Quite often when we write these lists, we’ll half-complain about how much of a struggle it is and woe-is-me-I’ve-been-tearing-my-hair-out, but the truth is this process was actually the most fun it’s ever been this year.

A big part of that is how diverse music has been in 2022. Diversity, to some extent, has always been a defining feature of the UK music scene, but unlike previous years where grime or drill or Afroswing has dominated with only a handful of other genres in their wake, this year, pretty much everything was on equal footing.

We’ve had world-beating pop, Afropop, R&B, UK rap, UK drill, grime, dancehall, trap and more all vying for contention. And, in some cases, we’ve had more than one of those on the same album. Stormzy, for example, returned with a masterful third album, This Is What I Mean, that slipped gospel, soul, Afrobeats, and rap on to the same record—and it still made sense. Although it was a tight-run race, Stormzy’s album was probably the biggest talking point of the year, having fine-tuned the gospel-rap experiments of Gang Signs… and Heavy Is The Head.

But that doesn’t mean it was necessarily the best, at least in our eyes. Other contenders for that title include Knucks, who balanced cinematic and homespun storytelling to cement his place at rap’s top table with Alpha Place; then there’s drill don K-Trap, who hit two career highs with The Last Whip II and a long-awaited collab mixtape in Joints with Blade Brown; there’s also Asake, who took the world by storm with Mr. Money With The Vibe; and finally, Little Simz shocked us all with NO THANK YOU, a last-minute, surprise LP steered once again by production auteur Inflo.

Check out the albums we were loving the most in 2022 below, and to read and hear more, just click through the links.