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Our 25 Favourite Albums of 2022

Kendrick Lamar, Smino, FKA Twigs, and more of the team’s favourite records this year.

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It’s that time of year again! And with so much incredible music coming out around the world in 2022, our writing staff had a tough time narrowing down the list of our favourite albums and mixtapes of the year to just 25. From established artists dropping highly-anticipated follow-ups, to exciting newcomers making a splash with their debut releases, there was no shortage of great music to choose from. Here is the countdown of 25 projects the Acclaim team has had on high rotation in 2022

            • #25. Kenny Beats – Louie (USA)

              On Louie, Kenny Beats’ achieves the difficult task of creating an instrumental album that tells a story and speaks for itself. Instead of staying behind the boards, Kenny takes centre stage, playing pieces that toe the line between indie, hip-hop, and soul but find common ground in their vibrance and warmth. This album dedicates itself to reframing the love song, leaving the lust of romance behind, and focusing on both the good times and trials and tribulations that come with family ties. While Kenny made this album with his father in mind, he purposely left it vague, allowing listeners to find personal meaning in the mix. Thus, the album becomes a companion rather than an escape, and an ideal soundtrack for any sentimental experience. — Henry O.

            • #24 Tasman Keith – A Colour Undone (AUS)

              I was obsessed when I first heard A Colour Undone, and I couldn’t help but draw sonic references to Kendrick. I vividly recall the full-body experience I felt when I listened to the last track on the album ‘TREAD LIGHT’, and I still feel a type of way when I think of it. Formidable. From start to finish, this album makes me think of the limitless and endearing expansion of love, and the depths of trauma paired with the process of unravelling yourself, followed by the comfort of healing yourself from the inside out. More on the feature I did with him. I’m so excited to hear what is next from Tasman as I can tell he is only warming up. The First Nations music scene is incredible. — Taneshia A.

            • #23. Jean Dawson – CHAOS NOW* (USA)

              Jean Dawson’s CHAOS NOW* is a rapid-fire frenzy of fun. From the get-go, crunchy guitars pulsate, and arena-ready drums crash. Pit stops come in the form of slower songs like ‘BAD FRUIT’, engulfing your experience in a sense of mellowness, before returning to the pandemonium. Vocally, Jean Dawson is as versatile as ever, seamlessly switching between shouty rap passages and impassioned croons. Thematically, it’s a soundtrack for outcasts, with every song unleashing open-book feelings and finding contentment in one’s true self, even if it seems like you’ll never fit in. Relatable and refreshingly unique, CHAOS NOW* is a quick-hitting harbinger of the power we all possess to push through life’s adversity, packaged within 35 minutes of catchy tunes. — Henry O.


            • #22. K-Trap x Blade Brown – Joints (UK)

              One of the most complete releases to come out of the UK this year in my opinion, K-Trap showed his work rate with two solid albums in a calendar year, a sold-out British tour, and a push for number 1 on the UK hip-hop charts with his hit single ‘Warm‘ a year after its release. Teaming up with street rap pioneer Blade Brown who took a break from his Bags and Boxes mixtape series to release this masterful collaborative project, further solidifying both artists’ pedigree. Blade’s lavish lifestyle raps and business acumen paired with K-Trap’s storytelling ability make the Joints a project deserving of a mention on this year’s round-up. — Saeed A.

            • #21. 1300 – Foreign Language (AUS/KOREA)

              When Korean-Australian hip-hop group 1300 rolled into Melbourne to support Burn City rap heroes 3K as part of the Picked Last trio’s triumphant City Of Fever launch show, I knew I was going to have a hell of a time. As expected, their performance was one to remember–despite existing as a group for a relatively short time, their live show is polished while also maintaining a sense of chaos. The quintet have channelled the unbridled energy and chemistry of their live shows into their debut mixtape, Foreign Language, and it’s fun from start to finish. Vocalists rako, goyo and DALI HART exude confidence whenever they grab a mic, while producers Nerdie and pokari.sweat keep cooking up hyperactive and slightly off-kilter tracks that are made for sticky dancefloors and sweaty moshpits. Featuring appearances from Agung Mango, Raj Mahal, Qim Isle and even Aaron Chen (yes, really), Foreign Language is slightly tongue-in-cheek, while containing some of the most forward-thinking and exciting hip-hop to come out of Australia in years. The closing track ‘WOAH DAMN’ is a DnB slammer, while the swaggering ‘Oldboy’ pays tribute to the iconic Korean film of the same name (and its release came with one of the best music videos of the year). Go listen to it already! — Ben M.

            • #20. Pip Millett – When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know (UK)

              It’s been a long time coming for Pip Millett’s debut album When Everything is Better I’ll Let You Know, which effortlessly captures the rawness of heartbreak, and finding the light in dark times. Millet’s latest album is a true gem, showcasing her exceptional vocal abilities and authentic, honest lyricism. Each song is a sincere expression of her emotions and experiences, creating a deeply personal and intimate listening experience. With her dreamy vocals and relatable narrative, Millet has captured the essence of pouring one’s heart into their art with great skill.  — Aisha H.

            • #19. Young Nudy – EA Monster (USA)

              Nudy welcomes you into an eerie world on EA Land. The production is heavy, with 808s punching and lugubrious synths lurking throughout the tracklist, courtesy of producers like Pierre Bourne and Coupe. It feels like a haunted carnival set in East Atlanta; Young Nudy’s hometown. The rapper navigates this atmosphere without a sweat, stringing together an array of triplet flows and boisterous lines in an impressively effortless manner. Spiritually, this project sounds like a successor to the sounds of 2010s trap artists like Young Scooter but stands out as something special thanks to Nudy’s undeniably unique swagger. EA Land is a must-listen for some infectious bounce. — Henry O.

            • #18. ROSALÍA – Motomami (SPAIN)


              Rosalía kicked everyone into shape on MOTOMAMI. First-time listeners like myself needn’t worry as the album is a mixed bag of styles that sees Rosalía tackles several genres at a time throughout, showcasing the superstar’s ability to create a captivating listening experience across diverse soundscapes. In just 42 minutes, she manages to cover a wide range of musical styles and themes with relentless creativity. Her powerful voice commands attention and keeps the listener fully entranced before realising the album is through. Justice for the title track ‘MOTOMAMI’, though; one minute long is so cruel (if there were an extended version with a Shygirl feature, that would have sent me). — Adele L

            • #17. Joey Bada$$ – 2000 (USA)

              Joey Badass is bringing us back to the roots of Hip-Hop with his classic flow and rap style. His new album, 2000, showcases his growth as an artist, tackling themes of fatherhood, mental health, and grief. With 10 years in the industry since the release of his debut album 1999, Joey is unapologetic and full of confidence, maturity, and ambition. Get ready to be transported to the origins of Hip-Hop and witness the evolution of Joey Badass with his latest project. — Aisha H.

            • #16. Fousheé – softCORE (USA)

              Making it just in time before the year closes is Fousheé’s softCORE. The unwavering way that Fousheé is able to bridge together pop-punk and indie-folk on one record is refreshing and commendable. When listening to Fousheé’s hardships scattered throughout the project, you may find yourself wanting to scream and cry along with her. Tracks like ‘I’m fine’ see Fousheé’s emotional state fluctuate rapidly between extremes as she repeatedly asserts that she’s “fine,” even though it’s clear to the listener that she is not. However, she doesn’t front on later tracks ‘die’ and ‘bored’, choosing rebellion and recklessness in exchange for sadness and heartache. We’re in our feelings with Foushee’s emotional journey on softCORE — she is the one! — Adele L.

            • #15. Saba – Few Good Things (USA)

              I am a sucker for wordplay so this was always going to be a favourite. On his Album Few Good Things, Saba tells a seriously captivating story from start to finish, each song feeling like an individual chapter of one of those books you can’t seem to put down. The project makes his early challenges and come up to his success feel oddly relatable, or maybe he just narrates in such a poignant and picturesque way that really makes sense. And even though the themes across the album strongly revolve around money – the story seems to speak to exactly the opposite. HOW? — Taneshia A.


              #14. Quavo x Takeoff – Only Built For Infinity Links (USA)

              With the tragic sudden passing of Takeoff less than a month after the album’s release, it’s hard to look at it without mourning the loss of the trailblazing talent. Despite this heartbreaking event, the album remains a testament to the incredible chemistry and talent of Quavo and Takeoff. Only Built for Infinity Links is a masterclass in synergy, as Takeoff and Quavo go bar-for-bar across the 18 tracks, paying homage to iconic duos like Outkast, Shaq and Kobe, and Raekwon and Ghostface. The Uncle-Nephew duo complement each other’s style and switch roles seamlessly, absolutely gliding on tracks like ‘HOTEL LOBBY’ and ‘Nothing Changed’, with palpable energy throughout the project. It’s the quiet-achiever Takeoff, however, who particularly shines on the project, using the extra space to really rap his ass off.

              Less than a week before the tragic incident, I had the privilege of interviewing Quavo and Take (which we hope to publish someday); our conversation ended with an interaction that will always make me smile — I suggested another famous duo comparison in  Scorpion and Sub Zero from the Mortal Kombat series when avid gamer Takeoff chimed in with a devious grin, “I love it. Cos, I might go Sub-Zero because of all the ice I got on, but sometimes I put on the yellow diamonds and go Scorpion. And we call the diamonds Liu Kang cos they always kickin’.” It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard someone say. Rest in peace, Takeoff; you will be greatly missed. — Cass N.

              #13. Knucks – ALPHA PLACE (UK)

              2022 has undoubtedly been an important year for North West London native Knucks and the progression of the UK rap climate generally. Emerging from a grime and traditional hip-hop background, Knucks’ gradual ascent to the top of the UK rap game has been a pleasure to witness, and he is still so early in his career, so there are more exciting heights to be reached. Knucks’ unique and uncompromising jazz-infused drill sound across Alpha Place has pushed many boundaries. The project was executively produced with Grammy award-winning producer Venna, who is known for being a talented saxophonist, contributing to Knucks’ signature smooth, elegant jazz sound. Excelling in flows, bars, and storytelling – Knucks is clearly a student of rap. His originality and standout style has pushed him to the forefront of a new generation of rappers. Alpha Place deserves to be on everyone’s list of great 2022 projects for its exceptional quality, cohesiveness, and storytelling. — Naz H.

              #12. Asake – Mr. Money With The Vibe (NIGERIA)

              Nigerian artist Asake has had a meteoric rise in 2022, culminating in the release of his debut studio album. Despite claiming to have an introverted demeanour offstage, Asake’s energetic performances and flashy style have made him a standout in the Nigerian music scene. His debut album Mr Money With The Vibe, is steeped in the Yoruba music genre Fuji and blended with Afrobeats, Pop, Amapiano and more, allowing Asake to showcase his magnetic charisma, vocal talents, and the electric chemistry between him and producer Magicsticks, who produced all 12 tracks on the album. Asake’s unique use of Amapiano and South African influences adds a fresh flavour to the genre and positions him as a rising star in the Nigerian music landscape. There is a lot of ground being covered with exceptional creativity on this project, making it hard to pick a favourite track, but ‘Organise’ is up there with its Fela Kuti-esque feel and electrifying call-and-response chorus. MMWTV serves as a glimpse into the origins of a burgeoning superstar, fearlessly blending his musical and cultural influences, and to top it off, Asake has warned that the best is yet to come. — Cass N.


              #11. Ari Lennox – age/sex/location (USA)

              Coloured with maturity and lessons in self-discovery, Age/Sex/Location reflects an unwavering sense of self for Dreamville artist, Ari Lennox. Following the success of her debut album Shea Butter Baby which was released in 2019, Lennox has taken a slightly alternate route on her newest project. The soulful songstress did not mince her words when it came to the project’s lyricism, creating multiple anthems such as ‘Blocking You’ and ‘Boy Bye’ for those looking to cut out toxic people. Impressively, Lennox continues to nestle her signature buttery vocals and soothing soundscapes throughout each track, allowing her audience to easily move from song to song and lose themselves within the album. — Aisha H


          • #10. Burna Boy – Love, Damini (NIGERIA)

            The Burna Boy takeover was real this year. The Nigerian trailblazer has taken his signature Afro-fusion to truly global heights this time; it’s a cathartic blend of afrobeats, dancehall, reggae, soulful hip-hop and pop that has seen Burna truly dominate the 2022 soundsphere. This sixth studio album cemented Burna Boy’s position as a certified global superstar, who now carries four Grammy nominations and a 2021 win under his belt. It’s evident that Love, Damini was part of a global cultural shift when it comes to Afrobeats taking over popular music. It’s an immersive listening experience, taking you into the highs and lows of Burna Boy’s world, with standout tracks like ‘Last, Last’ serving as an inescapably infectious anthem (love the Toni Braxton sample) and ‘It’s Plenty’ radiating fluttering warmth and playful melodies. Thanks, Burna Boy for keeping our spirits high this year! I won’t be surprised if the Nigerian artist bags a two-time Grammy win for this album — special shoutout to New Zealand artist Rory Noble who produced track 19 ‘How Bad It Could Be’ and is now also Grammy-nominated! — Bre T.


            #9. Joony – Pretty In Black (USA)

            Joony was on the bubble this year with his album Pretty in Black, a project that surely foreshadows a massive rise from the little-known artist out of Maryland, USA. The album is reminiscent of the Lil Skies and Lyrical Lemonade onslaught of 2017, but with a refreshingly repackaged for 2022. It’s difficult to say whether Joony drew inspiration from that era, but nothing I have heard this year compares to the feeling this album invokes. With insane replay value and hit after hit, I’m certain Joony will have a star-studded 2023 if he keeps on this pace. Growing in streams and notoriety this year, his tracks ‘DRIFTING IN TOKYO’ and ‘ON DAT SHIT’ are standouts on the album. — Saeed A.


            #8. Black Sherif – The Villain I Never Was (Ghana)

            Of course, I fucked up; who never fucked up hands in the air (no hands?).” That infamous line from ‘Kwaku The Traveller’ just about hooked me in for good when it first caught me off guard back in May. There’s something incredibly endearing about Black Sherif; if you never saw a picture of him, you could definitely think he was double his age. He’s kind of like an uncle with drip. Regardless, the 20-year-old’s debut album The Villain I Never Was, offers a mature and nuanced exploration of his life and experiences. Growing up in one of the toughest areas of Ghana, Black Sherif’s music is observant and self-aware, and he shares his struggles, triumphs, and reflections with a vulnerability in his voice. Backed by a vibrant mash of Asakaa (Ghanaian drill), afrobeats and reggae-influenced sounds, Black Sherif’s words (despite being in mix of English, Twi and Pidgin) and intonation have found a particular way of transcending cultural barriers, building an emotional connection with the listener and going viral in the process. Black Sherif is destined for greatness, and I doubt it will take him long to get there. — Cass N.


            #7. Brent Faiyaz – Wasteland (USA)

            No one does soft aggression quite like Brent Faiyaz. There’s a certain voracity to his music that is unique to Faiyaz’s sound, a raw and direct storytelling approach that is neatly packaged in sleek and sultry R&B. Following up from his 2020 EP Fuck The World (I’m a walking erection… sorry, had to), Wasteland doesn’t exactly help Faiyaz plead his case against being dubbed toxic online, but it sure as hell makes for great music. With a loyal cult following, Brent is arguably one of the most exciting voices in R&B, striking a masterful balance with this sophomore album. With yearning melodies, and charmful crooning but also cautionary tales weaved throughout, Wasteland voices how complicated modern love can be. Honourable song mentions are ‘Loose Change’, the Tyler The Creator assisted ‘Gravity’, the ethereal ‘Dead Man Walking’ and ‘All Mine’. Never have I ever sung so confidently, “You come here, I knock your pussy out the damn frame / Remember that last time I made you miss your damn plane.” EEP. I love it. — Bre T.


          • #6. Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights (USA)

            Steve Lacy’s viral album Gemini Rights offers a deep dive into the inner workings of the Gemini personality. As a fellow Gemini, I think I can confidently say that this album called us all out in the best way possible. Its peaks and valleys capture that indecisiveness and visible chaos that occurs in the mind of Gemini. Chuck in a dash of heartache, off-kilter music composition, and a catchy hook and you have a recipe for one of my favourite albums this year. You’ll catch yourself lustfully swooning over someone at one end of this album before wanting to chuck elbows to a Brazilian bossa-nova-inspired track at the next. Thank you, Steve Lacy for it all. — Adele L.


          • #5. Sampa The Great – As Above, So Below (AUS/ZAMBIA)

            When I heard the first verse of  ‘Bona on triple j, I basically pulled my car over on the highway so I could search for and consume the rest of the album. Sampa’s third album takes us on a provoking voyage with her transcending vocals as she celebrates her culture and identity both lyrically and sonically. I read that Sampa returned to her homeland Zambia to record the project with a team who would help deepen her cultural reference points, which reminded me how intentional her artistry is. On one of my favourite tracks on the album, Never Forget, Sampa prompts listeners to remember the often under-recognised influence of African cultures ‘Who took movement/Spirit included/made it a movement/we did, never forget’. Fire. — Taneshia A.


            #4.Ravyn Lenae – HYPNOS (USA)

            Ravyn Lenae’s HYPNOS comes in the form of sweet lullabies and sultry affirmations that also feels like it could double as stories from that older, cooler cousin who always has a story to tell. Her mature approach to songwriting and music, as she details her navigation of love, relationships and spirituality, far exceeds any expectations you could possibly have that you almost find yourself completely stifled at the level and skill that goes into her work at just 23. Her airy and gorgeous vocals glide ever so smoothly across this record, and the same can definitely be said about her writing, as she speaks in self-reflections on one record before cussing out a past lover in the next. It’s magnetic and draws you into a close and intimate embrace, and Ravyn Lenae deserves all of the praise she’s received on her debut.— Adele L.


            #3. FKA Twigs – CAPRISONGS (UK)

            Billed as a mixtape, FKA twigs’ CAPRISONGS is cathartic, for fans and artists alike. It’s ostensibly a soundtrack for a night out, but it also feels like a conversation with a trusted confidante. CAPRISONGS is both celebratory and vulnerable, intimate and relatable, and the snippets of conversation scattered throughout the project have no doubt already inspired so many to go and chase their dreams. On CAPRISONGS’ twinkling opening track ‘ride the dragon’, FKA twigs announces that she’s “made you a mixtape”. Over the next 48 minutes, she brings together elements of dance, R&B and pop music, smashing together elements from a myriad of genres and rebuilding them to fit her vision of what friendship sounds and feels like. Features from the likes of Pa Saileu, The Weeknd, Shygirl and more add even more star power to CAPRISONGS, but make no mistake–they are present as guests in FKA twigs’ world. FKA twigs soars on the affirmative ‘meta angel’, while project highlight ‘darjeeling’ is a celebration of London, Jorja Smith and drill star Unknown T joining in to highlight the city’s strengths. Hearing FKA twigs sing on ‘darjeeling’ “you’re not alone/I’ll wait until the end of time” encapsulates the project’s ethos: she’s made a project that’s full of healing, with a side of astrology. Capricorns, this one is for you. — Ben M.

        • #2. Smino – Luv 4 Rent (USA)

          Smino’s smoothness is undeniable on Luv 4 Rent. This latest album from the St. Louis rapper showcases his best work yet, weaving rapid flows and woozy melodies together seamlessly. The sounds of soul, R&B, and gospel shine through his raspy delivery, expressing with a cadence akin to greats like Andre 3000 and Bootsy Collins. But where this album truly gleams with greatness is within its subject matter, which finds Smino exploring love, growth, and family. Positivity is constant throughout as if he’s raising a proverbial glass for a toast on every track, even when he hearkens back to times of adversity. ‘Defibrillator’ finds purity in a conversation with his incarcerated uncle, who articulates his pride for the people around him knowing his nephew’s music. ‘Blu Billy’ finds the common thread between hitters, dealers, healers, and preachers, acknowledging that they’re “conditioned by condition” and all strive for the same thing: a better life. Luv 4 Rent is an album that finds the good in people, the beauty in life, and emphasises that love’s purest state uses self-worth as a source. Chuck this album on, enjoy the impressive style of Smino and bask in this vibrant reminder to celebrate yourself. — Henry O.


        • #1. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (USA)

          Kendrick Lamar is widely regarded as one of our generation’s most talented and influential artists, so it’s no surprise he’d be tough to beat for the top spot. However, in the five years since his last album, DAMN, Kendrick has largely kept a low profile—reemerging into a world impacted by the pandemic, global protests against police brutality, and increased political division. On his fifth studio album, Kendrick reflects on his time away from the spotlight with bold introspection and subtle yet sophisticated lyrics—rich with nuance and begging to be unpacked more with each listen. Across the double album, Kendrick tackles themes of family, therapy, religion, cancel culture, mindfulness, and healing with his characteristic attention to detail.

          Kendrick’s final album for Top Dawg Entertainment is one we’ll be unpacking for years to come. It showcases Kendrick’s gleeful subversion of expectations as he spits venomous taunts and despondent confessions over smooth funk and soul production. Kendrick is a true master of perspective who challenges the listener with his versatile style and storytelling. — Cass N.