2022 has been a year full of great music, whatever your genre of choice. Deciding the best of the best is always hard, but between myself and the other writers we have come up with our favourite singles and albums of this year. So, let us get into the list and see what you need to listen to again or finally delve into before the year comes to an end.
Bethan Eyre (Journalist)
Album: Loyle Carner-hugo
This artfully constructed record from Croydon’s very own Rap wonder finds Loyle Carner as sincere as ever. Released on the 21st of October via EMI Records, ‘hugo‘ is an authentic, spoken illustration of Ben’s colourful journey in life to this point. Covering a vast range of social and political commentary, with a
keen focus on race, identity, and hate, Loyle holds a microscope up to society. He demands us to reflect and question it in all its madness and obscurity. The running motif of fatherhood on the album sees him navigating his relationship with his son. This is done whilst simultaneously working through his troubled relationship with his own father. It is both hard-hitting and perceptive.
From track-to-track Loyle Carner narrates a cohesive, immersive story in his spoken word-like rap style,
creating a project fuelled by reflective poetry. ‘Hate’, ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘Georgetown’- the pre-released singles from the record, had set up the album for immediate success, in all their immense intensity and conviction. From the moment of these releases, it was clear the record was going to be something special.
Song: Wet Leg-Angelica
In this post-punk come eccentric indie concoction, Rhian Teasdale, and Hester Chambers, of 2022 sensation, Wet Leg, achieve the perfect blend of comedic, bold, and exhilarating music to bang your head to with ‘Angelica’. The song comes from the Isle of Wight duo’s self-titled debut album, released in early
April. ‘Angelica’ features everything you could possibly want from a modern, dynamic female duo. The track is full of spirit, angsty guitar, and attitude, and all tied up with playful synth sounds. Following the night of an alluring woman named ‘Angelica’, the song takes place at a party. The party brings out that all-too-familiar feeling of social apprehension. In this scenario, you’ve tried convincing yourself that you’ll have a good time when really all you want to do is go home. Despite the buoyant beat and claim of “good times, all the time” there’s more to the track than meets the eye, in all its witty cynicism.
Danielle Akparanta (Presenter/Journalist)
Album: Stormzy-This Is What I Mean
Since Stormzy came to the scene he has shown a lot of growth in his career. He got his points across starting with songs like ‘Big For Your Boots.‘ He then opened doors to a lighter and softer sound such as on ‘Blinded By Your Grace.’ This album displays his maturity as a man through experiences encountering heartbreak, inner work, and vulnerability. The song on this project that caught my attention was ‘Hide & Seek.’ Stormzy sings of reuniting back with a significant other with the smoothest tempo to compliment him. Overall, Michael Omari continues to show us, he is a man of many talents.
K-Trap is a known drill artist in the scene who is recognised as someone who never fails to leave his mark. An example of this trait is ‘Warm,’ which he first released on May 13th, 2021. Since then it has resurfaced on the Internet through apps such as TikTok due to a video sing-along from influencer/artist Yung Filly. His video went viral helped ‘Warm‘ become a success. The track has to date over 14 million plays on Spotify. K-Trap decided to make a remix in 2022 including the legend that is Skepta. This resulted in further success and the track entering the U.K. top 20. We hope to see more of this from K-Trap in 2023, continuing on from a top-notch 2022.
Aaliyah Facey (Journalist/Events Assistant)
Album: WSTRN-WSTRN Season 3
My album of 2022 has to go to the latest release by the West London native trio WSTRN. Even though the group dropped ‘WSTRN Season 3‘ just after summer, from start to finish all 15 tracks gave listeners a variety of vibes. This is balanced with influences of reggae, hip-hop, and R&B throughout. I’ve definitely played all the tracks at full blast. From the start of the album with songs like ‘Wonder Woman,’ the minute the reggae beat kicked in you were transported back to the sun. You then had the contrast with ‘Armagidion’ featuring Sai So which is more hip-hop, but all the songs flowed together well on the project.
Louis, Haile, and Akelle continued to demonstrate their musicality and were joined by some great features from artists such as Skillibeng, Pa Salieu, Lila Ikè and more. The highlight of the album for me had to be ‘So Blessed’ which brings the project to a close and for me sums up the energy for 2022. After the last couple of years everyone has been through, we’ve been able to still achieve things and feel grateful for them, which is something to feel blessed about.
Song: Kendrick Lamar-United In Grief
After anticipating his album release, ‘United in Grief’ is the best opening song to an LP that I’ve heard in a while. The almost choir-like start “I hope you find some peace of mind,” then the slow build-up of the beat, and finally Kendrick Lamar drops his bars which takes the listener through the emotions of grief. This is complimented well by the hard hip-hop beat, that is subtly matched with the piano. This song alone demonstrates that Kendrick hasn’t lost his flow. It also gave fans an essence of what they could expect from the rest of this album.
Thomas Atkinson (Junior Editor/Journalist)
Album: Kojey Radical-Reason to Smile
Kojey Radical has always been one of the hidden gems in the U.K. scene. After the release of this record, he is getting the recognition he deserves. His first album release in 3 years was certainly worth the wait. It brought forth an extensive guest list that included Shaé Universe, Kelis, Knucks, Ego Ella May, and Shakka. This LP is a journey into the mind of Kojey Radical documenting being a father, his artistry, and bringing together the black community. The production here is also astounding whether Swindle’s James Brown-inspired ‘Payback‘ or the jazzy-piano sounds of ‘Gangsta‘ from the same man alongside KZ, Jay Weathers, and Ed Thomas. This was truly a phenomenal record that got the Mercury Prize nomination it deserved and will go down as a U.K. classic.
Song: Kendrick Lamar FT Beth Gibbons-Mother I Sober
Kendrick Lamar delivered another great project in 2022 and picking the best track was always going to be difficult. But, no track hit me harder than ‘Mother I Sober.’ The emotional and hard-hitting nature of this song is a difficult listen, but shows Kendrick at his most open, while also touching on an topic that needs to be discussed more. The emotion and heartbreak you feel while listening to this track can be overwhelming, but that is a testament to the artist. The haunting vocals of Portishead singer Beth Gibbons are also used appropriately. Kendrick Lamar has always been someone to talk about taboo issues, with ‘Mother I Sober‘ being one of the most important statements in his career.