The albums that defined 2022 in their idiosyncratic ways.
1. Asake – Mr. Money With The Vibe
In the history of modern Afropop, no other artist has had a greater ascendance than Asake. Within twelve months, the Fuji-inspired sensation has dominated continental charts with a flurry of amapiano-backed singles. The YBNL-signed artist sealed his continental dominance and cross-cultural appeal with his debut album, Mr. Money With The Vibe, which debuted at No 66 on the Billboard 200.
One of the most lauded dark horses in recent times, Asake is taking the core streets of Lagos with him as he embarks on a world-dominating voyage that has seen him sell out three dates at the prestigious O2 Academy in Brixton, London, and become one of the fastest-rising artists ever in Afrobeats history.
2. Burna Boy – Love, Damini
For his third album within four years, Burna Boy opted for a compilation of some of his most culturally inclusive records instead of a cohesive body of work such as African Giant. Still, Burna Boy did not fail.
As a playlist, Love Damini is perhaps one of the most diverse and inclusive compilations, offering renditions that have become cultural hallmarks in different countries. Songs such as the Jhus-assisted Cloak and Dagger, J-Balvin’s-induced Rollercoaster, the Ed-Sheeran-enamoured For My Hand, Common Person, Whiskey, and much more.
The album also featured this year’s global anthem, Last Last, which peaked at #1 on US Mediabase Radio and became a chart-topper across the world cementing Burna Boy as a worldwide star.
3. Omah Lay – Boy Alone
Omah Lay’s long-awaited debut album, Boy Alone, was one of this year’s most thematic and cohesive albums.
The album is guest-listed only by Justin Bieber and the prolific Tay Iwar. Throughout the fourteen-song encore, Omah Lay sticks to the encompassing theme of listlessness, hedonism, and uneasiness offering a sonic meld of English, pidgin, and relatable stories that make listeners dance to his evocative pain.
4. Rema – Rave & Roses
Since his rise to the throes of pop royalty in 2018, Rema has continuously demonstrated why he is far off from his peers and why he is Afro-pop’s golden child.
Immediately after he announced his debut album, Rave and Roses, teeming fans awaited the dynamism that Rema has embodied throughout the entirety of his career, and the Benin-born star did not disappoint.
In a year encircled by his first tour of North America, Rema scored an international chart-topper with the lead single, Calm Down. The song secured a Selena Gomez – remix that propelled it further and cemented it as one of this year’s global tunes.
Rave and Roses also became one of the highest-streamed debut albums of all time in African history.
5. Wizkid – More Love Less Ego
After the success of the critically-acclaimed RIAA gold-certified Made in Lagos, there was a lot of expectation when Wizkid announced his fifth studio album, More Love Less Ego.
With guest features from Ayra Starr, Shenseea, Skilibeng, Naira Marley, Skepta & Don Toliver, Wizkid has managed to create an ingenious soundbed that adds more flavor – extreme hedonism and self-awareness to the Made in Lagos palette.
On, More Love Less Ego, Wizkid’s message is simple; escapism from life’s worries. However, in an expanding world of self-awareness and taking responsibility, escapism isn’t always enough.
The message is consistent, the engineering is pristine and the sound is rich in melody, perhaps Wizkid’s most adept use of his voice yet, but in the grand scheme of albums of the year, MLLE falls short.
6. Asa – V
Asa’s V is the most varied version of Asa the public has ever seen. For her most collaborative album yet, Asa recruited artists such as Wizkid, The Cavemen, and Amaarae into her safe haven.
Since Lucid, her 2019 album, some sections of Asa fans called for some diversity in her sonic palette. Although not a direct response to such calls, V sees Asa glide through unfamiliar territories with ease and syncing effortlessly with collaborators to curate a wholesome love story.
However, shortly after the release, Asa was embroiled in legal battles with producers, P.Priime, & Tempoe, and eventually Joeboy, this led to some songs on the album being taken off streaming platforms.
V is a refreshing take on Asa’s artistry but as a whole, it lacks a refinement that usually sets Asa apart.
7. Obongjayar – Some Nights I Dream Of Doors
Obongjayar introduced himself emphatically to the Nigerian audience in 2021 with his Sarz-collaborative EP, Sweetness, an expository into Obongjayar’s versatility.
Gone Girl off the EP sprung life into dance floors and gatherings across Lagos’ frenzied party scene. As much as he was a burgeoning talent in Nigeria, Obongjayar was as well a fast-rising talent within the UK scene, lending an iconic hook to Little Simz’s Point and Kill and adding balance to Octavian’s Poison.
On Some Nights I Dream Of Doors, Obongjayar flexes, his versatility with sound and subject matter, tackling corrupt government officials on Message In A Hammer, and basking in evergreen moments on All The Difference.
Some Nights I Dream of Doors is an outstanding pedestal that allows Obongjayar take us on a ride to wherever he wants.
8. Blaqbonez – Young Preacher
Blaqbonez has been a name within the Nigerian rap scene for almost a decade, with the rapper finding local acclaim in his University days, winning Terry Tha Rapman’s rap competition.
Since his major label debut with Bad Boy Blaq, Blaqbonez has been brazen with his messaging– touching on sex, societal ills, and the endless games of the music industry – and assuming different personas to amplify his message.
For his latest persona, Young Preacher – also the name of his latest album – Blaqbonez showcases arguably his finest blend of thematic music yet, using samples, a cohesive soundscape, and unreal dexterity to elucidate his sermon.
Although this is arguably Blaqbonez’s best album yet, it pales in comparison to other albums that have graced the year. In another year, this is easily a top-five album.
9. BOJ – Gbagada Express
BOJ gathers his close-knit associates on Gbagada Express- an ode to the city that raised him – his first solo album since 2017 Magic.
Carrying 21 collaborators, Boj tells the story of everything that has shaped him into the artist he is across sixteen songs.
Although the album can quickly become an earworm to BOJ lovers, it is a little harder for newer listeners to understand the weight of Boj’s transition from Gbagada Express to international stages.
10. SDC – Palmwine Music 3
For what might be the last in the series of Palmwine Music installments, ShowDemCamp has gathered the most lavish assortment of superstars for Palmwine Music 3.
The music is punctuated by skits that accentuate the storyline and platforms of some of the finest fast-rising artists as well as long-time collaborators across seventeen songs.
Palm Wine Music 3 is a befitting grand finale for the series if ShowDemCamp decides to discontinue it.
Santi – Subaru Boys: Final Heaven
Santi has established himself as a visionary within the Nigerian music scene, pushing the frontiers of the soundscape, visual identity, and overall, culture.
After the critical success of Mandy In The Jungle, Santi announced his third album, Subaru Boys: Final Heaven, proclaiming it as a universe of its own. The album was well-heralded and postponed multiple times.
Upon release, it was critically received but Subaru Boys is a great shaft, that separates bandwagon Santi fans and true Santi believers who strongly believe in Santi supremacy.
Ckay – Sad Romance
After having the biggest Afrobeats song ever in streaming history, a lot was expected of Ckay’s debut album.
With great success comes great responsibility. Due to the viral push from Tik-Tok, a lot more fans were introduced to Ckay’s emo-afrobeat world through Love Nwantiti, escaping layers of his artistic evolution
Sad Romance stays true to Ckay’s artistic core showcasing the growth and offering diverse pockets of his ever-evolving artistry.
Black Sherif – The Villain I Never Was
Since his explosion with the First Sermon and Second Sermon last year, Black Sherif has been underpinned as an artist to watch out for, with his gruff vocals, emotion-fueled storytelling, and momentum-driving beats.
At the end of last year, Burna Boy hopped on the remix of Second Sermon, cementing the artist as one of the next-rated talents within the continent.
At the start of this year, Black Sherif released his most commercially successful single yet, Kwaku The Traveler. The song rose to the peak of the global Shazam charts.
On The Villian I Never Was, Black Sherif returns to his artistic core, taking listeners on his journey of strife, loss, and relentless hustle from his days in Konongo Zongo till now.
The Villain I Never is the most episodic entry into Black Sherif’s thoughts as he wrestles with his new-found fame and becomes a voice of reason for Ghanaian and African youth in the continent and at large.