The Best East African Songs of 2022

The Best East African Songs of 2022

Featuring Diamond Platnumz, Sauti Sol, Addis Legesse, Nandy, Eddy Kenzo, and many more.

2022 was a groundbreaking year for East African music. We saw many newcomers make their mark and break through the charts, and some OGs try things experimenting with their sounds, with it paying off in the end.

This year we saw the newer generation of East African artists truly separate themselves from their newbie status and become respectable and competitive brands in the region. Artists like Nikita Kering have received local and international recognition culminating in awards, lucrative endorsements and record deals. With the organic growth of their fanbase , local drill duo Buruklyn Boyz arguably were the biggest breakout acts from Kenya. This feat culminated in them even being the face of Spotify Africa’s RADR Africa playlist.

Popular band Sauti Sol focused on their individual solo projects this year from Bien, Savara, Fancy Fingers and Chimano which was refreshing for long time fans of the group. In Tanzania, Diamond Platnumnz continued to reign with his Wasafi franchise and his debut EP, First Of All, which included hits like “Melody” featuring Nigerian singer Jaywillz and “Mtasubiri” featuring his Wasafi bongo princess Zuchu.

In Ethiopia we got to see some exciting new stars with one example being Addis Leggesse who made waves with his single “Enja,” an outstanding Amharic Ethio-Jazz rendition that made heads turn even internationally. Uganda saw a lot of evolution in its music scene, with R&B and hiphop being embraced a bit more besides the usual dancehall that dominates the charts. Hot newcomers like Rickman Rick and Joshua Baraka created massive noise that could not be ignored.

In more unfortunate news, East Africans mourned the loss of one of Rwanda’s most exciting young stars Yvan Buravan who died at the age of 27 while undergoing treatment in India. He sang many memorable and popular hits including “Oya” and “Malaika.” His loss was overwhelming for the Rwandese music community and East Africa as a whole, but his music will forever live on.

In conclusion, this was an evolutionary year for the East in music with a lot of growth in different sectors of the music business. Here are our top picks for the Best East African songs of 2022 in no particular order.

Savara “Sababisha”

Sauti Sol member Savara released his self-produced debut solo album, Savage Level. It is an album that cuts across themes including love, awakening, consciousness, anxiety, growth, and excellence at all costs. Known as The Vibe Curator, Savara has left an imprint of who he is in every song on the album, documenting how his style continues to evolve. The project showcased Savara’s versatility and uniqueness as a solo star with “Sababisha” being a well-liked single from the album.

Diamond Platnumz "Fine"

Diamond Platnumz released his EP, First Of All, in January. A special cut from the EP is the track “Fine,” an afropop banger praising a woman’s beauty. The video was shot in Lagos by TG Omori. This EP also features collaborations with artists such as Adekunle Gold, Focalistic, Mbosso and Jaywillz as well as Pabi Cooper and Costa Titch. This project continued to solidify Diamond’s status as East Africa’s biggest music powerhouse.

MAUIMØON and La Soulchyld "Sweeta"

MAUIMØON is a singer and songwriter transforming the sound of the alternative R&B scene in East Africa. Of Ugandan and Rwandese descent, his roots started off in Souncloud but has quickly gained notoriety on Spotify and Apple Music with his songs “Sweeta” and “Leaving Summer.” His experimentation with afro-inspired percussions and electro-soul based synths have made him one of the freshest finds from the East this year.

Addis Legesse "Enja - አዲስ ለገሰ - እንጃ"

One of the most memorable singles from Ethiopia this year came from breakout act Addis Legesse with “Enja." The track is a sultry Amharic Ethio-jazz performance with a 70s style music video. The video garnered over 3.3 million views in less than five months and was largely praised for its quality treatment, production, and robust arrangement & melodies. Definitely a golden moment for this style of music.

Buruklyn Boyz "Pree"

Exciting Nairobi-based drill duo Burukyln Boyz released their highly-anticipated debut album East Mpaka London this year. The album features many emerging acts in the Nairobi scene such as Silverstone Barz and Big Yasa. This release really puts the duo on the map the major breakout acts from Kenya this year, even earning the cover of Spotify’s RADR Africa playlist.

Zuchu "Mwambieni"

Tanzanian bongo princess Zuchu dropped her first single of the year “Mwambieni.” The track produced by Mr Lg, has a class bongo feel taking her back to her roots. Her career has skyrocketed since being introduced by Diamond Platnumz as the newest member of WCB Wasafi and we cannot wait for her forthcoming new album in the new year.

NJERI “Love”

Rising Kenyan R&B songstress NJERI released her debut project ‘D.R.U.G.S’ which earned her the cover of Spotify Africa’s Fresh Finds Africa playlist. The project is the story of a journey from toxic love to healthy love. It takes you through the motions of the bad and the good, the happy and the sad, reminiscing the past but also learning to love oneself and live in the moment. With this debut she positioned herself as one of the most exciting new acts to watch from Nairobi in 2023.

Khaligraph Jones "Hiroshima" ft. Dax

The 17-track project Invisible Currency is an engrossing exploration of Khaligraph Jones’ sonic evolution, personal growth and artistic development drawn from a long career. The project was released alongside the "Hiroshima" music video featuring American rapper Dax. "Hiroshima" is a powerful and gritty collaboration shot between arid Kenya and the countryside of the US.

Coco Em "Land (Black) First" ft. Sisian & Kasiva

Nairobi-based DJ and producer Coco Em released her debut EP Kilumi this year. Its lead single “Land {Black) First” featuring Sisian and Kasiva, is a potent lyrical statement of protest against structures of power and supremacy. Combining spoken word, droning bass and percussion that seems to cut and twist through the air, it hums with heat, energy and tension.

Bien "Inauma"

Kenyan pop star recording artist Bien, a member of Sauti Sol, released the fresh single “Inauma," a Swahili word that translates to “it hurts.” The song offered commentary on the current political climate. In Biens words, “Those who are supposed to work for us have been working against us for the longest time. We shall no longer sit on the sidelines and watch them ruin our country. A lot of young people are fed up and want to see change in the politics, systems and governance of the country." This was one of the biggest hit songs in Kenya this year and remains on the top charts until now.

Nandy X Oxlade "Napona"

Tanzania’s bongo flava princess Nandy teamed up with one of Nigeria’s fastest rising stars and “KU LO SA” hitmaker Oxlade this year for an afrobeats-inspired single titled “Napona.” Nandy tries out a more pop-R&B sound with this track which talks about how her partner’s love literally “heals” her. Oxlade’s vocals compliment her delivery beautifully in this show-stopping East to West collaboration.

Nikita Kering' "On Yah"

Kenyan hitmaking songstress Nikita Kering made waves with her single “On Yah." The song is part of her chart-topping album dubbed The Other Side. The album is a continuation of her 7-track EP, A Side of Me, released in 2021 and included bangers such as “Never Let You Go,” “Better Than Ever,” and “Tragedy.” The multiple award winning singer positioned herself this year as a pop star in the making and a force to be reckoned with in 2023, locally and internationally.

Chris Kaiga "Kwa Ceiling"

Chris Kaiga was one of Kenya’s breakout acts in 2021 and he followed up this hype with his debut album, The Adventures of Chris Kaiga, which dropped in Feburary this year. One of the most infectious tracks from the album titled “Kwa Ceiling” and Chris kept up his usual style of catchy uptempo rap. The album features top Kenyan artists such as Scar Mkadinali, Nyashinski, Fena Gitu and Dai.

Maandy "Mmhh Mmhh"

Kenyan act Maandy provided yet another bangin’ gengetone single “Mmhh Mmhh” a couple months back. The rap queen has been a fan favorite since her single “Shash na Lipgloss” and has not disappointed ever since. This new single is a party anthem for the girls inspiring confidence and sexual liberation.

Eddy Kenzo & Rickman Manrick "Enjoyment"

Rising Ugandan rapper Rickman Manrick teamed up with Ugandan heavyweight popstar Eddy Kenzo earlier in the year to release the fun-filled single “Enjoyment.” The song garnered lots of streams and views on Youtube and set him apart as a huge talent to watch from Uganda. He released a string of infectious singles throughout the year and it will be exciting to watch how his career unfolds in the new year.

Sheebah & King Saha "Muwomya"

Ugandan top female artist and award-winning singer Sheebah Karungi shared an R&B single titled "Muwomya" featuring Kings Love Entertainment talent King Saha who contributed to the song with soulful vocals. The track is about the love, care and affection that is shared in a relationship between two passionate lovers.

Matata "Oversized T Shirt" ft. Sauti Sol

Kenyan music groups Matata and Sauti Sol teamed up to release “Oversized T Shirt” a flirty pop single that has already garnered over one million views on Youtube in less than a month. This track is part of Matata’s debut album, Super Morio, The single has done incredibly well for the five-man band and hopefully their popularity continues to grow in the new year.

Azawi "Feeling" ft. DJ Neptune

Ugandan popstar Azawi dominated 2021 with her African Music album which had hits like “Slow Dancing” and “My Year.” She returned in 2022 with the deluxe version of the project which includes an afrobeat-inspired single featuring heavyweight Nigerian DJ Neptune. The song has taken over the airwaves lengthening the singer’s current dominant streak in the Ugandan music scene.

Lafrik “Ndakhuyanza”

Rising Kenyan band Lafrik Music released “Ndakhuyanza” which translates to "I Love You,” a single from their debut album Love Freaks. The song's percussive tempo, the signature African thumb piano and the choral arrangements set the mood while the band embodies Zilizopendwa, creating a nostalgic feeling reminiscent to the 70s East African songs.