The Best Music Videos Of 2022
Featuring Sampha the Great, Asake and more
Featuring Sampha the Great, Asake and more
It is not unusual in today’s world to see a music video for a chart-topper garner millions of views within hours of its release. As the scope of African music continues to expand and we witness the growth of the scene like never before – with its key players slinging the ropes of the sounds from this side well beyond its curbs – it is crucial to recognise the role visuals play. From show-stopping set designs and dazzling aesthetics, music videos do not only aid the creator in expanding the world of their music. They also provide a fresh perspective and deep dive into the minds of your favourite artists, creating an immersive experience.
Well beyond the artist, a slew of creatives inclusive but not exhaustive of producers, directors, hair and makeup artists, stylists, lighting, editors and writers aid in translating and transforming a vision, previously communicated by a series of melodies and catchy hooks into an enthralling video fit for the tune. With today’s consumers relying heavily on visual content, the roles of these visionaries could not be more imperative. The NATIVE’s editorial team, in a bid to spotlight some of the best music videos this year, combed through a series of selections, taking into consideration a series of factors: compelling storyline, masterful direction, aesthetic appeal and clear correspondence to the track to name a few.
Every time video director TG Omori and Asake come together to make a video, the result always stands out. The video for Fireboy DML’s hit single “Bandana” featuring Asake is not left out of this conversation. From the visual storytelling to the styling, the video depicts the message that the song’s lyrics are trying to convey. As they both perform their various parts of the song, the video sees the artists collectively and individually bring their best foot forward. In one scene, Asake is in a church speaking to his maker for guidance, while in another, Fireboy is alone with his thoughts and his musical instruments. The TG Omori-directed video, which carries the same electrifying energy that the record exudes, is a stunning ode to rebellion.
A clear standout from his fifth studio album, ‘Gemini,’ South African House DJ and producer celebrates otherworldly strings, pristine chord arrangements and the mellifluous vocals of Ben September and Mandlin Beams on the stunning Afro-house number, “Breakfast In Soweto.” Starring in the minimalist visuals directed by Toolz, Ben September takes on the role of a father and husband as he expresses his gratitude for the otherwise mundane aspects of life. Assisted by Mandlin Beams, the pair goes back and forth showing their appreciation for each other with a greyish colour palette featuring subtle pops of red in its variations. With a simple storyline and neutral colour grading, the visuals not only support the track’s message of love but allow it to take centre stage as the pair re-enact the song’s title.
Blaqbonez’s unique storytelling skills have put him on a different calibre with each release. From his songs to his visuals, his knack for creating masterpieces has been cathartic. In late 2022, Blaqbonez released his sophomore project ‘Young Preacher,’ which housed the eccentric “Back in Uni” where he made his directorial debut in his usual fashion–a parodic sense of creativity.
The accompanying set of visuals is experimental in scope and execution as he teams up with Abdulrasaq Babalola to recreate key moments from several Nigerian music videos. The colourful visuals pay homage to Nigerian stars as he mirrors Oxlade’s smash COLORS performance in “Ku Lo Sa,” Wizkid ‘s “Bad To Me” cover art, “Girlfriend” by Ruger, Ayra Starr’s “Rush,” Asake’s famous church scene in “Bandana” as well as Burna Boy, Portable, BNXN, and skit-maker, Carter Efe. The peak moment in the video is in the final minute as he uses satire in the whole production to highlight that there is a spot for everyone in the industry.
With candid storytelling and an East-meets-West collaboration, the video to Blinky Bill’s “Inaweza Haiwezi” was one of the best videos of 2022. Directed by Zack Adell, the Kenyan artist taps Ghanaian rapper M.anifest and fellow countryman Khaligraph Jones to execute raw moments of their presence in the industry. The song’s title, which roughly translates to “It can or it can’t,” puts a new light on Blinky Bill’s successful career as he boldly sends a message to anyone doubting his capability.
In a cool, slick production, the video takes the form of a digital magazine issue and highlights the content of each rapper as chapters. Zack Adell uses the magazine template to predict Billy’s continuous success in the scene as an industry leader creating necessary traction. The strongest point of the video is the well-structured graphics that highlight key parts of the artists’ lyrics while evoking a thought process. The Pan African music video displays the trio’s skilful wit and braggadocio lyrics, while also celebrating the rich melanin tone of Africans as Zack Adell draws inspiration from filmmakers working with dark skin models.
T.G Omori has been the video director to watch all through 2022. His usage of multiplicity mirrors the stuffed quality of contemporary Afropop music, while he’s also been eager to show off action-packed scenes that play out with the tension of a feature movie. On the other hand, Rema is one of the most dynamic artists Nigeria has ever seen. His flair for humoured drama is only bettered by his artistic prowess, and for the video of “Are You There?” both creatives meet each other halfway to deliver a captivating career highlight.
Perhaps the most eccentric record on ‘Rave & Roses,’ the militant nature of Rema’s lyrics, when paired with the beat’s swashbuckling groove and the incorporation of party-ready one-liners digs up enough material to work with. T.G’s colours and signature crowds feature here, but so does the wasted potential of Nigerian politicians, the glimmer of a clubhouse matched with the desolate structures of a shanty. In the role of revolutionary, Rema proves his acting credentials, switching from incendiary to hedonist in seconds, the camera moving with as much pace so the narrative isn’t bogged down or overly polished.
Nostalgia is a big part of the music BOJ creates and in his music videos, he showcases this impeccably. On “Culture,” alternative singer and songwriter teams up with ENNY for a modern ‘80’s-inspired pop record. The video displays these inspirations of the record with its styling and aesthetic. A My Accomplice production, the video for “Culture” is an all-round lush watch helmed by one of the most promising directors in the game and you can’t help but escape into the world BOJ and ENNY created.
Everything about Asake tends to be instantly iconic. His music video for “Organise” is no exception. Directed by TG Omori, the video is filled with distinct visuals. One of those is the scene of students in an exam room, which creates a visceral reaction in viewers as it harkens back to some of the most stressful times in the lives of most people. The uniforms also create a sense of order and conformity. This sense of order is contrasted with the chaos in the rest of the video, as we see scenes of a man selling a Nigerian artefact to foreign buyers, before being reprimanded and kidnapped by men who appear to be tribal leaders.
There’s a case of order vs. chaos as bodies of authority are depicted with allusions to exam boards, foreigners in the colonial era and traditional rulers. These authoritarian figures go up against the rebellion of the students in the exam room in the opening shots and people playing jazz instruments. This imagery seems to have been intentionally chosen to allude to the song’s title and makes the video one that is thought-provoking but also just a lot of fun to watch.
On “Mais,” their first (and perhaps, only) single of 2022, Paris-based duo Tshegue (comprising of singer Faty Sy Savanet and producer Nicolas ‘Dakou’ Dacunha) orchestrate a hypnotic soundscape moulded from a blend of traditional African percussion, electronic music and punk. For the music video, the director, Ibrahim Kamara (who is also the Editor in chief of the British magazine Dazed) recaptures the intrigue in the sound with striking imageries against a dark background: from dancers covered in red and blue paint to Faty spotting a variety of costume from a gold chest plate to red gown to a wedding dress. A piece of art in itself, the video grabs your attention and doesn’t let go till the end.
Sampa the Great’s “Never Forget” is arguably the greatest feat of cultural reverence in African music this year. It’s a nostalgia-influenced song that becomes a forward-facing project, seamlessly connecting the past and the present with a level of execution that is just downright masterful. In the elaborate video, its aesthetic is woven to represent the depth that comes with understanding the role of history in what’s happening at the moment. The Afrocentric fits are absolutely gorgeous; there’s a controlled frenzy that reflects the poised intensity of Sampa and her collaborators, but it’s the archival footage of ‘70s Zamrock bands performing and the Zambian society around their music that makes “Never Forget” a timeless show of love – for heritage and self.
Being UK-based and Nigerian-born, Obongjayar’s music synthesises a lot of influences. He has likened his creative process to scoring the motions of a film, and “Try” lends itself to a utopian edge. From the unique fashion to its employment of light and colours—unfurling scenes with sharp, deep hues—there’s a total encapsulation of what the 2022 music video should be like. It pays homage to select totems of popular culture while upholding the musician’s heritage, yet responding to the production’s movements and the content of Obongjayar’s poetic lyricism. Perfectly transcendental, “Try” carries the viewer through the metaphorical doors the musician sings of, a universe where anything can be pulled into possibility through the force of artistic will.
A sense of the epic permeates the video of “Try.” As the opener and thematic centrepiece of ‘Some Nights I Dream of Doors,’ translating its message about the eternal importance of strength into a motion picture needed masterful handling, which Spencer Young provides. Sharing screen time with a child rocking an afro, Obongjayar is presented in the awe of a god. Rows of textured garments and a crown of horns portray the mysterious qualities of the record’s production, while ‘60s-esque TVs and energetic dancing relay its techno ambience.