The Rwandan music scene keeps churning out projects that resonate across the East African region, the continent, and the entire world, and 2022 was not different for the thriving music scene which saw Rwandan artistes headlining at big concerts locally and internationally, as well as releasing projects that had impactful change on the global music industry. Based on gigs, performance fee, big projects released in the last 12 months and online streams, The New Times looks at some of the artistes that stayed on top of the game in 2022. Ariel Wayz After parting ways with Symphony Band, no one knew that Ariel Wayz, a young female vocalist from Nyundo School of art and music, could stay at the top of the game as a solo artist. Surprisingly, the 22 year old musician ensured her breakthrough after going solo with the release of some of her best projects that are ranked among the best of 2022 in Rwanda’s music industry. The year began after only two weeks since Ariel released her debut extended play (EP) ‘Love and Lust’ and ‘Way’ featuring Juno Kizigenza which gained more than one million streams on different platforms in its first week of release, making Ariel ways one of the best female artistes of 2021. The two projects were followed by her most viral single tracks of the year such as ‘Good Luck’ produced by Santana and ‘Demo’, a drill track that featured some of the best upcoming drillers in the country including Bruce The 1st, Kivumbi King, Soldier among others. Ariel Wayz’s highlight of the year is the release of her second EP ‘Touch the Sky’ which premiered on September 9 and managed to stay at the top of the charts up to date. The Ep holds powerful tracks like ‘Bad’, an afro-fusion jam produced by Santana, ‘You Should Know’ produced by Ayo Rash, Mpaka and many others. 2022 also saw her performing at some of the biggest concerts staged in Rwanda including the Drip City event, Youth Connect among many others. Chris Eazy Chris Eazy spent the last few years trudging the arduous path of rap superstardom, sharing freestyles and blaring rap singles, until June 2021 when he switched things up with “Fasta”, a raunchy pop song that received widespread attention. It signaled a new era, and before long, he scored a smash hit with “Amashu”. This year, Chriss Eazy dropped his biggest song yet, “Inana”, that came with a colourful video and an accompanying set of dance moves that would help its virality. The single solidified his rep as a hit-maker, placing the 21-year old singer on the path of sustained success. The artiste has been on the road since the release of Inana, performing in different corners of Rwanda as well as outside the country. Chris is also a fashionista who owns a fashion house dubbed ‘Umuana’. 2022 also saw Eazi ranked by The Native Mag as the fifth in top six best new artistes in Africa who are picking up widespread attention. His new release Basi Sori is among the most trending Rwandan songs globally with a dance challenge making rounds on TikTok. Aline Sano There is no doubt that the Afropop Singer Aline Shengero Sano, best known as Alyn Sano, is among the best Rwandan artistes of 2022 after blessing music lovers with endless bangers that are still topping local charts. The year of 2022 saw the renowned female artiste who is also a karaoke singer release back to back bangers including 'Say Less' featuring Fik Fameika of Uganda, ‘Fake Gee’, and ‘Radiyo’ which is still at the top of charts among others. Sano also won the Best Female Artist award at the Kiss Summer Awards 2022 for the first time. Christopher For Christopher Muneza who is popularly known as Christopher AKA Topher, 2022 was a year to keep plotting his comeback in the music industry and the zouk star surely did. The once Kina Music record label member, who is now under his management, started 2022 in style with the release of ‘Nibido’, a zouk-kompa track produced by Element that made significant rounds in the music scene. ‘Nibido’ was followed by ‘Hashtag’ which is among the most trending songs in Rwanda now with close to three million streams on different platforms. 2022 also saw Christopher performing at big concerts in Rwanda like Kigali Fiesta with famous Joeboy and Tayc show among others. Christopher also proved in 2022 to be the best live performer in Rwanda after thrilling music lovers with a number of live performances with the Target band that took the local music industry by storm. Ish Kevin Like 2020 or 2021, this year was no different for the thriving musical journey of the youngest driller and one of the best lyricists in Rwanda, Ish Kevin. The young rapper started 2022 teasing his fans with the release of ‘My Year’ which was the first song on the track list of his famous Trappish mixtape 2 to drop. Ish Kevin later in March dropped the whole project Trappish2”, a seven-track mixtape that features a number of well-known musicians, both locally and internationally including Ycee of Nigeria. After taking a short break, he returned with a new extended play (EP) dubbed ‘Long Way Up’ and the new EP has stayed at the top of local charts since it premiered on December 15. Ish Kevin’s lyricism has been recognised across the continent with a nomination in the Senegalese-based Galsen Hip Hop Awards among others. He has also performed in big concerts locally including the all-star game, Drip City concert, Trappish 2 among others. Kenny Sol Kenny Sol, real name Nobert Rusangawana, is one of the best fast rising artiste in Rwanda who is taking the Rwandan sound to the international scene. The former member of Yemba Voice has been at the top of the game ever since he parted ways with Igitangaza of Bruce Melodie and found a new management line. This year, he appeared in popular songs such as ‘Quality’ featuring Double Jay from Burundi, ‘Telimometa’ with DJ Phil Peter, ‘Joli’ Remix with Peruzzi from Nigeria and many others which are still played in pubs and clubs of Kigali. At the end of this year, the artist was invited to Europe where he will perform for the first time in January. Kenny Sol is the winner of the Best Artist Award at the Kiss Summer Awards 2022. Bwiza Bwiza’s take over in the Rwandan music industry emerged in 2022 after joining Kikac Music through the Next Diva Indi Imbuto contest, and she is already on the map of artists who have captured the hearts of many Rwandan music lovers. The 23-year old girl started making headlines after dropping ‘Ready’ on April 19, and ever since then, she is still dominating local charts and releasing hits after hits. Bwiza is one of the artistes who competed for major awards in Rwanda including two nominations from IMA 2022 (Isango and Muzika Awards), and she was also among the contestants for the Kiss Summer Awards where she was nominated in two categories. Nel Ngabo You cannot forget Nelson Rwangabo Byusa best known as Nel Ngabo, among artistes who shined in 2022 given the fact that he had a successful tour in Canada this year. It was Nel Ngabo’s first performance outside the country and the youngster delivered the best in different cities of Canada including Ottawa, Edmonton and Montreal. This year, Nel Ngabo won three awards at the Kiss Summer Awards 2022 and his song 'Muzadukumbara', which came out on his latest album won best collabo of the year at 'Isango n’a Muzika Awards' in two categories. The youngest member of Kina Music label has already promised his fans a second album to drop next year, a move that makes him one of the artistes to watch in 2023. Kivumbi King The Rwandan music industry is currently blessed with young talented players and Kivumbi King a.k.a Cyacyana is among them. The year of 2022 started a few months after Kivumbi dropped his number one Album ‘DID’ and the young musician continued to churn out hits. This year, Kivumbi dropped some of his biggest bangers including ‘Salute’, ‘Ntacyo Nzaba’, ‘Amarira’, and many others that appeared on his latest EP. The young rapper is also among few upcoming musicians in Rwanda who performed in Europe this year. He performed in different cities including Brussels, Warsaw, Poland and many others. Israel Mbonyi Israel Mbonyicyambu, one of the most popular gospel singers in Rwanda, spent 2022 on the road promoting his sound on different continents. This year he performed in Israel for the first time during his tour dubbed ‘Twende-Jerusalem’ which reached different cities including; Tel Aviv, Carmel and Jerusalem. The artiste performed in Zimbabwe before touring Canada in various cities including; Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa. The artist who won an award at IMA2022 is scheduled to launch his next album ‘Icyambu’ on December 25, at the BK Arena.