SOUR SOUL review
Rewind back to October, quirky jazz amigos BADBADNOTGOOD surprised us all with the announcement of a new album featuring the revered veteran Ghostface Killah on every track! What an amazing combination of artistry; we had already gained a little insight into what’s to come from the earlier released single, Six Degrees featuring oddball Danny Brown and the prospect of an entire album of such a polarising musical composition created intrigue and wonder. What raised the stakes even higher was both artists’ track records. Ghostface Killah, being a prominent member of rap super group Wu-tang Clan, had already established a powerful imprint on the surface of hip-hop music at least 5 times over. BADBADNOTGOOD, almost an oxymoron in comparison, have gained steady recognition, earning the attention of various alternate hip-hop artists such as MF DOOM, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler the Creator. But with over 20 bodies of music under his belt, could Ghostface really retain his earnest spirit?
The LP itself is deceptively short, with a running time of a mere 33 minutes, it’s quite frustrating attempting to delve into the murky, jazz- funk swamp that both BBNG and Ghostface have created. By the time you begin to paint the universe, you’re suddenly at the end of the album. The production is ultra-crisp however, some of the best producing they have made for rappers to spit over in fact, notable pieces are the restlessness of Gunshowers and the fantastic crime voyage that is Ray Gun. BADBADNOTGOOD have really honed in on their music style, from their first album, only released 4 years ago to present day, you can see an abundance of growth and maturity. Matched with the experience of Ghostface, someone who knows how to handle an unorthodox beat, there is no doubt that there are songs on here that speak volumes, not just through the sound, but more so in the cohesion and synergy of the artistry.
Problems arise however in Ghostface’s rapping, he seems rather exhausted, although his subject matter remains eerie and outlandish, the rasp of his voice doesn’t quite have the truth and grit that it once did. A trait Ghostface is rather famed for, to stand out even amongst other greats such as Method man and RZA, you have to credit it for the good or the bad. But for this particular body of music, where the featuring rappers all have extremely distinct rapping styles and iconic rhythm schemes, the novelty is not enough to make this an impactful piece of music.
Not to say there aren’t pockets of sheer brilliance, the eponymous track Sour Soul creates the dreary, dystopian war- torn setting in which Ghostface is unfazed by the gathering technological forces, he raps: ‘Steroids in chickens, why they feeding us eggs?/ Zen position with my finger on the trigger.’, naturally, Ghostface’s moody, in your face aggression works wonders here and complements the lofty laden bass from Chester’s guitar. If only this was a consistent trait, literally every feature outshines Ghostface, it’s surprising too, coming from someone that is used to tugging at the mic stand ensuring his voice is heard over his musical comrades.