dancing shoes

Africa: 10 best Amapiano and Afrobeats songs of 2022… (so far)

By Shingai Darangwa

Posted on August 5, 2022 09:56

 © Kamo Mphela, a dancer and singer performs Amapiano, a South African musical export that has crossed borders and cultural barriers, reaching as far as Japan, during a music concert in Pretoria, South Africa, July 22, 2022. REUTERS/Shafiek Tassiem
Kamo Mphela, a dancer and singer performs Amapiano, a South African musical export that has crossed borders and cultural barriers, reaching as far as Japan, during a music concert in Pretoria, South Africa, July 22, 2022. REUTERS/Shafiek Tassiem

It’s been a hugely eventful year for African music. Halfway into the year, we’ve already seen the globe’s biggest stars such as Ed Sheeran, Chris Brown, J Balvin, and Future work with our most talented Afrobeats stars, while amapiano has continued to grow its footprint globally. Here we look back at some of the best releases from both genres so far this year.

1. Konke and Musa Keys: ‘Kancane’

Musa Keys is fast becoming one of the most in-demand amapiano artists around. Not only has he been performing all around the world, but he also recently drew the attention of Lewis Hamilton last week when the F1 star shared a reel that featured last year’s massive single, Selema (Pop Po).

His most recent single, Kancane with vocalist Konke is primed to surpass Selema and become one of the biggest hits of the year.

2. Felo Le Tee: ‘Manca’ (ft. Toss)

Producer and DJ Felo Le Tee has the aura of a rap star. He’s flamboyant, he dresses like an ATL trapper, and he loves himself some good weed (as he made clear with his smash hit ‘Dipatje Tsa Felo’). On Manca, Felo calls on husky-voiced newcomer Toss to deliver the catchy vocals on here. Toss delivers one of the best performances of his fast-rising career on here.  The lingo, the vibe, the energy. It’s amapiano at its absolute best.

3. Kabza De Small: Eningi (ft. Mhaw Keys, Simmy and Njelic)

In typical amapiano style, ‘Eningi’ has been a mega-hit since way before amapiano pioneer Kabza De Small released it as part of his stellar new album, KOA II Pt. 1, thanks to a social media leak. The relatability of Njelic’s refrain throughout: “weSomandla ngiceli ungiphi mali eningi” (God please give me a lot of money), makes this feel like a worship song with a logdrum.

Afropop star Simmy’s haunting vocals elevate this into a truly ethereal listening experience before Kabza closes the song off with a mesmerising log drum progression.

4. Kamo Mphela: ‘Ghost’ (ft. Daliwonga and Felo Le Tee)

Kamo Mphela was in need of a hit single when she dropped ‘Ghost’. Sure, she was consistently touring and performing across the continent and Europe, but her fans had been starved of new music with the star not having released any music all year.

She duly delivered with ‘Ghost’, her most creative and inventive release to date. The flawless, ‘Thriller’-inspired video for the single, which was directed by Nape Phasha, adds to its overall appeal.

5. Daliwonga: ‘Abo Mvelo’ (ft. Mellow & Sleazy and MJ)

‘Abo Mvelo’ came in like a wrecking ball. By the time it was officially released, the teaser snippet which South African vocalist Daliwonga had shared on his social media was viral and it had already become a fixture in amapiano club DJs’ club sets. Mellow & Sleazy, the amapiano DJ duo that’s been on a roll all year, came through swinging with this intoxicating rhythm and a typically thumping log drum. Their recent hit ‘Chipi Ke Chipi‘ could easily have made this list too.


6. Rema: ‘Calm Down’

The speed with which Rema is churning out hit records is astounding. Since he exploded onto the scene in 2019, the 22-year-old Nigerian afrobeats star has consistently outdone himself with each subsequent release and quickly established himself as one of the most prominent artists on the continent.

Despite it only coming out a few months ago, ‘Calm Down’ has already exploded globally and become the biggest song of his budding career. It’s an infectious record that sees Rema serenading his love interest with those witty lines of his. “Girl you sweet like Fanta,” he croons throughout. Only Rema.

7. Burna Boy: ‘Jagele’

While Burna Boy’s Last Last continues to blaze a trail across the world, it’s the groovy, mid-tempo Jagele that’s the most impressive record on his new album, Love, Damini.

In typical Burna style, he seems to invent his own lingo just for the vibe and it all blends together so smoothly on this Kel-P-produced gem. It’s a song that takes after the tropical sounds of 2019’s brilliant African Giant, his most cohesive album to date.

8. Lojay and Sarz: Monalisa Remix (ft. Chris Brown)

Monalisa was a hit long before global pop star Chris Brown jumped on its remix in May. But Brown, who has shown on recent afrobeats features alongside Rema and Davido that his versatility knows no bounds, elevated the song and gave it a global appeal. It feels organic and right. The perfect addition to what was already a flawless song.

9. Omah Lay: ‘Never Forget’

Omah Lay’s recently released debut album, Boy Alone is a mixed bag. It’s moody, it’s reflective and it’s pulsing with his uniquely contemplative brand of afro-fusion. But by the time you get a few songs in, it starts to sound a little monotonous.

Then ‘Never Forget; hits and the heat turn up a notch. It’s unlike any other song on the album and it’s a breath of fresh air to hear the 24-year-old Nigerian star over an uptempo and lively beat. More of this please, Omah.

10. Rema: ‘Soundgasm’

Rama’s album, Rave and Roses, is arguably the most cohesive project of the year so far, so it should come as no surprise that two songs from the album make it onto here. ‘Soundgasm’, which fittingly first came out alongside ‘Calm Down’ as a precursor to the album a month before it dropped, sees Rema playfully and sensually teasing his lover as he whispers sweet nothings into her ear.

It’s a bouncy dance record that makes you want to hit the Caribbean and enjoy a couple of glasses of rum on the beach.

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