There’s a lot of music in circulation these days (like, A LOT), so maybe I shouldn’t blame you for not consuming everything that dropped in 2022. From Asa’s triumphant return with V to Burna Boy’s moments of introspection on Love, Damini, the music scene was popping like crazy.
But in case your playlist got drowned out by all the heavily-promoted albums this year, these ten are totally worthy of your attention.
Sad Romance — CKay
Why you should’ve listened: Love Nwantiti is one of the biggest Nigerian songs of the last decade, but what if I told you CKay has songs that’ll drag Love Nwantiti by its edges because they’re a lot better than it? Seductive and playful, CKay’s Sad Romance is a well-thought-out record that’s unfortunately drowned out by his overplayed viral breakout song.
Standout songs: Samson and Delilah, You and Mmadu.
Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable — Somadina
Why you should’ve listened: Somadina makes music for the emo kid obsessed with anime, who believes fairies exist and dreams of floating in space. Drenched in delicate punk-rock and ethereal vocals, the music on Somadina’s Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable sounds just as weird as the album title. The record might be an acquired taste, but best believe it’s tasty AF.
Standout songs: Small Paradise, Citrus Tears and Crzy Girl
YPSZN3 — Psycho YP
Why you should’ve listened: Wizkid has said, “Rap is dead,” but I’m confident he hasn’t heard Psycho YP’s music or his 2022 EP, YPSZN3. Presenting the final instalment of his YPSZN series, Psycho YP curates a project that creatively cuts across trap, grime, drill, and R&B. YPSZN3 is unapologetic, emotional and loud AF — exactly how I like my music.
Standout songs: My Country People, Haffa?, Bando Diaries and Sinner
Festival of the Sun — Ogranya
Why you should’ve listened: You know that friend who talks about having a hoe phase after their breakup but still ends up in a brand new relationship two weeks later? That’s Ogranya, or at least, that’s what his music sounds like. Festival of the Sun is a poetic EP about love, yearning and heartbreak. Ogranya wants you to have a good time but still think about that random ex as soon as the dancefloor empties out.
Standout songs: Brenda, I’m Sorry and Ecstasy.
Matter of Time — Dami Oniru
Why you should’ve listened: “I sing what I feel. Don’t know how it looks to you,” sings Dami Oniru on Just 4 U, Matter of Time’s bold opening track — and that’s exactly what she does over the EP’s 20-minute run time. Dropping nuggets of wisdom on love, self-love and the desire for something more out of life, Dami Oniru uses this EP to position herself as one of the most exciting acts on the music scene right now.
Standout songs: Soft Life, Know My Name and Just 4 U.
Bahd — Falz
Why you should’ve listened: For his first project since 2019’s Moral Instruction, Falz takes a surprising break from socially conscious music to make an album about having fun and being in love. It sounds like a different version of Falz, but somehow it still slaps like old Falz.
Standout songs: All Night, Parampe, Another Me and Woman.
For Good Reason — Aylø
Why you should’ve listened: It’s hard to explain, but Aylø’s music sounds like what I imagine being high is like — immersive, emotional, confusing, adventurous but incredibly fun. On For Good Reason, Aylø builds on the heavy trap/R&B foundation that has helped him out from alté peers like Odunsi the Engine, Tay Iwar and Santi.
Standout song: James Bond, Tekkers and Blvnk
My WurlD With U — Wurld
Why you should’ve listened: When Wurld first popped up on my radar with Show You Off in 2016, he was the unknown IJGB looking to find space in the growing soundscape of Nigerian music. Six years later, with several hit singles to his name, Wurld dropped My WurlD With U, an album that takes a deep dive into the life of a famous man just trying to find love between Lagos and Atlanta.
Standout songs: Same As You, Press and Sad Tonight
Something New — Yinka Bernie
Why you should’ve listened: While Omah Lay’s Boy Alone introduced a wide range of Nigerians to sad emo boy music, no one executes this sound with the same level of vulnerability and honesty as Yinka Bernie does. 2022 was a challenging year, and Something New reminded me it’s okay to break down and rebuild as many times as is necessary for my journey.
Standout songs: It’s Okay to Cry and Who Do You Call?
Some Nights I Dream of Doors — Obongjayar
Why you should’ve listened: Obongjayar is more than just a singer; he’s a movement all on his own. Wielding a voice almost instantly recognisable, Obongjayar’s songs sound almost intrusive, like you’ve been granted access to someone’s diary. But the best part? This diary reads like something you wrote because Obongjayar’s stories feel universal — we’ve all lived them.
Standout songs: I Wish It Was Me, Tinko Tinko, Paradise and Message in a Hammer.