Print Edition: March 18, 2015
Sour Soul, a collaborative album between jazz / instrumental hip-hop band BadBadNotGood and Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, seamlessly blends smooth, refined, hip-hop-influenced jazz tracks with Ghost’s trademark storytelling. Over 12 tracks, three of which are instrumentals, Ghost and BBNG exemplify the better of two (seemingly) different worlds. A deviation from the more drum-heavy and in-your-face production that Ghost usually opts for, the instrumentals on Sour Soul complement his clear and straightforward flow. Sour Soul sees Ghost deliver an impressive amount of introspective rhymes, giving the listener incredibly detailed and visual narratives through a stream-of-consciousness delivery.
If ever the need existed for a record to play in the background of an upscale dinner party hosted by someone whose musical tastes were developed in early ‘90s New York, then Sour Soul is a direct response to that necessity. “Six Degrees,” which features Danny Brown, is reminiscent of the style of production used heavily by RZA throughout Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), so it comes as no surprise to see how well Ghost fits in with the instrumentals. As an ominous guitar is picked, building tension throughout, Ghost delivers some of his most passionate verses in recent memory. Somehow (and seemingly defying reason), Danny Brown feels right at home next to Ghost. “Tone’s Rap,” a mellower track, sees Ghost take on a more sombre tone and cadence; the track sounds virtually unlike most hip-hop tracks, and more like spoken-word poetry delivered over a jazz backing band.
Ghost shines on “Gunshowers,” letting loose and rapping (in a surprisingly emotional tone) over an instrumental that’s a cross between jazz and the soundtrack to a kung-fu film. Overall, the 12-track LP shows the breadth of not only Ghostface but the members of BBNG as well, and makes for a more than enjoyable listen.