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The Best Albums of 2022: 10 – 1

You know what time it is! Time for… We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2022

As another crazy year is nearing its end, we are looking back at what it brought us or took away. Life went back to normal (or as normal as it can get) after the pandemic and we were lucky to be able to go to a pub with our friends, take our families on vacation or attend an event at a stadium packed with people. This normalcy was unfortunately quickly taken away in some parts of the world as conflicts arose, however people have shown enormous amounts of solidarity, strength, bravery and most of all, hope.

Our Christmas wish for this year is for people to never lose hope, to spend their precious time with the people they cherish the most and do what they love. We must say we are lucky enough to be able to do what we love, as music is all around us, so let’s see what happened in the music industry.

Thankfully, live music events came back everywhere, from your local punk band playing in a bar to the highest grossing tours of the year, Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour, Bad Bunny’s World’s Hottest Tour or Harry Styles’ Love on Tour. TikTok has continued its reign above all other social media, especially when it comes to creating viral songs and giving new upcoming artists the chance to explode.

Pop and rap music remain the pillars of the industry, 2022 however brought a surprising comeback of emo and pop punk, with My Chemical Romance bringing their hits back on tour, Avril Lavigne going back to her roots and Tom Delonge rejoining Blink-182. Other established artists have given us amazing things to be excited about, from Kendrick Lamar bringing Helen Mirren as a therapist for his music video to Beyoncé dropping an album without a notice for everyone to go crazy over. Taylor Swift took a break from re-recording her old material to bring us a new album and star in a movie.

Newer artists are also making their mark on the industry with Nova Twins using their chance to open for Bring Me The Horizon to the fullest and releasing a new rock album this year, Muna coming out with their best work yet on their self-titled album and SZA not only releasing an album, but also proving she can make anything sound good with a Twitter favourite Saturday Night Live skit.

Overall, this has been a great year for the comeback of music. Let’s have a look at We Plug Good Music’s 10 Best Albums of 2022 below, and then you can take a look at our entire list from album #50 here!

10.   Ravyn Lenae – Hypnos

After an array of EPs, one after the other, from Midnight Moonlight, Moon Shoes, and Crush, Ravyn Lenae fought with vigor to be revered in the R&B sphere and industry as a whole. Hypnos is a true testament. The album bursts with the amalgamation of genres, experimental notes, and beats. She bent the unblended and we luxuriated in it with her.

For such a young artist, Ravyn blessed listeners with a beautiful body of work with Hypnos. Take for a direct example, “Cameo” –the intro track on the album. A minute-long statement consisting of her breathy voice touches on her lighter ad-libs in the background. She mystifies the listener on this track into the unknown.

“Xtasy”, another fan-favorite on the album is bolder than most of the songs on Hypnos. The sensuality and dreaminess of the song tie the album altogether. Also, the way she communicated this love interest on Xtasy and matched the pace of the beat production by turning the heat up with her lyrics is spectacular.

Ravyn achieved her purpose on this album. It hypnotizes a listener from start to end. Certainly deserves a spot on the best albums across all genres in 2022.

9.     Little Simz – NO THANK YOU

UK’s finest Little Simz return with this tape induces a content feeling for hip-hop lovers worldwide. The album has been out for a few weeks but it goes toe to toe with rap albums of 2022.

NO THANK YOU ushers in with a five-minute intro “Angel” of never-ending spitting. Little Simz is pouring herself into this song about various topics but making it seem like one topic. It is a perfect arrangement. The vocalist blends in with angel-like singing, taking the listener into a peaceful zone.

The switch-ups in this album are refreshing, from peaceful-sounding “Angel” to “Gorilla” is a bold transition. She channels her pain into the song. But you appreciate the way she goes about it, there isn’t a force of using vulgar language. She is speaking bluntly.

As you listen to the album in order, you’re sucked into the troubles, and hurdles she had to overcome with record label problems and transitioning to being an independent artist. This album is a protest in art form.

You get to understand the full intent of NO THANK YOU by track number 4, “No Merci”. Simz says, “I was down and out had my bank account untamed / Trusting of the people billing every call I made / everybody here getting money off my name”, she adds on, “Irony is, I’m the only one not getting paid.”

NO THANK YOU is a back to basics Hip-Hop Album, due to the lyrics doing all the work. Little Simz may have been late to the 2022 release roster, but she understood the assignment.

8.     Conway the Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes

7.     SAULT – 11

6.     Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

We should have known that his elongated silence indicated preparation for a new era. When Kendrick Lamar broke the silence with encrypted messages on social media, that should have been clearer. And he didn’t disappoint. Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is soulful, enriching, and memorable.

The album is transcendence in artistry and an ante up Kendrick Lamar’s greatness. His albums put together are a progression of his conscious-spiritual rap. The nuance in theme from album to album, and now Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is one reason he is one of the greatest of all time.

2022 in music was the rebirth of artists who were at their prime from the early 2000s to 2010s. To name a few, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, and Beyonce all were a force to be reckoned with, and this year they released projects and albums that confirmed their greatness, growth as artists, and comfort in the art of music making.

Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers isn’t just one of the best albums of the year. It is a moment, an era that is still ongoing with Kendrick’s recent release of “Count Me Out” this month. A perfect way to send out 2022 and the album.

5.     SZA – SOS

2022 belonged to Kendrick Lamar’s TDE with the many drops we received. SZA’s SOS is one special return since her last project Ctrl in 2017. To entice her fans, she started off her rollout in 2020 with “Good Days”, then the rest followed.

The album is a completely different sound from Ctrl, more mature. The title track “SOS”, is so on theme with the cover art and what the title actually means. SZA’s attention to detail just from the intro track is the reason she’s creme de la creme in R&B.

She says in the intro, “Coming back, she so candid / coming back, snatched like bandit / coming back, this ain’t canned shit / I’m organic with my fresh squeezed.” The pen talk is insane in this one-minute-and-fifty-seven starter.

The album is experimental, but it works. My favorites: “Seek & Destroy”, “Low”, and “Snooze” all have distinct sounds. Listening to them in order feels like a nice day at the beach–the waves splashing far away, murmured voices in the background, the sun smiling brightly, and so on.

It’s a beautiful rollercoaster of sounds, high-to-low notes, and ad-libs. SOS is one of the best albums of the year for certain.

4.     ROSALÍA – MOTOMAMI

3.     Nova Twins – Supernova

Supernova is the sophomore album from UK rising stars, Nova Twins. Released on June 17, 2022 by Marshall records, the 11- track record perfectly showcases the talents of the duo comprising of Georgia South (bass/keyboards/vocals) and Amy Love (vocals/guitar).

In the beginning, I found it hard to believe that they were just a duo, because of how rich their music is, but they are indeed two young women, paving their own way in the rock scene.

There are multiple underlying themes in this album such as embracing yourself, power and love. Instrumentally, the songs blend well into each other, while maintaining a semblance of uniqueness. Nova Twins do not only stick to their rock/punk/alternative elements, but they also surprise us by meshing R&B, rap and electropop into the mix, which does not deviate from their style, but elevates the songs on the album.

Love’s flexible vocal range ranges from high and melodic to lower, almost whispery tones, accompanied by South’s backing vocals. Moreso, it would not be a rock album without the song where they shred with reckless abandon, guaranteed to start mosh pits. Also, not only are they masters at experimenting, but also at lyricism.

Furthermore, we get to see their sassy honesty, and as two women of colour, making it in a genre that is dominated by a certain demographic, songs like “Cleopatra”, which addresses being proud of your own heritage, feel like an anthem for people to embrace their heritage.

Supernova is their own sound, the Nova Twins sound, with their own rules. They put their heart and soul into this, while also proving that they cannot be tied down. As a woman of colour with a love for rock, having been told that it should not be the music I listen to, seeing them out there representing gives me the good kind of goosebumps.

I would recommend this album to anyone from any walk of life, I am sure you will also find something that resonates with you in it.

2.     Asake – Mr. Money With The Vibe

Nigerian music is here, and it’s here to stay. 27-year old singer-songwriter Asake first came onto the seen in 2018 releasing a series of singles, but this year, he has taken over the world with his debut album Mr. Money With The Vibe and it’s quite something.

Debuting at #66 on the Billboard US Album Chart, and produced entirely by his longtime collaborator Magicsticks, Asake is exceptional on his debut album Mr Money With The Vibe, which was released on September 8 via YBNL and EMPIRE, seven months after his debut EP named Ololade Asake featuring his breakthrough song “Omo Ope”.

Using fuji, a popular Yoruba music genre, as his foundation, Asake crafts his music around Amapiano styled production to create such energetic songs as “Sunga” and “Peace Be Unto You” that have firmly put him on the map. The music production excellence is definitely on showcase throughout this entire album.

His infectious songs are definitely ones you cannot help but dance to, especially “Terminator” and “Joha”, which are standout tracks on the album, as well as the aforementioned “Peace Be Unto You” and “Sungba”, the latter which also comes with a remix with Grammy Award winner and afrobeats icon Burna Boy that wraps up the album.

Asake is not afraid to show his versality switching up the tempo from song to song very quickly and smoothly. The smash hit album is predominantly sung in Nigerian pidgin English and Yoruba languages as it should be. He, like his fellow Nigerian artists on the world stage, are making no mistake in making sure their music is authentically Nigerian. They should be proud of this, as it is a sign of real patriotism but a sign of a true artist also

1.     Beyoncé – RENAISSANCE

Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter has peaked. Yes I said it. Beyoncé returned this year with a new album titled Renaissance after six long years since the release of her Lemonade album, and this is the best record of the year!

The album was teased by its lead single “Break My Soul”. This smash hit sees Beyonce sampling Robin S’ “Show Me Love”. “Break My Soul” is a barrier demolisher for mood activations, workout sessions, party starters, conversation ice breakers, and whatever else you want it to be. Queen Bey has added another powerful song to her catalog of statements.

I firmly agree that people weren’t grasping what Beyonce’s creative approach, with this song, to the album Renaissance is. Sadly, that’s disappointing. Seeing that the term ‘Renaissance’ basically means a transition from Middle Ages era to Modernity. How can people miss that?

Other highlights include the ferociously multilayered intro track “I’m That Girl”, where Mrs. Knowles-Carter is simply declaring that she’s been that girl. Her being that girl has been an innate quality since birth. No jewellery, money, men, status-quo can rebuke that fact. Don’t we know!

Another highlight “Alien Superstar” is a club banger. This song is giving me life. The automated voice phrasing, the thumping of the beat, and Beyonce affirming these words – this is Beyonce’s world. She is inviting us to this intergalactic dimension of hers in this song. She is the alien superstar. Now, alien is usually associated with being unique, uncommon, out-of-this-world. You get the image.

The Renaissance album is solely about Beyonce reminding the industry as a whole that she is able to move with the times. Right now, music is evolving at rapid pace. Veterans in the industry are being named “washed-up”, but Queen Bey firmly asserts herself with this album.

She has pushed herself creatively, and took a big risk with infusing house-elements, disco-funk, pop all rolled into one album with a title Renaissance. Only a cocky, confident, talented, bold, Virgo could pull that off, and in the fullness of time did.

Click HERE for a full list of our Top 50 Albums of 2022!

Words by Tereza Bittnerova, Ruby Adele, Melissa Nyk, Sinalo Bambeni, Abigale Du Plessis, Kim Nina and Zeze Maseko // List curated by Ayo Adepoju

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