Album Review – ‘Sour Soul’ by BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah

BADBADNOTGOOD have made leaps and bounds since coming together in 2010. The Toronto jazz trio first gained popularity after their ‘Odd Future Session’ videos, which eventually caught the attention of artists like Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean. Three albums in before this latest release, they’ve aptly shown their flair for reinterpreting jazz, their ability to build up tracks before crashing down in waves of synths, basses and eclectic drums is one rarely seen or felt in the genre.

However, if you’re looking for that kind of stuff, Sour Soul won’t please you. That’s my main criticism, if you could even call it that, since it’s clear that’s not what they’re going for with this album. They’re meant to be providing a nostalgic backbone for Ghostface Killah (of Wu-Tang fame) and his aggressive deliveries, they’re meant to be in the background whilst seasoned veteran Ghostface Killah steals the show, but it simply isn’t the case. BADBADNOTGOOD shines extremely bright on this album, probably even brighter than Ghostface himself, who, although is impressive, is not up to form when compared to the featured rappers on the album.

It’s almost as if Ghostface doesn’t fully go for it until he’s got another MC to challenge him on the track – Danny Brown continues his hot streak on ‘Six Degrees’, his comic rapping style providing a strange juxtaposition that works well, behind a guitar led riff which has been layered with reverb and subtle drum changes adding changes of pace throughout the song. MF Doom steals the show on ‘Ray Gun’, a lyrical standoff between two talented rappers as BADBADNOTGOOD play a jazz-funk infused lounge backing track behind it all – the organ could have been a grating addition, but it’s placed well within the production itself by producer Frank Dukes, resulting in a backing track that works well in giving that superhero show vibe that the pair use in their lyrics often.

Whilst featuring musicians do a great job (Thomas Brenneck’s slide guitar addition to ‘Gunshowers’ stuck out to me in particular), the instrumentals, albeit strangely placed within the album, show what BADBADNOTGOOD can do (though not to the extent we hear on their previous album) – brass heavy ‘Experience’ closes out the album smoothly, the strings coming to the fore towards the end, and the percussion is tight yet dynamic enough to show you that the band has flair.

Some may be disappointed with this album, perhaps simply due to extremely high expectations, but BADBADNOTGOOD have managed to blur the lines between genres convincingly once again whilst still maintaining their signature sound, the punchy drums the driving force throughout the album. This album may have suffered had it not been for the slew of featured rappers, but Ghostface  Killah gives just enough to makes us want more, the narrative and pop-culture references still a plenty.

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

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