If the Nigerian music industry was to be described in one word for the calendar year 2022, it would be ELECTRIC! And rightfully so; the previous year, 2021, was the perfect ushering in of a new order to the music space in the country, it showed Nigerian music heads, lovers, and listeners alike that the way forward was through streaming and partnership or deals with high profile international music tastemakers and distributors. Why? This is simply because the majority of music distribution has gone digital as opposed to the gatekeeping format of radio and TV pre-COVID.
Satisfactorily, these digital streaming platforms (Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and Audiomack majorly) were patronized by music fans in the country this year, paving the way for more consumption of sounds which inevitably bred new stars in 2022, either artists themselves or producers who cooked the beautiful instrumentals for our listening pleasures.
This year, 2022, gave us a chunk load of songs that blew up sporadically, some of which were pre-destined for the big stages while others crept and kept crawling till they flew to the top of the charts and received recognition as hits.
At MediaNaija, we have tasked ourselves with going through the strenuous process of selecting just 10 out of the 100’s of amazing songs that got released this year, and we have tagged this piece “The 10 Best Nigerian Songs of 2022”. The listing will take a countdown format. Enjoy!
10. Rush – Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr seemed to be in a shell for most of 2022 until the release of her blockbuster-worthy smash-hit record “Rush” on the 16th of September. Although, she had featured on fellow label mate Magixx’s “Love Don’t Cost A Dime (Re-Fix)” and a few other singles, the celestial being (as she profoundly calls herself) moved in silence and waited for the right moment to strike gold with the timely release of “Rush”. What else better describes such a brilliant move, other than “Sabi girl no dey too like talk”?
With “Rush”, Ayra Starr’s confidence was on full display as she stated her mission—“Me no get the time for the hate and the bad energy, got my mind on my money”. A high-energy track produced by Andre Vibez, simultaneously acting as a “get the bag. Hustle hard” motivational call and a “let’s get giddy on the dance floor” invite, “Rush” definitely achieved its purpose.
If you are wondering what purpose that is, rest assured “E dey rush well well, e be much (E be much)” because “Na God dey make my tap, e dey rush”.
9. Girlfriend – Ruger
The way Nigeria is designed, it is fiddly to see a young man in his 20’s lift his tank top up to his waist-line while swerving his not-so-wiggly man butt left-right-up-and-down in a very robotic motion, even more, unbelievable to explain that the not-so-wiggly robotic dance attracted mainstream attention, to the point of becoming a TikTok trend, but somehow Ruger made it look cool, amusing and entertaining.
The deep bass and horns on “Girlfriend” production immediately appeased the ears of Ruger’s fans and music lovers once news got out through a snippet of the song’s imminent release.
Ruger composed “Girlfriend” with a passive voice as if to say “I know I’m in the wrong, but sinning can be sweet sometimes” and that he artistically painted through self-explanatory but cunning lyrics.
Ruger is a cheater! He is proud of it and not afraid to declare to the world his unfaithful doings, despite having a girlfriend. This fact just makes the song even more delectable and relatable to his fellow cheaters around the world.
As for the ladies, they hate to love it, because “Girlfriend” contains marvelous rhythms and melodies which they cannot help but listen to; coupled with the amazing visuals, “Girlfriend” made its mark this year.
8. Electricity – Pheelz, Davido
Pheelz majestically completed his transition from a beatmaker to a singing superstar in 2022. He calls on one of Nigeria’s finest hitmakers, Davido, for a collab on the irradiant “Electricity” single. To say they both “ate” would be an understatement, they delivered!
In “Electricity”, Pheelz and his partner-in-crime, Davido, delivered “Vibes on a frequency”. They acknowledged “Life is not that deep”, so they persuaded the girls who are in the mood to dance to “Shake it, (shake it) / Shake it baby, shake it (shake it)”, inviting everyone to get absorbed in the pleasing sound of their tune.
You cannot help but move a part of your body anytime “Electricity” starts to play. It is sure to remain that way “Till infinity”.
7. KU LO SA – Oxlade
The absence of a lover by their partner will always be felt. Now imagine when the case is that of a long-distance relationship with a low probability of reconnecting anytime soon. This explains Oxlade’s predicament on “KU LO SA”. No wonder he painstakingly begs his lover to return as soon as possible, so they can exchange body fluids and feel the warmth of each other.
“KU LO SA” made its on-screen debut as an incredibly vocal and physical performance by the talented artiste that Oxlade has grown to become; the green background, black leather jacket, and pants, right hand swinging forward while the left hand is placed on the right chest video created a frenzy on the internet for quite a few months. Eventually making history as the most-watched “A COLORS SHOW” video on YouTube, Oxlade indeed brought the world “KU LO SA” lyric-by-lyric.
The falsetto sung “Ku lo sa / Omo I want make we dey— (Ku lo sa) / Ah! Girl I wan make you— (Ku lo sa) / Oh lo lo, I for like make you— (Pull over) / Oh, no (Ku lo sa oh)” was a thrilling moment to witness, and still is!
6. Overloading (OVERDOSE) – Mavins, LADIPOE, Ayra Starr, Crayon, Boy Spyce, Magixx
The first-ever new rejuvenated Mavins all-star collaboration featured rapper LADIPOE and singers Crayon, Ayra Starr, Magix, and one of Don Jazzy’s latest signings, Boy Spyce.
The Don Jazzy-produced record had his label signees sing about being intoxicated in love. Everyone attacked it (that is, falling in love) from a different perspective, giving “Overloading (OVERDOSE)” a special feel and unique meanings to different listeners as their relations to the amazing track differ per (featured) act.
Yet again, Don Jazzy showed why he is a main! Assembling all 5 acts to write verses that fit into a less than 3-minute track is not a simple task, but Don Jazzy rose to the challenge, maneuvering it with relative ease and the product is what we have placed at the 6th spot–“Overloading (OVERDOSE)”.
5. Xtra Cool – Young Jonn
“Uloma, I dey on my ten toe”, the award-winning producer turned pop singer, Young Jonn, opens his verse on the catchy “Xtra Cool” jam.
Young Jonn, although hindered by factors like career and location, still begs his lover not to desert him because of the limited time spent together. “And I don tell you tire, make we dey like Xtra Cool / Oh, can we go back to the time when this loving sese bèèrè? / You know I love you but I’m always on the road”, he completes the opening verse.
What makes “Xtra Cool” a likable song? The fast-paced Amapiano-infused production, coupled with Youn Jonn’s heartwarming reassuring lyrics. That is enough to make anyone go back to their ex, crawling on their knees, for them to be taken back.
4. Calm Down – Rema
That shameless banter about Rema not writing his songs properly, filling them with shabby words and indecipherable phrases was put to rest by “Calm Down”. The naysayers have nothing to say, hate or despise about the young star that Rema is, other than joining the rest of the world in the enjoyment of the border-crossing anthem.
The well-illustrated lyrical masterpiece by Rema painted a vivid picture of him at a party sighting a beautiful girl dressed in yellow, how he approached her but was initially given attitude by the girl, his triumph which leads to a later daydreaming about this beautiful (unnamed) muse. A modern-day classic record!
Yes, Rema titles his second single of the year “Calm Down”, but the opposite is what ended up happening as the song tore up charts, dominated air space, and received various certifications worldwide, ultimately securing a remix with Latin-American pop star, Selena Gomez, which not only helped solidify the song’s status but increased its reach across the globe.
Rema was right! The Andre Vibez-made “Calm Down” is truly “Another banger”, a force to be reckoned with.
3. Sungba (Remix) – Asake, Burna Boy
If the 2022 Nigerian music scene were to be expressed through an act, Asake would be the fitting representative. Since announcing his presence earlier in the year with the Olamide-assisted “Omo Ope”, to the crazy run of back-to-back hit songs he put out, Asake aka Mr Money came through with the vibes.
When the original version of “Sungba” was released as one of the four songs in the February 17th released “Ololade Asake” EP, the mayhem that ensued is pale in comparison to what the Burna Boy feature will later bring.
The mayhem quickly transformed into havoc the moment we heard “Tell me what you see when you look at me” by Burna Boy, and it has been undefeatable ever since as “Sungba (Remix)” has crossed into foreign shores, making citizens of countries who don’t understand Pidgin, talk more of Yoruba, jump on their feet in excitement, the moment the song comes on.
2. Buga (Lo Lo Lo) – Kizz Daniel, Tekno
Of all the other eight songs on this list, “Buga (Lo Lo Lo)” happens to be the most organically homegrown hit. The May 6 release alongside other heavy hitters (like Victony‘s “Outlaw” EP, Zinoleesky and Naira Marley‘s “O Dun”, “Sugarcane (Remix)” by Camidoh, Mayorkun, King Promise and Darkoo, and Young Jonn‘s “Dada (Remix)” with Davido) could not undermine the shining star aura “Buga (Lo Lo Lo)” would radiate.
“Wake up, wake up, collect your money” begins the international smash-hit produced by Reward Beatz; to be honest, Kizz Daniel and Tekno have mastered the intricate art of making a hit song, despite their frequent use of minimalist lyrics and going with the trends. That skillful art paid off big time on “Buga (Lo Lo Lo)”.
The only concern on the minds of both artistes was reiterated in the call, “Let me see you (go low low low)”, and the citizens of planet earth responded favorably, putting on their dancing shoes, moving to the Amapiano beat and trumpet horns to “Buga won” as they should rightfully.
Safe to say, “Buga (Lo Lo Lo)” landed “softly on a sofa floor” as it is placed with care at the No. 2 spot.
1. Last Last – Burna Boy
With “Last Last”, Burna Boy proved true the statement—“gangsters need loving too”. The image the Port Harcourt-bred superstar gives off is that of an always serious soul, a freedom fighter, and a driller if need be, but in “Last Last”, he lets down his guard, revealing a never seen side to his humanity—vulnerability.
Burna Boy’s romantic hopes with his then-girlfriend got shattered like glass on a ceramic floor. The heartache lingers from such a traumatizing heartbreak, and nothing in the world would have prepared us for the stellar tune Burna Boy was about to record.
Everything about “Last Last” is spiffing! From the Chopstix intuitive sample of Toni Braxton‘s “He Wasn’t Man Enough” to the Asake backup crowd vocals to Burna’s in-depth breakdown of what troubles his heart, every second of the 2:52-minute long track accounted for its greatness.
Now, that the top 10 has been concluded, it will only be gracious to include some few honourable mentions in this write-up. They are:
• BACK IN UNI – Blaqbonez
• Bad To Me – Wizkid
• Terminator – Asake
• Soso – Omah Lay
• Bandana – Fireboy DML, Asake
• Soweto – Victony, Tempoe
• Philo – Bella Shmurda, Omah Lay
• Finesse – Pheelz, BNXN fka Buju
• Ijo (Laba Laba) – Crayon
2022—a great year for Nigerian music, and its industry!