It’s been a pleasure to watch the modern sound of afrobeats grow. The genre’s current torch bearers – Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido – contributed heavily to boosting afrobeats to the heights it flies at today. Their work, along with the contributions of others, made it easier for newcomers to make a name for themselves, prosper, and reach listeners far outside of the African continent. 2022 is absolutely evidence of that.
Two of the aforementioned names, Wizkid and Burna Boy, delivered projects that are certainly worth the argument for best afrobeats album of 2022. However, Asake’s show-stealing effort with his debut album puts him in the conversation for the genre’s breakout star and the name behind its most impressive album. Nonetheless, what made 2022 such a great year for afrobeats albums is the variety of artists that showed up and showed out with their A-game with releases that perfectly captured the best of their artistry and the excellence of the genre as a whole.
So, let’s get into it. Here are the ten best afrobeats albums of 2022 in alphabetical order:
Adekunle Gold — Catch Me If You Can
Afrobeats’ stellar 2022 year kicked off with the release of Adekunle Gold’s fourth album Catch Me If You Can. Unlike many artists who shared projects in the genre this year, Adekunle is undoubtedly a veteran in this space. That experience comes alive through his fearless approach on the album’s 14 songs and the wisdom that lives through each one. He curses at Satan on “Mase Mi” (which translates to “don’t tempt me” in Yoruba) and champions his journey on the project’s title track. Catch Me If You Can is a compilation of the things that Adekunle Gold does best, that is, deliver sweet and sensual records that satisfy the ear (see: “Woman”) while also trying new things and letting his innate talents guide him as he does on “High” and “Dior, Dior, Dior.” – Wongo Okon
Asake — Mr. Money With The Vibe
Nigerian singer Asake shot out like a rocket in 2022. From the year’s start to its final weeks, Asake found numerous ways to stand out in the afrobeats genre that he was fairly new to. His debut album Mr. Money With The Vibe stands as the best offering from the genre in 2022. Whether it be the project’s appetizing singles like his “Sungba (Remix)” with Burna or “Peace Be Unto You (PBUY)” or the album’s fulfilling deep cuts like “Dupe” or “Joha,” Asake operates with a fervor that is both admirable and infectious for the listener, making it impossible to get through the project without showcasing your best legwork moves, even if you’re alone. Point being, with Mr. Money With The Vibe, Asake won 2022 in afrobeats. – W.O.
Black Sherif — The Villain I Never Was
This year changed Black Sherif’s life forever. Things really got going for the Ghanaian artist at the end of 2021 when Burna Boy remixed “Second Sermon.” From then on, Sherif pressed the pedal to the metal in what turned out to be a vibrant year for him, which gave us his debut album The Villain I Never Was. The 13 tracks that make up Black Sherif’s debut stand out for their rawness and rough edges. He prefers power over patient precision as he stands as a towering figure throughout the album. Black Sherif commands the tracks he arrives on and he commands the rooms he steps into. With The Villain I Never Was, he seeks to paint himself in a better light despite past tribulations, and succeeds in doing so. – W.O.
Blaqbonez — Young Preacher
Nigerian rapper Blaqbonez made sure that his name would not be left out of afrobeats’ monumental 2022. Eighteen months after releasing his debut Sex Over Love, he returns with his second effort Young Preacher. Don’t mistake the project’s title for a biblical approach or a gospel influence on its 13 songs. The preaching that Blaqbonez does on his second album has to do with his love for women, adjustments and lessons learned with fame, and the pains of his past. Through confessions of wrongs in romance on “Back In Uni” and his commitment to holding onto his wealth and not blowing it off on “Fake Nikes,” Blaqbonez moves with an honest face dedicated to simply being himself, for better or for worse. Through a listen of Young Preacher, it’s certainly the former. – W.O.
BOJ — Gbagada Express
All BOJ needed was one spotlight moment to prove his talents to the world. It eventually came last year with an appearance on Dave’s We’re All Alone In This Together. Just like any artist should, BOJ used that moment to put out his best work with his third album Gbagada Express. On the project, BOJ transcends to new heights, something that’s hard to deny thanks to appearances from Wizkid, Davido, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Buju, Fireboy DML, and more spread throughout the album. Even though, BOJ’s own work is an elevated version of himself. The direction and inspirations are clearer and his improvement is undeniable. With Gbagada Express, BOJ used his roots to display his growth, a connection that makes the experience of his third album that much better. – W.O.
Burna Boy — Love, Damini
Since he deemed himself the African Giant back in 2019, Burna Boy has lived up to that title and then some. For his sixth album Love, Damini, the Nigerian superstar sought to extend his global reach and recognition as he’d done with African Giant and 2020’s Twice As Tall. What we received was a body of work that watched Burna Boy sit comfortably on his throne as he invited names from all corners of the world for records that celebrated life (“Rollercoaster”), championed a perfect companion (“Toni-Ann Singh”), and committed to a lifelong love (“For My Hand”). Even in Burna’s solo moments, he unsurprisingly gave us memorable records like the summer anthem “Last Last” and the celebratory “It’s Plenty.” All in all, Love, Damini is proof of Burna Boy’s resounding stature in music. – W.O.
Naira Marley — God’s Timing’s The Best
It’s a bit hard to believe that Naira Marley just released his debut album this year. He’s far from a new name in the genre as his catalog dates back to at least 2017 with collaborations alongside notable names like Olamide. However, with God’s Timing’s The Best, Marley makes it clear that the best things happen on their own time. The least you can do is be ready for when that time comes. Marley showcases the many elements of his lifestyle that, together, made for perfect combination to display on his debut. Whether its gratitude (“Happy”), exuberance (“Drink Alcohol Like Its Water”), or romance (“No Panties”), Naira Marley gives listeners a little bit of everything on God’s Timing’s The Best. – W.O.
Omah Lay — Boy Alone
In a year driven by uptempo afrobeats, like amapiano, Omah Lay found success with a softer and more rhythmic approach. It’s evident on his long-awaited debut album Boy Alone. Aside from appearances by Justin Bieber and Nigerian singer Tay Iwar, Lay handles the majority of Boy Alone on his own with records that showcase his most vulnerable self. He confesses to his imperfections on the somber “I’m A Mess” and lays his heart on wax with “Woman” and “Never Forget.” He searches for peace on “Safe Haven” while also fighting against his “Temptations.” It takes a certain kind of strength to be as openly vulnerable as Omah Lay is, and to his benefit, his will to do so helped him to create a great body of work. – W.O.
Rema — Rave & Roses
Rema’s first global impact was felt back in 2019 with his breakout hit “Dumebi.” Nearly three years, numerous singles, and few EPs later, Rema was finally ready to tell his story with a debut album. Rave & Roses arrived in the top half of the year and helped to propel him to the heights of the afrobeats genre. “Calm Down,” “Soundgasm,” and “FYN” spread far and wide as the records took space on many fans’ summer anthem playlists. More niche cuts like “Dirty,” “Mara,” and “Love” gave listeners additional reasons to root for and stan Rema. The best thing about Rave & Roses is how fun and lively the album is, and in a year that was the world’s most open and free one in a while, it was all we could ask for. – W.O.
Wizkid — More Love, Less Ego
Wizkid’s fifth album More Love, Less Ego is just as much of a worldwide message as it is another impressive addition to his discography. Through its 13 songs, Wizkid sought to showcase the many sides of love and how beautiful it can be at its peak. He had fun with it on “Bad To Me” while diving into its different flavors on “Slip N Slide.” Wizkid embraced the passion on “Deep” and hoped for its longevity on “Frames (Who’s Gonna Know).” What makes More Love, Less Ego more impressive is that the calls for love are indirect. Wizkid’s own endeavors in romance are meant to inspire. We watch from afar and desire for something similar in our day-to-day lives. Now, that’s the magic of Wizkid. – W.O.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.