Sour Soul

by: BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah's 2015 collaboration with Toronto jazz/hip-hop trio BadBadNotGood seems to be turning his 2010s work into a themed trilogy, as his 2013 LP, Twelve Reasons to Die, found the Wu-Tang rapper partnering with Adrian Younge for a '70s slasher-themed release, while 2014's 36 Seasons was action movie-inspired and recorded with Brooklyn band the Revelations. Sour Soul is more abstract, as the title track tells the tale of a character that's a cross between Johnny Mnemonic and a pimp, while the music touches upon a wide range of soundtrack styles from the '60s and '70s, including the soft-porny "Stark's Reality," where vibes and strings float about the speakers. "Tone's Rap" is either semi-drunk funk or the sound of a warped Fat Albert record, and to their credit, BadBadNotGood are more soulful than usual, laying down grooves that could complement any adventurous MC. Ghostface certainly lives up to the task, putting in chuckle-worthy punch lines (take "Sour Soul"'s "they can't feed me food for thought") which carry more weight as the LP evolves into something akin to Terry Gilliam's film Brazil on wax. Out of all of Ghostface's recent albums, this one stuns with its features, as MF Doom ("Ray Gun"), Elzhi ("Gunshowers"), and Danny Brown ("Six Degrees") all spit and kick with left-field excellence, but the run-time barely pushes this one past EP territory, and with two better examples dropped in recent memory, Ghostface art excursion number three doesn't come with that surprise punch. In James Bond terms, Sour Soul is the almost addendum-ish Quantum of Solace as it offers adventurous fans the same opportunities for a quick fix while sacrificing a bit of weight. In Toronto jazz terms, it's verygoodgoodnotbad. ~ David Jeffries

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