Sour Soul by Ghostface Killah x BadBadNotGood

Kevin Nash
February 28, 2015







Lex Records, Kingsway Records Inc.



Out of the many rap styles, personality and flows, two that have always stuck out in my mind as unique, underrated, infectious, melodic, and fresher than respect are Method Man and Ghostface Killah. Today we’re here to explore the new sounds of the latter, Sour Soul, with BADBADNOTGOOD.

The roots of Rap music resides in the spaces of blues, jazz, funk, soul and rhythm and blues while also gaining much of its influence from the streets; the kids on the corner block, the game, the hustle. When these elements are put together correctly they create something pure, infectious, and stuck in an always relatable vacuum – a diary of sorts where the words on the paper and the sounds of the instrumentation evoke a sense of nostalgia while alluding to the future. Despite the rough bumps that occur throughout Sour Soul, with a live instrumental backing, this is a valid effort presented by prolific rapper Ghostface Killah and instrumental jazz outfit BADBADNOTGOOD.

The intro to Sour Soul is an instrumental tune titled, “Mono,” with a deep melodic ominous dark minor feel that sets the tone for what you should expect – a balance of 60's and 70's style jazz and blues influenced beats. The outtake at the end of the intro foreshadows the mission of this record, the shit you didn’t know about Ghost, he’s about to get it off his chest. That he does, without hesitation in the next song, the title track, “Sour Soul”. As he starts right off the third, “Yo / Cleanse me, clean me of my sour soul I’m vicious.” As a Wu faithful, it’s refreshing to once again hear not only the flow of one of the most prolific rappers in the game but also go back to a place in time where the words had definition, the rhymes had a purpose.

The instrumental beats provided by BADBADNOTGOOD are filled with variant influences of blues, disco jazz, funk, and Shaolin style. The beats are far from left and could stand alone as an EP. They're precise, weirdly off tone, yet in key instrumentals is the sugar to Ghost’s Mountain Dew. Throughout most of the album, you forget that these beats were not formulated by a computer, which makes it all the more unique. Together, along with collaborations from artists such as Danny Brown, Elzhi, DOOM, and Tree, they create a sound “that push boundaries” while others are simply “doing what they’re taught.” Just listen to the “Stark Reality” transition into “Tone’s Rap”. The late on time mellow, drag pimp cane rhythm mixes too well with Ghostface Killah’s slouch riding hard hitting flow along with the instrumental climax at the end. It’s cooler than Freddy Jackson drinking a milkshake in a snowstorm with Al Green who’s got a pimp on lean.

The album bounces around various themes mainly revolving around the continual daily struggle, but with an uplifting tone showing the evolution of Ghostface as an individual; switching his role from the participant to the educator. It’s a duality that he seems to be battling. It’s a duality that we all battle, balancing the old life with the new. It’s in this struggle that gives meaning to the lyrical content in Sour Soul, but it’s also within this struggle in correlation with consistent instrumentation that at times the album can be a bit monotonous. At times, you get lost in the carefully structured rhymes because they fall into a similar rhythmic pattern as the song before. If you’re not a careful listener, it’s easy to lose your place.

Nevertheless, As Ghost states in “Sour Soul,” “They say critical, I say nigga I’m on top of my pinnacle.” His new age whit combined with his unwavering skillful Shaolin style along with the talented instrumentals of BADBADNOTGOOD presents a much-needed breath of fresh air in today’s rap music.


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