The 5 Best Nigerian Albums of 2022
The music year for 2022 has come to a grand end. We had albums in the tens on a monthly basis. Here’s our ranking of the 5 best albums this year.
Albums, projects, bodies of work, or discography will always be relevant in the music space so long there are microphones to record the stories of artistes. Why? They define the artist; unlike hit songs that may give a glimpse of a particular artiste’s prospect, album(s) is/are what solidifies true artistry (at least, for the most part).
When the debate of “Who’s your G.O.A.T?” is brought to the roundtable discussion, as much as you would like to chip in the incredible numbers of the single(s) of your G.O.A.T artiste, you know deep down in your innermost chambers that albums are what make such arguments worth the while.
Picture it this way: albums are like the fictional Thor‘s hammer, only a few are worthy of praise. Hence, at Media Naija, we have taken the strenuous time and effort to streamline the many albums that the +234 had to offer in 2022 into just 5 patent albums. Just like The 10 Best Nigerian Songs of 2022 piece, this write-up will take a similar countdown format. Enjoy!
5. Young Preacher – Blaqbonez
If you do not know by now, Blaqbonez is a hedonist. He seeks pleasure in the philosophy of polyamory, a sharp contrast to the more practiced and generally acceptable monogamy culture in the nation of Nigeria. To the older generation, heck, even the youths, such an idea might appear horrendous. No wonder Blaqbonez readily admits to their school of thought, although letting them know that is his way of life; “They told me toxic music is sellin’ / But this one no be sales, this is real life, tell em‘”, he sounds off in “HOT BOY”, track No. 2.
With Young Preacher, Blaqbonez was able to capitalize off the success of his previous album with a similar theme, “Sex Over Love” (2021), but with a better-refined outlook on life, and less misogyny.
In Young Preacher, Blaqbonez introduced listeners to the early childhood events that might have turned him into the man that he is today—(1) abandonment issues [“Maybe it’s abandonment issues / . . . / My dad left me, mum had to hustle” (“HOT BOY”)], and (2) suffering [“I wouldn’t change a thing if I could / Maybe all this sufferin’ turned me to this man on the moon” (“YOUNG PREACHER”)].
It is such honest outlooks that make Young Preacher such a grand album. Coupled with the beautifully produced sampled tracks and lyrics interpolation, Blaqbonez was set for greater heights, one that only an artiste of his caliber could pull off without much hassle. Oh! Before we move on, another praise-worthy act Blaq’ showed off on his third album is his much-improved vocals, he sang so well, one would be tempted to reason he hired a vocal coach. Incredible!
4. Love, Damini – Burna Boy
Aging comes with a lot of mixed emotions: joy, pain, and introspection. You can name it all. Burna Boy turned 31 a week (July 2) before the release of his highly-anticipated sixth studio album—Love, Damini (July 7).
“I want you to listen to this and feel like it’s a rollercoaster ride. Catch a vibe, buss a whine, party like it’s your birthday, or even grab a tissue.”, Burna Boy penned down as he made “Love, Damini” available on all streaming platforms. Did he execute his ideas? Expeditiously! Leaving no trace or doubt in his musical ability.
Of all his 6 albums, Love, Damini, is Burna Boy’s most open yet. Instead of masquerading his emotions, flaws, and sentiments in freedom-fighting messages, party tunes, or braggadocious statements, Burna Boy readily acknowledged he needs to work on some human skills, like communication, anger management (“Love, Damini”), he gave room to enjoying the ups and reflecting on the downside of life (“Rollercoaster”), he basked in contentment and happiness (“Common Person”), he learned to minimize his anxiety (“How Bad Could It Be”), and staying focused on his goals, irrespective of how humongous others might think of it (“Wild Dreams”).
The “rollercoaster” effect does not go full cycle if all the listeners feel are just somber thoughts as perpetuated by Burna Boy, therefore a balance is struck on the album with tracks like “It’s Plenty”, “Jagele”, “Different Size” (to name a few) which elate your mood, making you feel on top of the moon, while records such as “Cloak & Dagger”, “Last Last”, and “Whiskey” snap you back to reality.
The tracklisting, the featured acts, the instrumentals, the vocals, and of course, the lyrical content all add up to provide the oomph expected from a Burna Boy-esque album. A rollercoaster ride indeed.
3. Boy Alone – Omah Lay
Pain has never felt appealing, but Omah Lay happened to have cracked the code, composed 14 sonorous tracks, and compiled them as a musical offering with the tag “Boy Alone”. A masterpiece debut album.
Sadness, grief, emptiness, alcoholism, and heartbreak were all touched on in Boy Alone, a bold move from a relatively new act on the scene, a commendable one at that.
In his young life on earth, Omah Lay, unfortunately, has gone through trying occurrences: losing his father (who the album is named after) at the tender age of 12, leaving home to fend for his mom and siblings at 13, doing menial jobs before joining the cult of illegal crude oil refiners in Marine Base, Port Harcourt.
All that dire circumstances summed up to making Omah Lay feel so much pain, and indulge in coping mechanisms which sadly involved drugs and alcohol, but on the bright side turned to the thoughtful album that is Boy Alone.
An album with the theme of Boy Alone seldomly makes it to the mainstream media, talk more of charting, but because of Omah Lay’s irresistible rhythms, and soft vocal approach, the relatability of the content in it, that is, the album, is off the room, as each listener had to sit down and digest it track-by-track, appreciating the long lost art of vulnerability which Omah Lay beautifully documented in his first album.
The boy might have been alone, but be rest assured the world listened!
2. Rave & Roses – Rema
1. speak or write about someone or something with great enthusiasm or admiration.
2. (Informal) a lively party involving dancing and drinking.
• Roses are most commonly associated with love and romance.
Combine the above definitions, and you have what Rema declares “Rave & Roses”, an interflow of sensual, romantic, and rip-roaring melodic anthems.
Right away from his eponymous EP, Rema showed signs of becoming a star. If they were any fragments left in cementing his star status, Rave & Roses like a skilled potter came and moulded every piece daintily. Finally, no one has a single reason to doubt the young star’s status.
For the most part, Rave & Roses conveyed surface-level romantic notes to Rema’s lover(s), but the highs were very high, so outstanding that the fictional Dare Devil could see it from a mile away. Tracks like “Divine”, “Calm Down”, “Are You There?”, “Addicted”, “Wine”, and “Runaway” provided an in-depth tour of Rema’s maturing mindset.
Rema is young with growing hormones needing company, love, and affection. That he delved into in full detail on his debut album, utilizing mettlesome music-making abilities and great producer chemistry (with London) to bring his vision for Rave & Roses to life. An applaudable feat!
1. Mr Money With The Vibe – Asake
The unprecedented rise to fame of the 2022 Nigerian music poster boy, Asake, is well captured in the lyrics “Iyanu yen shock won bakan biti Bad Boy Timz / Say wetin go be go be, dem no fit hold me on G / . . . / See am for my dream as I wear my crown” from “Nzanza”, track 8 of 12 off of the album.
Mr Money With The Vibe is just as written, full of fast BPM, log drums Amapiano productions; in summary—vibes. Skepticism filled the air when Asake announced his debut album. Why? The online Twitter community had bestowed an interesting title on him, the “Sungba Man” they called it because the beats to the pre-released singles sounded alike, with little to no noticeable tweaks in their instrumentation.
But with this debut album, Asake was able to beat such allegations, showing diversity in his sound and choice of instrumentals. “Muse”, “Dupe”, “Dull”, ”Nzanza”, “Ototo”, and “Reason” are apt testaments to that. Another ability Asake swanked, is the fact that he is more than a hit-chaser or a show-stopper, rather, with the help of the background crowd vocals he aided in making mainstream, Asake went the gospel and conscious music route on certain songs, needless to say—they flourished.
The wonderous transitioning in the album did not go missing, especially from tracks 6 to 10, but of greater importance are those of tracks 8, 9, and 10, which made the latter 3 mentioned tracks sound as if they were one nonstop song, but with distinct instrumentation and varying style. Transitioning at its finest!
The commercial success, and mainstream acceptance of Asake’s debut music album, make it Media Naija‘s No. 1 album of 2022. Safe to say, the prayer (“Oke agba ni mo gun yi o, e ma jen jabo / Eyin agba mo be yin o, mi o shako”) offered to God by the singer in the intro verse was fruitfully blessed by the Almighty.
As it is a custom, here are some honourable albums that were in consideration for the Top 5 spots:
• Horoscopes – Basketmouth
• Gbagada Express – BOJ
• Catch Me If You Can – Adekunle Gold
• V – Aṣa
• More Love, Less Ego – Wizkid