2022 is probably the biggest year for Afrobeats so far. Indeed, both fans and artists will agree that it was a memorable year that served up big stories and big money, of course, from January to December. Brush aside the fact that there’s no standard way or metric to measure its growth, but Afrobeats grew way more than the dollar did in 2022. Yes! While the dollar annoyingly reached an all-time high against the Naira in 2022 but started declining at some point, our beloved Afrobeats continued outdoing itself, reaching remarkable new heights as the year flew by.
Thanks to the musicians that put in the work and to a global army of followers; it will not be long before the genre gets its own stand at the Grammys. Although specific plans on how the award process will pan out remains to be worked out by the board, the feeling that we’re getting closer is undeniably palpable.
As people, Afrobeats artists and fans will always be involved in stories; many—celebratory, others—messy and controversial. However, how much those stories travel through time, are often determined by the magnitude of the artist(s) involved, the theme, and the timing of their occurrences.
Entering into 2022, YBNL’s new signee Asake’s name was on everyone’s lips. When his 5-track EP eventually dropped in February, we knew there was a new hitmaker in town. He’d probably win Fans’ Artist of The Year if there ever was such a poll. The most controversial and grotesque story of February 2022 was Oxlade’s sex tape scandal. Whether it was intentional or not, it seemed to not stop the singer frim having a successful year.
On April 3, Wizkid was snubbed at the Grammys. He was beaten to the Best Global Album Music award (Made In Lagos: Deluxe Edition) by who else but Angelique Kidjo. His FC stormed Twitter to table their discontent; it infamously made the headlines throughout that period.
In same April, Burna Boy made history, performing at a sold-out Zigo Dome in Amsterdam; the first time the iconic arena had been sold out by an African musician. About two weeks later, on 28 April, the ‘Last Last’ singer took the party to New York’s Madison Square Garden, again, making history on his way to announcing his 6th full album ‘Love, Damini.’
One of the biggest stories of May 2022 was arguably Stefflon Don’s Burna Boy diss song bluff. After setting the stage for what fans were so adamant was a clap back to her ex’s (Burna Boy) hit single ‘Last Last,’ the Jamaican-born rapper proved nothing pays more than minding one’s business.
In same May, Future released ‘Wait For U’ featuring Drake, on which he sampled Tems’ 2020 song ‘Higher.’ Surely, you didn’t forget M.I Abaga vs Joey Akan brawl on Twitter, right? It also happened in May.
You lose more as you win more. In June 2022, Burna Boy returned to the top of tabloids, but for the wrong reasons this time; Burna was accused of assaulting a group of club-goers in Victoria Island, Lagos. Police opened investigation into the case, but till date we can’t say for sure if Burna was involved or not.
Remember the All Progressive’s Congress (APC) presidential primaries in June? Yes, it proved to be an Afrobeat fiesta. From Goya Menor’s ‘You Want to Bamba’ to Kizz Daniel’s ‘Buga’ and more keeping the ruling party entertained, it was hard to digest there was a serious political rally going on, with the seat of the President at stake.
In July 2022, Ruger declared himself a better singer and hitmaker than BNXN fka Buju, forcing several other artists to get involved in the debate, notably Omah Lay and Victony who appeared to have a bone to pick with each other. The feud between Ruger and BNXN continues till date.
August had many stories, but remember Asake’s iconic golden grill in the music video for Fireboy DML’s ‘Bandana‘? That was August 2022 as well as Kizz Daniel’s infamous arrest in Tanzania and Rema’s confirmation of ‘Calm Down Remix’ with American pop icon Selena Gomez.
Davido made the headlines when he adorned the runway for sports apparel giant Puma at the New York Fashion Week in September.
The other major story from September 2022, was: Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. confirming that the Grammys were considering adding an award category for Afrobeats.
In October 2022, a video of Tiwa Savage having sex surfaced the internet, but it wasn’t the only big story of the month; Davido losing his only son Ifeanyi Adeleke on October 31 rippled through the internet. It ultimately changed the mega star’s schedule for the rest of the year as the internet paused to condole with him and Chioma. We cannot forget that Blaqbonez made his directorial debut with the music video for his hit single ‘Back in Uni,’ a creative masterclass where he recreated several Afrobeats moments.
In November, Wizkid dominated the headlines, drawing both praise and criticism from netizens. Early in the month, Apple Music Live added his exclusive London concert to the platform, to the delight of the FC, most of whom couldn’t access show when it took place in September. He also won the maiden Favourite Afrobeats Artist at the American Music Awards. Burna Boy also performed at the show, becoming the first Nigerian to do so. However, when his interview with 10+ magazine where he said rap music is boring was published, he made more foes than fans.
In December, concerts and celebrity meetups dominated Afrobeats. And with the World Cup in full swing, football and Lionel Messi dominated memories. Kizz Daniel performed at the World Cup, as did Davido, who made his first concert appearance since the demise of his son in October. While Kizz performed mid-way through the tournament, Davido performed during the closing ceremony.
That wraps up our Afrobeats 2022 In Review: The Stories That Made 2022 Memorable. Which memories stand out for you and which ones do you think should have made the cut?