The Big Tun-ie Awards – By Clay Napurano and Henry Wicks
The Grammy awards have come and gone, and many people who listen to music in their spare time as opposed to just in the grocery store, are justifiably underwhelmed. So the up-and-coming WBRS radio show duo, BIG TUNA, have decided to take it upon themselves to create their own music award for the greatest album of 2022 on our quest to find the hottest take, and THE big tuna.
Below are our nominations and personal picks:
There Will Be No Super Slave / Ghais Guevera
Dragon New Mountain I Believe in You / Big Thief
CAPRISONGS / FKA Twigs
Melt My Eyez See Your Future / Denzel Curry
And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow / Weyes Blood
RENAISSANCE / Beyoncé
Myopia / Mizmor, Thou
23 April 2022
Genre: Atmospheric/Blackened Sludge Metal
I was blown away by plenty of music in 2022, and plenty of that music went on to dominate the Album of the Year™ conversation – Big Thief, Billy Woods, Weyes Blood, Denzel Curry, MJ Lendernan, Soul Glo, Florist, et cetera et cetera blah blah blah. Many of these records entered heavy rotation for me (did I mention Big Thief?), but that’s not what we’re here to discuss. I love some indie-folk-Americana just as much as the next beanie-wearing college student with a semi-apparent mustache, but I’ve been tasked with delivering a truly scalding take today, so that is what I will do.
The best album of 2022 was not released by any of the aforementioned artists, rather it crawled, shrieking, from a charred ditch somewhere in the vicinity of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If this album were a word it would be despair, and if it were a dish it would be a scorched human femur. I am referring to Myopia, a joint effort from Thou and Mizmor, two remarkably forward-thinking acts from the intimately related domains of sludge and black metal, respectively. As a devout fan of grindcore, drone, and every grisly shade between, I can confidently say that both contributors share something too often left by the wayside when it comes to extreme metal: a knack for melody.
Don’t get the wrong idea, Myopia is a desolate, grinding wail of an album, but one that deftly balances musicality with sheer devastation. Throughout its 73-minute runtime – as Thou’s Bryan Funck and Mizmor’s A.L.N. (the band’s lone, mysterious, member) trade agonizing screams, and as tremolo-picked dirges wash over bone-crushing walls of guitar – a stark, sorrowful melody will occasionally surface, making an already cathartic experience even more so.
Fortunately for anyone looking to brave this album, its first and shortest track, “Prefect”, serves as a sampler of the journey to come. “Prefect” begins with a passage of fairly by-the-book black metal – shrieked vocals, blast beats, and a blanket of tremolo guitar. As it approaches the three-minute mark, however, the song opens into an expansive melodic portion, before slowing even further as a monolithic, sludgy riff overtakes the final half of its duration. Myopia is my favorite metal release of the 2020s thus far, and by a wide margin. Every single aspect of this album is perfectly executed, from sublime sludge riffage to gut-wrenching vocals – even the oft-indiscernible lyrics are conceptually coherent and antiquely poetic, frequently sounding as if they were lifted straight from scripture.
If you are like me, then I probably don’t have to explain why the elements above make this my pick. If you are like me, you will finish the lumbering and (dare I say…?) beautiful 11-minute closer “The Root”, and find yourself alone in a vast, unfamiliar wasteland, battered and shivering, yet having profoundly enjoyed the experience. If you aren’t sold I will venture one more explanation. Myopia is like Punisher if Phoebe Bridgers was even more depressed, had only ever read the bible, was actively passing a kidney stone, and the whole thing was backed by the sound of your heart being torn in two about halfway through “Moon Song” amplified by Sunn O)))’s live rig at maximum volume. In other words, they both made me cry.
There Will Be No Super Slave
16 July 2022
Genre: Alternative Hip Hop/Rap
The non-negotiable best album of 2022 (according to Clay) is this self-released masterpiece from Philly native and Twitter legend, Ghais Guevera. His 44 minute project with no skips and bangers only spans many different samples, titles, and bars all for the purpose of coping with his black and Muslim identity in the context of an incredibly racist American society and historically dangerous space for black entertainment.
He employs samples from across the spheres of internet culture, news, and journalism. I almost felt like I was listening to my leftist friend scroll through their Tik Tok or the feed on a r/Blackpower page. His frenetic sampling, which decorates the soundscapes that he creates for every track, strikingly frames his messages of action and rebellion. Somewhat like Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys or early Das Racist- Guevera’s use of samples is unpredictable and lends to the drama and on-your-toes feel of his music.
Guevara’s titles are a source of hard-hitting social commentary and shock-value with track titles such as “I Personally Wouldn’t Have Released John McCain,” “This Ski Mask Ain’t for COVID,” and of course “Patrisse Cullors Stole My Lunch Money.”
“Patrisse Cullors Stole My Lunch Money,” refers to the founder of the BLM movement, of which Guevera is quite critical. Especially during the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter marches and George Floyd murder protests had strong potential for revolution over the status quo, but to many including Guevera, they fizzled out.
He raps that his girl is “more bougie than BLM” and that he witnessed protesters standing around like a deer in headlights on the streets during marches like a “diversity hire.” Although he was “itching to cause a riot” because of the serious institutional injustices in America, the BLM movement simply didn’t do it for him because of its capitalist underpinnings. He expresses this not only through the song title, and his lyrics, but through the masterful use of a beat switch. Gosh this beat switch was stunningly good. My jaw dropped the first fifty times I heard it.
Guevera led me up a mountain with the intro and suddenly threw me off a cliff right one hundred yards down into a suburban Philadelphia Black Lives Matter protest, with trademarked lawn signs, novelty speakers playing Bruno Mars, and mostly white moms in attendance. He jolts from a slow grindy almost-grunge-inspired beat to sampling the sexy, smooth, and corporatized disco sound of “After Last Night” off of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars’s Silk Sonic. Both BLM and Silk Sonic showcase the dangers of attempting to sanitize blackness for a white liberal audience, which Guevera points out through this song’s juxtaposition.
Guevara expertly draws parallels between the slick corporate sheen of a musical project dedicated to repackaging black music for mass consumption, and the blunting of a radical movement into one that catered to the very same white, liberal audience.
On “C.R.B,” Guevera flexes his literary prowess as possibly the best rapper making social commentary music right now. Just take a couple of these bars in.
“Green thumbs close community gates
When indigenous sentences
Bend the whip and the eloquence starts
Everybody loves the sunshine
Couldn’t get a taste with the smog”
“Disciples of Hoover
On disciples of Hoover”
“Canon cameras should catch the cannons
They tote for foreigners
Bar for bar, take for take, Guevara bats a thousand.
Environmentalism inherently distracts from institutional racism. The FBI (J-Edgar Hoover) is murdering groups of black people organized in order to protect themselves from institutionalized racism (52 Hoover Gang Crips). Perhaps the only way to cast off the shackles of a legacy of slavery is revolution. Whether or not one agrees with Guevera, it is striking just how eloquently he shapes his beliefs within the context of a sampled-to-perfection beat.
This album is excellent, but what really makes this album great is the huge universe of bars, samples, and references that Guevera establishes. Right alongside some of the greatest revolutionary social commentary in rap music history, he casually unloads expertly schemed Spongebob Squarepants references in his trademark gritty, sarcastic style of vocal delivery.
“Killas tote guns
Was never down with the fencin
Guevara is an absolute gem of an artist and deserves recognition for crafting his entire musical experience, from the jaw-dropping beats, to the lyrics, and even the distribution of his own physical albums. This man is a force to be reckoned with. There Will Be No Super-Slave is a hard hitting masterpiece that might just help start the revolution.