BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul [Album Review]

Sour Soul Album Photograph
Sour Soul Album Photograph

Mono gets the album rolling with an air of calm about it. In contrast, Sour Soul the album’s title track, is fast paced. With references to Ghostface Killah’s Iron Man derived pseudonym Tony Starks, ‘I’m iron man, a stone faced killer with a mask’, the song is filled to the brim with witty lyricism.

The musical backdrop provided by the Canadian trio shows how Hip Hop might have been had it been sparked in a 60s Jazz Club by virtuoso instrumentalists. But perhaps it’s just as well that there’s still so much that this now ageing genre has yet to explore.

‘Brag about 2 chains, 4 chains, 6 chains’ is one of the punchlines in Six Degrees, a song containing as aggressive lyrical content as any other ever penned by the former Wu Tang mainstay. Danny Brown provides a stark contrast with his higher pitched voice, whilst managing to fit into the ‘aggressive’ manner of the song.

Gunshowers is a guitar driven song with more of a blues-rock feel to it and an ever-progressive melody. Ghostface’s raw vocal performance is flawless, whilst seemingly never stopping to take a breather. Stark’s Reality pays homage to Ghostface’s pseudonym, Tony Starks, which is based off Iron Man’s civilian identity Tony Stark.

Tone’s Rap is a snail paced, drum driven and slightly euphoric song. Ghostface, a seasoned veteran, shows no signs of staleness with a fitting and dynamic vocal delivery. In a short, yet definitive song, BADBADNOTGOOD show just exactly why they are on the fast and narrow to musical success.

This album doesn’t attempt to stick to any stringent concept or move in a pinpoint direction. In fact it appears to do quite the opposite. With a growing list of prominent collaborations and remixes, especially with well known Hip Hop and RnB performers (Danny Brown, Frank Ocean) it seems as though the trio are on the precipice of a massive surge in popularity.

Ray Gun is one of the more notable collaborations, featuring another legendary and comic book inspired rapper, DOOM. A brief Brass melody and string motifs are sprawled through out this number.

A brilliant album by any account of the word, Sour Soul delivers on more than one front. The musical backdrop is both versatile and allows BADBADNOTGOOD to draw upon their Jazz background. ‘Food’ is a more recollective and sentimental offering, ‘Them light as the sun, the sun is the father’. The music is fittingly melancholic and expressive, with a subtle display of dynamism through its use of brief staccato’s and motifs spanning a repetitive melody.

Just as it began, so it ends, with a solely instrumental offering in Experience. Cymbals and a strong bass fuel the rhythm, whilst a staccato guitar sits in the backdrop until a brass driven melody takes centre stage for the remainder of the song.

Sour Soul manages to balance BADBADNOTGOOD’s polished instrumentalism with Ghostface Killah’s conceptual lyrics and gritty vocal performances. Though performing on most songs, the album does have it’s more quiet moments in which Ghostface is not featured at all and BADBADNOTGOOD are allowed to take centre stage and showcase their musical acumen.

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