Promise is somewhat of a hidden gem outside of West Africa. He has performed at Oh My Festival and Afronation this year and still has plans to go on tour soon.
Fireboy DML – Playboy
Three months into 2022, Fireboy DML ignited the anticipation of his third studio album by delivering his first official single of the year dubbed ‘Playboy,‘ the lead single off the album of the same name. Already he has scored his biggest hit yet with the Ed Sheeran-assisted ‘Peru Remix‘ which earned certifications in different countries and his first Billboard Hot 100 entry in his career. He went ahead to release ‘Bandana‘ featuring one of the hottest artists in Nigeria at the moment, his label mate, Asake and built a bigger momentum towards his third album release.
Fireboy DML released his third studio album ‘Playboy‘ via YBNL/EMPIRE and it is his most collaborative project to date. The LP counts at a wholesome 14 tracks with guest appearances by Ed Sheeran, Chris Brown, Rema, Euro, Asake, and Shenseea. For the production, Fireboy calls on new and previous collaborators, Shizzi, P. Prime, Eskeez, Telz, Bizzouch, Blaise Beatz, Phantom, Zaki Amujei, Kel P, Type A, and Kolten.
Speaking on the album, Fireboy made these remarks, “love and appreciation to every one of these genius minds who worked with me on this project, and to my teams at YBNL and Empire.” The album is an attestation that Fireboy DML is ready for the next level. Given his recent success via Peru and the recently released Bandana, it is obvious that he has hacked the winning formula and is forging ahead in his new winning vest with enormous confidence.
Gyakie – My Diary (EP)
The release of Gyakie’s second studio EP should not come as a surprise to anyone. Since her debut in 2019, she has remained on a very impressive and inspiring course. From dropping successive music singles, attempting record-breaking feats, topping music charts to winning multiple awards, performing at sold-out shows, headlining her own concert, making associations with powerful figures in music and becoming recognized as a symbol of empowerment to the girl child and females all over Africa, Gyakie has neither looked back nor slowed down.
‘My Diary’ adjoins the beautiful narrative that began on her SEED debut, this time chronicling the starlet’s encounters on her pathway to finding her galaxy. Armed with her delicious velvety vocals, Gyakie breaks down the EP in a track-by-track showcase of her musical range starting with mellow jazz symphonies on the opener, audience, down to the ragga-esque Waka Waka that brings the listening experience to an exciting close. Between these two vibes, there are R&B instalments on Far Away, the deeply emotive For My Baby as well as Something, inspired by the popular Banku sound. And then she taps on global Afrobeats sensation, Davido, who also is the only featured act on the EP for a vocal assist on Flames.
If anything really depicts how Gyakie’s musical craft has developed in recent times, look no further than ‘My Diary’ EP. Her efforts were very intentional to satisfy expectations in melodious composition, vocal delivery, lyrical dexterity, and imaginative story-telling prowess. While fans can now begin to relish her newly released, sweet-sounding and versatile body of work, Gyakie will not be resting her oars as her next stop on performing rounds this summer will be the United States of America, after having taken the cities of Berlin and London with her magic.