BadBadNotGood and Ghostface Killah
Sour Soul (to be released Feb. 24, 2015)
Just two months after Ghostface Killah blessed us with his 36 Seasons album, he delivers another gem.
We are not worthy.
And just like his most recent offerings, Ghost is bringing along some new friends.
Ghost’s last two concept pieces, 36 Seasons and Twelve Reasons to Die, pushed his sound in new directions — thanks to production from talents like The Revelations and Adrian Younge. That evolution continues on Sour Soul, which pairs rap’s most compelling lyricist with BadBadNotGood, a Toronto band that blends jazz and hip hop.
The partnership produces a different sound from Ghost’s 36 Chambers heyday — the jazzy opener “Mono” is more Robert Glasper than RZA — but it’s remains a perfect fit. The live instrumentation is a great setting for Ghost’s infamous barbs. On the title track, Pretty Tone breathes ether: “Chest boards and sword, alphabetical darts/My clan is Bravehart, y’all move like Paul Blart, sloppy.”
BBNG and GFK are joined by an impressive collection of spitters as well. Although I still find his delivery very distracting, Danny Brown’s contribution to “Six Degrees” is solid. Elzhi and DOOM on “Gunshowers” and “Ray Gun,” respectfully, prove to be more cohesive tag team partners.
On “Gunshowers” Ghost and Elzhi are clearly try to one-up each other. As soon as Ghost hits us with this:
I bust boundaries son, you just do what you’re taught
My vocab is powerful, spit s*** subliminal
Slang therapist, my whole style is criminal
Bugged like Bob Digital, fly visual
Elzhi responds in kind:
If you hit the rock bottom of the asphalt, that’s likely your a** fault
My lines are cocaine, the flow is bath salt
I’m a for-sure Don, no one in your circle can box me
That’s like an oxymoron
“Ray Gun” picks up the pace (and the insanity), with DOOM and Ghost shooting lazer beams at the firing range, catching bullets in their teeth. As usual with those two, their imaginations runs wild.
I’ve been talking a lot about Ghostface’s bars, but don’t think that BBNG takes a back seat. They’re more than just GFK’s canvas, they’re an integral part of the picture. On “Tone’s Rap,” their instrumentals slow to a crawl as Ghost dons the robe (and role) of a pimp. You can just picture Toney slow-rolling down the avenue. And their instrumental album closer, “Experience” is an amazing outro. The powerful horns and soaring strings sound like a 21st century Shaft theme.
Sour Soul is a fun, albeit abbreviated romp. It runs just a little over 30 minutes — it really leaves the listener yearning for more. With a few additional tracks, this could have be a contender for one of Ghostface’s best releases. We really need more from this partnership.
But at the rate Ghost has been dropping these collabo albums, we’ll likely hear from him again soon. And again, the results will be fire.
Best tracks: “Gunshowers,” “Ray Gun,” “Experience”
4 stars out of 5