Our Songs of 2022 – Part 3 of 4

We’ve officially passed the halfway mark of Our Songs of 2022 countdown, having covered 52 of Next Gen Greats’ 100 songs within Part 1 and Part 2. Thus far we’ve musically travelled from Cape Town to Timbuktu with our music selections in what has been our most sonically diverse list of songs that we’ve done. I mean from established mainstream acts to underground entrants and indie mainstays, we’ve ventured into Hip-Hop, Rock-n-Roll, Alté, Jazz, Folk, Amapiano, Dance, R&B, Psychedelic, Pop and we’ve still got so many more hidden gems to uncover in our final 48. Welcome to Part 3, the penultimate choices before we announce our Top 22 of 2022. If history is anything to go by the penultimate list is usually the most reflective of where our core musical tastes have been within the past year. These are often the songs that just hit the spot from first listen and the ones I ran to the most to vibe out to and get lost in. It’s the list that has historically held a majority of our most played songs of the year if Spotify’s Wrapped is anything to go by. So without further ado, I hope you enjoy Our Songs of 2022 Part 3!

Usual Disclaimers: 1) For the purposes of this series we’ve kept the choices to one selection per artist in a leading role with the exception of work that’s credited in a group/collaborative body of work. We stress that these are personal favorites and not necessarily what we think are the most representative songs of the year. If an artist dropped both solo work and group/collaborative work in the same time span, we’ve counted each effort as separate, ie this consideration would apply to acts like Maglera Doe Boy & Monelle who both dropped solo music as well as collaborative tapes within the calendar year. 2) Only works that were released between December 1 2021 – November 25th 2022 were considered.

Group 3 [Listed alphabetically, not in ranking]

All My Days – Killertunes featuring Suté Iwar [produced by Killertunes]

Kicking off our penultimate list is a whine-wasting banger from Nigerian mavericks Killertunes and Suté Iwar, All My Days. Conceptually the song finds a dumbstruck Suté Iwar mesmerised by a voluptuous island girl he’s just met; Iwar is so taken that he exclaims  “In all my days I’ve never seen a girlie with this type of waist.” All My Days has had me as mesmerized as Iwar is with this woman. Killertunes lives up to his name with this killer production that is intoxicatingly sensual. All My Days allures from the first second. With its incredibly warm chords and feel-good groove, the song is unrelenting with its sonic seduction and continues to build on it as the song intensifies. Killertunes pulls from an orchestra of instruments, continuously introducing new elements that build on the giddiness of the song and giving it a depth of colour without overstuffing the groove. Suté Iwar provides a sensational performance overflowing with engaging ad-libs and rosy harmonies that overwhelm you with how infatuated he is. The result is this highly addictive jam that inebriates you with its feeling. Killertunes & Suté Iwar are both incredibly savvy with how they inject emotion into their music, and that skill is on great display here. All My Days has been on high rotation from the moment I heard it and I’m not seeing the dizzying repeats ending anytime soon.

Amagents – Samthing Soweto [produced by Christer]

Samthing Soweto really knows how to pull you into an intimate space, the character of his voice really thrives in moments where he’s actively playing within that quality. Our next pick finds this crooner in bloom with the cautionary lullaby to his daughter that is Amagents. Amagents is a tender song that finds Samthing Soweto trying to warn his daughter about the dangers of South African men using his knowledge of their antics. Sonically, the production is a reminiscent piece of Afropop that feels like it was baked in love. The textures from the acoustic guitar, the warm chord progressions and how the production swells deep within the verses all feel very homely and heartfelt. It provides this soundscape that feels like you’re in the living room with Soweto as he makes his plea. Amagents is sonically rich from instrumentation to vocal production, with Soweto crafting incredibly evocative harmonies and backgrounds. There are multiple conversations that can be had about how futile songs like this can feel without wider intervention on what governs and allows these societal worries to be as pervasive as they are but I don’t think it takes anything away from the genuine worries a lone father has for his daughter. Amagents is heartfelt Afropop from one of South Africa’s most affecting crooners. It’s earnest storytelling that tugs at your heartstrings.

Read more Samthing Soweto related content here and Christer here.

At War – Leon John featuring Khanyi [produced by Leon John]

Leon John and Khanyi came to sing down in this wounded ballad of a duet. Love has been lost, guards are up and contempt remains rife following a major fight that deeply fractured their relationship 2 years prior. Backed by a pair of guitars, each singer paints their perspective of the cold war that finds both parties longing for each other’s presence with neither wanting to extend an olive branch or raise the metaphoric white flag; for John it’s clear that the wounds still ring fresh. With no background vocals for support, At War finds John and Khanyi pouring their souls into each line and musical riff in this vocal showcase of a song. Their vocals are deep wells of emotion that despite being at war create dizzying harmony within their distress. John recoils with vivid bluntness as Khanyi pierces with resounding grief; if you’re a fan of flat-footed soul singing you’ll find a healthy helping of it within this ballad. At War is the tender, pained expression of yearning to see through a door that you’re not ready to open and may truly never be. It’s raw and evocative storytelling from skillful musicians who know how to milk the drama. Leon John’s License to Feel is full of such imaginatively raw storytelling so if this song resonates with you I implore you to check his full body of work.

Bad 4 U – Phiwo featuring Adrienne Foo [produced by DoouShii]

I love a good kiss off anthem and our next pick just might be my personal favourite of the year, Bad 4 U. Phiwo & Adrienne Foo join forces yet again for this jam that finds them calling it quits with their partners. The song is a vibe. Bad 4 U finds both Phiwo and Foo tapping into their inner-petty and they make it thoroughly entertaining. These women are done, the door is closed and they’re really just here to entertain themselves with their partners’ parting words. Backed by a relaxed DoouShii groove, Adrienne Foo kicks off the song by listing off some grievances in her verse before perfectly encapsulating the song’s energy in the bridge that delivers the songs title: “I’m not trying to say too much to you, how your feeling that’s too bad for you, I’m just trying to let you know we’re through…” Bad 4 U carries Phiwo’s most engaging chorus thus far; Foo and Phiwo are all sass as they flippantly sing: “Say what you really wanna say my baby, last night you said I’m crazy…”. It’s a catchy chorus that is great fun to sing along too before Phiwo takes the reins to properly deliver her own kiss off. Bad 4 U is attitude-laden fun from a group of collaborators who have a history of making good music together. This is the second consecutive year that the chemistry between Phiwo, Foo and DoouShii has graced our ears and it’s a pretty satisfying sequel. Still relatively new, Bad 4 U is a song that can keep you company this summer for the freeing moments where you want to be spicy.

Read more Phiwo related content here, Adrienne Foo here and DoouShii here.

Listen to Phiwo’s All That Yazz Interview here, and her feature here.

Fun Fact: For the third year in a row, DoouShii is tied for the producer with the most production credits on our 2022 list. This year he shares the honors with MashBeatz and Shooterkhumz who are all credited as producers on 3 songs each.

Catalogue – Tron Pyre [produced by Feziekk]

Tron Pyre is an artist whose music has often carried a starry appeal that has been saturated with colour even when he’s singing about how monochrome life is. His latest project, aptly titled It’s Not A Mistake, sees his persona making a stark shift into smoky darkness, with Catalogue being the statement piece used to announce his persona’s reinvention. Catalogue introduces a more jagged, rugged and detached Rono in place of the once starry-eyed balladeer. The song’s opening line alone serves enough of a mission statement of his agenda as the low-toned crooner announces: “She like: ‘We don’t even cut no more…’ Yeah, ‘Rono you don’t give a f*ck no more!’” Feziekk lays down a potently sinuous production that Pyre uses to brag about his exploits as he paints a new portrait of where he’s persona at. Catalogue is a calculated shift within his own catalogue that finds him coming out bolder, looser and with more freedom to entertain future sonic adventures. Catalogue is a stark and beefy vibe that Tron Pyre wears well. It’s that toxic shade of cool you can use to pump yourself up for the streets and sheets.

Read more Tron Pyre related content here and Feziekk here.

Listen to Tron Pyre’s All That Yazz interview here and Feziekk’s here.

Contemplations pt. 2 – Novl. [produced by Lucas Quinn]

Novl. is one of the 2022 hip-hop discoveries that captivated me the most. There’s a knowing cheek I was drawn to in seeing a project titled Hold My Beer, Let Me Rap. It’s a daring request that the rapper instantaneously rewards with a frenetic opener that is existentially anxious, Contemplations Pt. 2. Contemplations Pt. 2 acquaints us with Novl’s restless state of mind as he questions himself and God on his purpose in life, feeling that it may not be within rap. It’s an introspective concept that Novl. explores quite vividly. Contemplations Pt. 2 isn’t just him storytelling, it’s a loud cry for a stage to perform; you hear it in how he’s introduced as a broken prophet to the jazz club passages that follow thereafter. This man is dying for an audience to hear him, questioning if he’s not worthy of holding attention then what exactly is he worthy of? Contemplations Pt. 2 is a captivating rush of anxiety from it’s introspective beat that really give a canvas for his thoughts to stew to the engaging vocal production that adds great colour to the restless existentialism he’s feeling. The track also carries a strong hook that I can’t help but sing along to which is suffice to say this is a well-crafted and captivating rap song. It has found me momentarily holding Novl’s beer, so if you’re compelled, grab a chair and hear him rap.

Deliver Us – ZuluMecca featuring lordkez [produced by Jaden May]

“We sing and hum till the kingdom come; screaming, ‘He is risen!’, but that sh*t don’t make you spiritual…” Our next pick keeps us within religiously tied hip-hop with ZuluMecca’s Deliver Us. lordkez opens the song with an interpolation of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough that reads “Ain’t no mountain too tall for me to climb, ain’t no river too long for me to dive right in.” It’s a fitting opening to a song that finds ZuluMecca questioning the lens with which people interpret and use religion to govern their lives and that of others. “If man made God in his image, well that’s your witness now. A man made God with the feelings that we give him. Sh*t is just ridiculous!” Deliver Us finds ZuluMecca wanting to be delivered from the self-imposed judgements people inflict on others in the name of religion. ZuluMecca is scathing in her critique of religious judgement as someone who views themselves as spiritual and is currently seeking their own actualization. Deliver Us is a bold statement rich with lyricism from an increasingly singular rapper that doesn’t want to be contained, and if Wept. is anything to go by I don’t think they can.

Egoli – Pabi Cooper featuring Murumba Pitch, Sfarzo Rtee & Yumbs [produced by Yumbs]

Pabi Cooper has had a really strong year with the release of her debut album, Cooperville. Our pick is the meditative deep cut that focuses on the iconic city of gold, Egoli. Johannesburg has long been seen as the primary Mecca for hustlers and financial success seekers, Egoli is an experience that captures and builds on the spirituality of this lore. It finds Pabi Cooper and Murumba Pitch preparing to grab their moment and make the most of it within the bustling city. Cooper and Murumba Pitch’s Maeywon SA sound great together. There’s an interesting vocal contrast between Cooper’s clear and pure tone against Maeywon’s gravelly baritone that is satisfying to hear, especially when he’s riffing over Cooper’s calling of the city. Egoli is aspirational and groovy amapiano for the hustle and bustle. Great production, straight-forward storytelling, beautiful music.

Read more Yumbs related content here.

God’s Incense – Shooterkhumz featuring Priddy Ugly and ZuluMecca [produced by Shooterkhumz and Herc Cut The Lights]

Priddy Ugly and ZuluMecca are poetic beings with godly auras that came to flex their prowess in Shooterkhumz’s God’s Incense. Backed by two spectral beats stitched together with no hook, ZuluMecca and Priddy Ugly trade verses that find them building their artistic myth whilst simultaneously demystifying rouses they’ve seen their peers try and adopt in their pursuit of making it. As ZuluMecca puts it: “The only battle I imagine I might have is with my past because damn it, half of these dancing lancers don’t hold a candle. Quote me on that one, it’s rap but I’m not the only actor, it’s only banter…” And that’s exactly what God’s Incense is, eloquent banter between two rappers riffing on the politics of their industry whilst beefing themselves up. God’s Incense is riddled with clever wordplay and engaging storytelling from three of Stay Low’s prime exports, it’s a great song to just hear rapper’s rap.

Read more Shooterkhumz related content here, Priddy Ugly here and Herc Cut The Lights here.

Grateful – ThandoNje [produced by Saul Madiope]

Our next pick is a song of serenity for your Sunday and meditative moods. It’s becoming apparent to me that I am a transfixed mess whenever ThandoNje decides to imbue gospel into her brand of neo-soul. It’s what got me in 2020 with the joyfully melancholic Kenny’s Interlude and it’s what has me again with Grateful “Amazing”. Grateful “Amazing” is an act of serenity. ThandoNje paints the picture of a beautiful morning that has her feeling blessed and spiritually seen as she beckons you to join her in communicating to that higher power. ThandoNje is only present for the first half of the song as the second half finds the production opening itself up to more instrumental solos from bass guitars to woodwinds. Saul Madiope’s production is meditatively beautiful. It pulls you into its stillness, leaving space for you to be pensive as you immerse yourself within its delicate instrumentation. Grateful “Amazing” is incredibly soulful and evocative. It’s a song that wraps me in my feelings whenever I choose to rest on it. This is how ThandoNje chose to kick off her exquisitely introspective album, Stillness, and it’s an enduring experience I keep returning to.

Read more ThandoNje related content here, Saul Madiope here.

Listen to ThandoNje’s All That Yazz interview here, Saul Madiope’s here.

Hata – Zimbini featuring BuhleBendalo [produced by Elvis Sibeko & Joshua Riley]

Our next pick is one of the most spiritually energising songs I’ve heard in the last year. This song is folk music crafted so theatrically that it’s begging to be used in turbulent film sequences of uncomfortable growth. Hata is a propulsive force of energy that immediately pulls you into its spiritual orbit. The song begins with an ominous energy as you hear restless guitar strumming being punctured by bold percussion. The “tshu tshu” calls keep you within this anxious energy until the “Yhoooo! Hata… Hata…” chants compound that energy with a haggard disposition. Zimbini and Buhlebendalo electrify in Hata with performances that stir the soul. The song finds them assuring their mothers before heading out on a tumultuous journey where life will throw all of the elements at them. Hata is a spiritual experience. The fiery instrumentation, transcendent vocal production and passionate storytelling keeps you company as life lights a fire under you. It has this anxious resiliency that turns more steely as the song builds to one of the most climactic bridges I’ve heard this year. Hata is a thrilling experience unlike anything else on this playlist. A satisfying release for those who like theatrically African music storytelling.

Healer Ntliziyo Yam – Gaba Cannal & George Lesley featuring Russell Zuma [produced by Gaba Cannal & George Lesley]

Our next pick is a soulful piece of amapiano that had some of us crying in the club in 2022, Healer Ntliziyo Yam. Healer Ntliziyo Yam finds Russell Zuma begging for forgiveness and reconciliation with his love in this serenade of a song. Gaba Cannal and George Lesley’s production is a warm and soulful groove that finely brews its seduction as it makes a grand gesture out of Russell Zuma’s plea. Healer Ntliziyo Yam smoothly builds its moments of yearn as Zuma vocally milks each peak for all that it’s worth. It’s subtle, smooth and soulful dance music that gets more mesmerising with every listen. It’s a simmering listen that has only endured and grown on me as time it has gone by. One of my favourite local radio hits of the year.

Heavy – Amy Lilley featuring Moonga K. [produced by Greg Abrahams]

“Statues in my image never made for me…”  Amy Lilley released one of my favourite South African pop albums of 2022 with Petrichor. Whilst other personal favourites like Miles and One More Night capture the re-energizing essence that the concept of Petrichor invokes, our pick feels like the crushing introspection of a thunderous rain;. Amy Lilley recruits Moonga K. for this solemn ballad that explores their relational dynamic to men and the male gaze “I don’t get men, they only seem to want to destroy me. Do I pretend that heavens in their eyes when I’m lonely…” Heavy is a fearful and tender ballad that explores the effects that masculine abuse has had on how Lilley and Moonga K. move through the world, and in-turn react to it. It’s soulful sparse and cold listening experience that can leave you feeling as weighted as its title.

Read more Moonga K. related content here, Greg Abrahams here.

High Level – James BKS featuring The Big Hash [produced by James BKS]

James BKS breathes new life into The Big Hash with a track that has no business being as provocative as it is. High Level is a muscular anthem that reeks of gasoline; its production feels like a sports car cruising in fifth gear taunting you to keep up. The track is Afrofusion hip-hop that spiritedly pulls from multiple sources in its pursuit of a colossal sound. It begins with a hand clapped West African chant that feels like a war cry before aggressively rock guitars seep in to further zone in on the track’s combative appeal. If that wasn’t enough BKS brings in these climactic Mediterranean keys in the chorus that feel like a Gladiator hyping a crowd when mixed with the chants. High Level is sonic war that finds The Big Hash coming out for blood. Hash is a venomous force of nature out to unleash disrespect and it’s quite thrilling. James SBK’s propulsive production is a refreshing tonal change that allows Hash to thrive in his cocky nature. The chorus alone has some of his more inventive braggadoccio, being so emboldened to even take aim at the devil. “Jesus took the wheel from me, sped on the gas pedal. Going toe to toe with the devil, looked him in the eye with a smile to tell him he ain’t special. No, he ain’t!” I love a disrespectful braggadocios rap and High Level delivers that up on an infectiously high level.

Read more The Big Hash related content here.

I Wish You Would Hate Me – Rushab Nandha, Gabbie & adamskiii [produced by Rushab Nandha & Gabrielle Maina]

“Maybe this is just the way it is but the way it is isn’t working out for me.” Our next pick finds us sliding to Kenya for a chilled dance song about frustrated heartbreak, I Wish You Would Hate Me. Gabbie and adamskii are reeling from a fractured and estranged relationship that they’re longing to return to. It’s like they wish their partners had hated them so the estrangement would be an easier pill to swallow. I Wish You Would Hate Me is dreamy house music that Gabbie & adamskii ride with a muted ambivalence. Their performances read like a peek into their internal dialogue as opposed to words that they would actually say out loud; it may sound reserved but it’s also boiling with strong emotion. Nandha and Maina’s production has a tempo that sooths with chords that bring an air of melancholy. I Wish You Would Hate Me is a relaxing vibe that invites you to stew in its emotion. Captivatingly written and nonchalantly delivered, it’s one of the cooler dance songs I’ve happened upon this past year.

In A Loop – Boj featuring Mellissa & Moliy [produced by Yinoluu]

“Home girl wanna get it, the boyfriend kinda livid. Every story got two sides, he ain’t even tryna listen…” I don’t want to lie to you, the casual audacity that lives within this opening lyric is the mess that pulled me into this chaotically blissful song. Boj, Mellissa and Moliy bring us into the world of sneaky links and their relational dynamics in this banger of a song. It finds Boj offering himself up as a side as we see the various feelings, expressions and negotiations being had as they come to this arrangement. Sonically the song feels like if UK Garage was infused with an Alté flavour, suffice to say that it sounds like paradise to my ears. In A Loop is a flirty, breezy vibe that keeps alluring you to stay. It’s got an amazing hook, sits on a refreshingly cool production and has Boj, Mellissa and Moliy committing to the vibe with entertaining conviction. It fires on all cylinders for me. In A Loop has been on loop from the moment I heard it and it has refused to loosen its grip ever since, what we fi do?

Jumaima – Mlindo The Vocalist featuring Ishmael [produced by Howard Gomba]

I am a huge fan of a well-executed intergenerational musical moment. Our next picks finds one of our contemporary crooners of South African Afropop teaming up with a cemented icon from the turn of the millennium and the result is truly irresistible. Jumaima is an infatuated piece of Afropop that finds Mlindo The Vocalist and Ishmael professing their feelings to the women they’re courting. Mlindo is gobsmacked by his love, so speechless that his entire first verse is literally a variation of the following words “Your beauty, your smile. My love, I have no words.” And I get him, I really do. He finds more words by the second verse as he now wants to show her off to the world, hand in tow before Ishmael slides in with his own sweet nothings. The iconic crooner doesn’t miss a step as he injects the track with his signature swagger before Mlindo comes back in for a vocal back and forth leading into the track’s climax. Jumaima is addictive and feel-good swooning from some of South Africa’s premium crooners. It’s got a classic groove that makes you want to sway with somebody. It’s that soul food Afro-pop I spoke about with Sondela, and I find myself gluttonous with the amount of helpings I have when Jumaima comes on.

Lily – Mars Baby [produced by Mars Baby and Shooterkhumz]

“I’ve never done cocaine but I’d inhale a key of you. I’ve never felt like this, I’m on the street I fiend for you, only you…” These are the opening words of our next pick of a love song. Mars Baby enjoys injecting his love songs with a heavy dose of deviant imagery that makes their very existence feel outlawed. Baby is in an intoxicated state of infatuation that he’s both actively seeking out and questioning whilst comparing this intense attraction to the highs of hard drugs like lily white cocaine. The deviance isn’t just lyrical as the feeling is baked into the production from the minor key that gives the instrumentation a bluesy feel to the repitched echoed vocals that hollow out Baby’s sentiments. Lily is a soothing ballad from a quietly bold alternative artist who’s getting more assured with every release. The moodiness is better contextualised within his conceptual Echoes EP, where if I’m being honest Lily isn’t even the most interesting song it’s just my favourite. So if all I’ve said interests you I’d suggest tapping into the full body of work for a fuller experience.

Read more Mars Baby related content here, Shooterkhumz here.

Listen to Mars Baby’s All That Yazz Feature here.

London Road – NOTBENJAMIN featuring Ason [produced NOTBENJAMIN]

“Please don’t run from me, please don’t run from me… Please don’t run from me, if you come don’t leave!” NOTBENJAMIN and Ason Leaux simmer in this soothingly melancholic trip. London Road finds Ason hurting! This man is aching over a girl that his subconscious won’t let go of despite him wanting to not think about her; but the thing is he wants her, Ason is yearning for her to stay. NOTBENJAMIN flexes in this production that sees him taking his time. This instrumentation is plush with a dreamy quality that’s still pensive. The electric guitar sears, making embers that intensify the song’s yearning quality until it climaxes in what is one of my favourite bridges of the year. London Road is pop-accessible trap that is dreamy and invokes a certain wanderlust that makes you want to play it on drives during the sunset. According to Spotify London Road was my 5th most played song of 2022 from this list and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon, she be replaying in my dreams man.

Read more NOTBENJAMIN related content here and Ason here.

Listen to NOTBENJAMIN’s All That Yazz interview here.

Maybe – Ukweli & Xenia Manasseh [produced by Ukweli]

Our next pick continues our streak of bated love songs with a simmering R&B ballad from Kenyan hitmakers with Maybe. Xenia Manasseh is a ball of nerves in Maybe as she ponders on whether she’s ready to take a chance at love with a guy she has deep feelings for. Manasseh is steadily becoming one of my favourite rising R&B singers and quite a few of the reasons why are apparent within Maybe; a lot of them can be heard in her line delivery. Manasseh’s vocal production manages to breathe life and intimacy into each tonal phrase with an actor’s precision. Her vocal production and harmonic choices captivated on both her appearances on this year’s list but it particularly shines here as she has a wider canvas to intimately express her apprehension and internal turmoil. Ukweli’s production is its own act of tension brimming with nervous energy. The eerie synths and cool keys in the intro set a scene of late night contemplation before the drums settle in to heighten the song’s anxious energy. Maybe is captivating contemporary R&B dripping with drama, yearn and relatability. It’s a tempestuous collaboration between two compelling musicians that I have fallen into on many a night just as Manasseh does in the track.

Read more Xenia Manasseh related content here.

Never Ride – MashBeatz featuring Maglera Doe Boy & Thato Saul [produced by MashBeatz]

Mashbeatz, Thato Saul and Maglera Doe Boy captured the cultural zeitgeist with the absolute banger that is Never Ride. I witnessed excited pandemonium occur when they first performed this live at StreetFest. The stage broke as dozens of contemporary hip-hop tastemakers rushed it to further hype this anthem to an already rabid crowd of hip-hop lovers. One could not go two ad-breaks during this year’s South African Music Awards telecast without seeing Spotify’s Aunty hum along to Maglera’s verse. Debates were fervent on who should have the honour of spitting on Mashbeatz’ exuberant production when an official remix was announced. This was hip-hop’s cultural song of the year and here’s why I love it. Mashbeatz’ production is a mood-boosting rush of energy that’s primed for celebration. Thato Saul meets that energy with one of his most provocative hooks brimming with braggadocios disrespect. Maglera’s flow on his verse is so infectious that you could mistake it for another chorus. This man floats as he seamlessly switches between four languages poetically painting a portrait of his developmental surroundings and the racketeering figures from that place. The barking adlibs continue to add spice to an already hype-inducing anthem that is unrelentingly boastful. It’s an anthem for the streets and the streets ran with it. Never Ride‘s a thrilling anthem that continues to show that South African hip-hop is in a blooming spring. It’s an ascendant moment that saw these contemporary hip-hop trailblazers triumph and I’ve been rooting for them to win.

Read more Mashbeatz related content here, Thato Saul here, Maglera Doe Boy here and Feziekk here.

Listen to Thato Saul’s All That Yazz feature here and Feziekk’s interview here.

Fun Fact: For the second year in a row, Maglera Doe Boy is tied for the most appearances of any rapper/singer on the Next Gen Greats list. This year he shares the honors with Thato Saul and Blxckie who all appear 3 times on the 2022 list. Only one musician has more artist appearances on this year’s list.

Ngeke – DBN Gogo featuring MaWhoo, EltonK, Stixx, Baby S.O.N, Boontle RSA, DJ Stopper & Zadok [produced by DBN Gogo & EltonK]

DBN Gogo has been on such a roll with her releases that she may need a Bells. Our next pick is the last song to have made our overall list because Ngeke has had me hooked from first listen. The second track off of DBN Gogo’s What’s Real album is a meditative call for resilience propelled by MaWhoo’s powerful vocals. Ngeke is a spiritual experience that finds DBN Gogo and Elton K soulfully mixing House and Amapiano in this musically rich production. The song maintains a progressive energy with one of my favourite elements being the soulful guitar flourishes that continue to percolate on top of the track’s warm keys. MaWhoo takes us to church with a rousing vocal performance that finds her spiritedly defiant as she refuses to let her past failures keep her down as she fights to keep going. Boontle RSA feels more worn down in his verse as he also tries to get back. Ngeke beckons you to keep fighting and trying whether you have all the fight in you or are still reeling, don’t give up. It’s simple, powerful and an evocative portrayal of the human spirit that needs to keep on going.

Nobody But Me – Leo Brenin [produced by Leo Brenin]

“Heaven on earth when you’re giving it to nobody but me, saving it for nobody but me, waiting up for nobody but me… Your body, my body singing.” Satisfaction. That’s the main feeling I get from this song. Nobody But Me is a satisfying song about a satisfying feeling sung by a satisfied crooner on top of a satisfied groove. It’s sexily smooth satisfaction. Nobody But Me follows in the foreplay footsteps of jazzy R&B rompers like Justin Timberlake’s Señorita and Bruno Mars’ Chunky. Leo Brenin glides in this sensual ode to lovemaking that finds him enjoying it in the first verse before trying to play matchmaker for the gorgeous girls of the 041 in the second verse. I don’t have anything deep to say about this song, it just feels good and gets me in the groove every time I hear it. Nobody But Me is a strong song from an Eastern Cape crooner you should be paying more attention to.

Rewind – Namakau Star [produced by LordKeyyZ]

Namakau Star has built her artistry off of being a fearless sonic adventurer with the amount of soundscapes she’s inhabited. Our next pick finds her reminiscing on a past love of galactic importance with Rewind. Rewind finds Star reflecting on a past relationship that she would love to have a second shot at having again. It’s an indulgent listening experience that allows Star to indulge in a love that she feels grateful to have experienced. LordKeyyZ’ comforting production has a groove that really sits in the pocket. The constant “yeah-yeah” and the mid-tempo groove ground you in the song’s introspective mindset whilst the keyboard flourishes give this song a funky and astronomical appeal. Despite being somewhat melancholic the song has this peaceful vibe because of Star’s earnest tone and vocal performance against LordKeyyZ’ groove. Rewind is refreshing neo-soul that you can just vibe out on a lazy evening as you get lost in its groove. It’s an audacious musical exploration from a daring sonic traveler. 

Salary Salary – Robot Boii, Soul Revolver, Mellow & Sleazy featuring Shaun MusiQ & F Tearse [produced by Soul Revolver, Mellow & Sleazy]

Viral dance challenges have become a catalytic force in propelling many Amapiano hits that have now become iconic. A personal issue I’ve had with some of the hits I’ve been introduced to in this fashion is that the magic that drew me within those snippets rarely held as captivating with the full release, that is not the case with Salary Salary. Salary Salary is a banger that is as relentless as the capitalistic hustle the song embodies. Soul Revolver and Mellow & Sleazy’s production is boisterous Bacardi teeming with personality, I mean the bass riff alone is a propulsive force towards the dancefloor. Robot Boii injects his signature laid-back charisma onto the track, providing a cooler texture within this towering production and the result is truly irresistible. Salary Salary is a bustling club thumper so assured in its sauce that it’s infectious. It’s a jolt of energy that gets you on your feet, guiding you to the dancefloor as well as your next hustle.

Wait For Love – Tanaka

Sometimes the line between fantasy and delusion are one in the same where love and infatuation are concerned, our final pick is a new-wave wonderland that straddles both into its effervescent existence. Wait For Love finds Tanaka pining over a relationship that fizzled a year ago, holding on to the hope that they can rekindle their love. He fantasizes scenarios of their possible reconciliation whilst the production sweeps you with the overwhelming emotion he’s holding onto. Wait For Love‘s synth-pop production is so dreamily giddy that it makes you want to jump around with child-like abandon. Tanaka’s vocal approach further leans into this unbridled disposition whether you’re talking about his coy lead vocal or the whimsical backgrounds that are littered with warm and joyful harmonies. The harmonies, especially in the bridges, feel so fuzzy that you can find yourself rooting for Tanaka despite how delusional his disposition may be when viewed through a sober lens. The lines between fantasy, hope and delusion are blurred in this blissfully nostalgic love song. Wait For Love is dreamy, escapist pop that sweeps you into whimsy. It’s an uninhibited burst of infatuation that is beautifully crafted, tenderly sung and instantaneously became one of my favourite pop songs of the year. Tanaka’s young catalogue of singles shows he has a penchant for creating romantic synth-pop soundscapes. I am more than excited to hear what a full body-of-work from him will sound like when he’s already making musical statements as fluttery and technicolored as Wait For Love.

One thought on “Our Songs of 2022 – Part 3 of 4

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