Welcome back to list season! I mean, it’s that time of the year, when we recap a year of infectious songs across genres; from Afrobeats to amapiano, R&B to rap and drill, these tracks broke barriers and crossed borders
Below, you’ll find the list of the 22 best songs of 2022. Do check them out, discover something new and if you want more lists— we have got them right here.
The songs are listed were based on the taste of the editor, general stream count and airplay and overall popularity. This list also serves as a celebration of what mattered to folks in the cars, clubs, and subcultures on the continent. In case your favorite song didn’t make the cut. Do comment it below or let me know via Twitter.
22. Ayra Starr — “Rush”
Following her 2021 album “19 & Dangerous”, Ayra Starr cemented her status as Nigeria’s It girl. From her daring fashion sense to her chart-smashing singles, she is the moment — and she’s enjoying it, too. Her knack for confidence-boosting this year serenaded with a special shine in her hit “Rush,” as she sings, “Me no getty time for the hate and the bad energy/Got mi mind on my money.” It’s a good reminder that the only thing we should be chasing is the bag.
21. Black Sherif — “Kwaku the Traveller”
“Of course, I f*cked up/Who never f*ck up? Hands in the air! No hands?!“; chant-rapped Black Sherif with conviction on “Kwaku the Traveller”. Beyond the viral line, though, the track is a vulnerable and honest account of a young and determined hustler. The Konongo-born rapper’s other interesting releases have included “Soja”, and full length album “The Villain I Never Was”.
19. Burna Boy — “Last Last”
Backed by a bulletproof Toni Braxton sample, Burna Boy crooned about coping with weed and liquor in the wake of lost love on “Last Last”. The single gained massive success and so did the “Love, Damini” album.
18. Fireboy DML & Asake — “Bandana”
In his Playboy era, Fireboy DML linked with Asake for the uplifting “Bandana,” donning theirs a la 2Pac while committing to defining their legacies through music. “Music chose me,” Fireboy coos smugly. “Just know this and know peace.”
17. Sheebah & Mudra Di Viral — “AYI”
After much anticipation, Sheebah and DCM Empire’s Mudra finally dropped ‘AYI”; a song that’s enjoyed massive airplay; and further adding to Mudra’s ever-expanding chain of hit songs like the remade “Kimuli Kyange” with Vinka and most recently “Balo Balo”.
16. Gunna & Future — “pushin P” feat. Young Thug
Getting a spot across the spot. Pesbians. Having intercourse with a cup of water. “pushin P” thrives off the chemistry of the three: Gunna, Future and Young Thug at their most unhinged and generated a year’s worth of memes and viral tiktoks.
15. Kizz Daniel & Tekno — “Buga”
Kizz Daniel doesn’t make bad songs, and his collaboration with Tekno might be his most inescapable jam to date. Released in May, “Buga” has been soundtracking dance videos and lighting up searches all year.
Accompanied with a technicolor TG Omori-directed music video, “Buga (Lo Lo Lo)” quickly rose to prominence and since become one of the year’s most-Shazamed records.
13. Uncle Waffles & Tony Duardo — “Tanzania” feat. Sino Msolo & BoiBizza
22-year-old DJ Lungelihle Zwane Amapiano DJ popularly known as Uncle Waffles became synonymous with a good time. Her career took off this year thanks to “Tanzania,” the lead-off single in her mission to take the South African music scene global. “Tanzania” is a deep, mystic dance track, where soft vocals brush against its knocking log drums.
12. Ykee Benda & Chembazz — “Nkufeelinga”
Mpaka Records Founder teamed up with one of the freshest voices on the scene Chembazz and the two simply floated on silky single;- Nkufeelinga as produced by Bomba.
11. Jovial & Marioo — “Mi Amor”
Tanzanian artist Marioo dropped this gem back in February, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The song, which also features Kenyan songbird Jovial, is an ode to all lovers, as the two artists confess their undying affection to their muse.
10. Zex Bilangilangi – Number Emu
Zex’s “Number Emu” is one of Uganda’s brightest takes on amapiano — and that is by design. Produced by top producer Nessim, the feel good track is taken off the “Magazine” singer’s “HERCULES TEN TIMES” album.
9. Ruger – Girlfriend
Since his arrival on the scene with “One Shirt,” featuring his label boss D’Prince and Rema, Ruger has solidified himself as an inimitable talent with a voice of gold. After playing with bold splashes of dancehall and Afropop across his EP The Second Wave, Ruger released “Girlfriend,” a catchy song that earned the singer new levels of recognition due to a viral clip of him doing the über-popular uMlando dance, which originated in South Africa. If his follow-up EP, The Second Wave (Deluxe), is a statement of Ruger’s continued evolution, then “Girlfriend” is its legitimizing force.
8. Rema — Calm Down
Along with tracks like “Soundgasm” and “FYN,” “Calm Down” is one of the many standout moments on Rema’s debut album, Rave & Roses. In the song, which has a hypnotic guitar loop and a rhythmic bounce as the bedrock, Rema narrates a tale about a romantic connection he has with a girl he first met at a party. Now boasting a Selena Gomez-assisted remix, “Calm Down” continues to unlock new career highlights and milestones for the Mavin Records wunderkind. Another banger!
7. Camidoh feat. Mayorkun, King Promise, and Darkoo — ‘Sugarcane (Remix)’
Before Ghanaian singer Camidoh updated his 2021 single “Sugarcane” with a remix featuring Nigeria’s Mayorkun, King Promise, and British Nigerian breakout star Darkoo, the singer already had a handful of singles and a debut EP to his name. However, “Sugarcane (Remix)” placed the artist securely on the map and set him on the path to superstardom. Thanks to TikTok, Camidoh was inescapable, quickly becoming the soundtrack to African weddings, day parties, and gatherings in the summer. Now, with a digital edge over his contemporaries, Camidoh is setting a vast scope for where he can go next.
6. Victony and Tempoe — ‘Soweto’
In just two-and-a-half minutes, Nigerian singer Victony conveys on “Soweto” a lust as expansive as the Sahara and the thirst one might develop trudging through it. Though it’s named for a South African township, the twangy guitar and ominous flute of producer Tempoe’s soundscape give it the air of an American Western. It’s one of several gorgeous songs on Victony’s May EP, fittingly titled Outlaw. It’s the follow-up to his debut, Saturn, released two years prior.
5. Aṣa — Mayana
Aṣa — the Nigerian French singer-songwriter whose award-winning, self-titled debut arrived 15 years ago — delivered her fifth studio album this year, a stunning collection of smooth meditations on love and self. “Mayana” is one of V’s most hypnotizing tracks, all buoyant drums and sunny guitar. Though the album features stellar contemporary guests including Wizkid, the Cavemen, and Amaarae, the minimalist “Mayana” is a solo showcase, Aṣa’s heavenly falsetto effortless as she sings with the quiet assurance of someone who knows music is their calling.
4. Asake feat. Burna Boy — ‘Sungba (Remix)’
Given his unrivaled run this year, many consider Asake (the king of sounds and blues) the breakout star of 2022, and he is arguably Nigeria’s most bankable musician right now. However, the YBNL/ EMPIRE signee’s global ascendance began and was catalyzed by the Burna Boy-assisted remix of his track “Sungba.” Burna’s opening line — “Tell me what you see when you look at me” — resonated and rang through in different regions, introducing Asake, who’d already scored eruptive national hits like “Omo Ope,” to the rest of the world.
3. Pheelz feat. BNXN fka Buju — ‘Finesse’
YOLO-themed “Finesse” became an instant Afrobeats anthem thanks to its impossibly catchy “Ahhh, finesse!” “If I broke na my business.” hook. In the digital realm, it spawned multiple Tiktok challenges like the #FolakeChallenge.
2. Oxlade — ‘KU LO SA’
What began as an exclusive performance song for the German platform THE COLORS SHOW went on to become Oxlade’s biggest hit yet. Charged with the singer-songwriter’s signature stacked, velvety vocals and sultry delivery, “KU LO SA” (implying “closer”) is a sensual plea for intimacy that drew audiences far and wide to Oxlade’s universe. The smash tune recently received the remix treatment from Cuban-American pop star Camila Cabello in a bid to tap into and extend the song’s reach.
1. Malaika — Winnie Nwagi
In a year filled with many bangers, we have got to give it up for Swangz Avenue songbird Winnie Nwagi for putting out the most monstrous hit there’s been that is “Malaika”. Effortlessly and easily one of those tracks with a high replay value.
As always, find the full standout compilation on Spotify below!