Its always interesting when one of the legends in the rap game switches gears and collaborates with the genre’s up and comers. There is frequently an air of uncertainty over what the project will sound like, and whether one artist will outdo the other. MF DOOM and Bishop Nehru’s NehruvianDOOM last year was very much Nehru taking the stage with DOOM in the background, leading to an imbalance and, for me anyway, a disappointing aspect of an otherwise good album. But Wu-Tang Clan stalwart Ghostface Killah’s collaboration with Canadian jazz and hip-hop band BadBadNotGood, Sour Soul, is something different. Both of their roles are perfectly clear; BadBadNotGood providing the jazzy, improvisational production while Ghostface Killah delivers the lyrical examination. And it goes down exceptionally.
Across 33 minutes, Sour Soul bangs from start to finish. This is music you would hear as a soundtrack to the dopest blaxploitation film you will ever watch. The album’s title track sets the mood for the entire project – a dark but cinematic and adventurous delve into a world created by Ghostface’s bars and BBNG’s musical accompaniment. The time span is probably not enough for the band’s musical concepts to fully develop on each track, which is perhaps the only downside of the project. But BBNG’s production remains consistent throughout and is complemented extremely well by Ghostface’s commanding voice and, while not exploring anything new lyrically, the Staten Island MC does not disappoint. He maintains his witty punchline raps throughout, saying on the title track “They can’t feed me food for thought” – clearly, no one can tell Tony Starks nothing.
Even the songs in which Ghostface is not rapping, such as album opener ‘Mono’, ‘Stark’s Reality’ and album closer ‘Experience’, shine more light on BBNG’s groovy production, showcasing the trio’s capability to complement even the most hard-hitting MC. The album’s features are also a particular highlight. Danny Brown drops a killer verse on the menacing ‘Six Degrees’, Elzhi is in top form on ‘Gunshowers’ and MF DOOM glides through ‘Ray Gun’ in a way only he can.
A great project overall, and one which will hopefully be built on further by Ghostface and BBNG in the near future. 4 STARS