The Ghostface Killah has one of the strongest discographies in hip-hop, and with Sour Soul, it continues to develop. Given his recent analog instrumentals kick, an LP with Toronto jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD might seem like a match made in heaven, but their recent collaboration is more of a missed connection.
It’s never a good sign when a rap record rides on its features, but Detroit emcees steal the stage early on. “Six Degrees” is the most distinct advancement Ghost makes, propelled by a frenetic and brilliant Danny Brown verse. Elzhi swings by with his own energy to bless “Gunshowers.” And a goofy Doom appearance adds intrigue to what could be an unremarkable Side B.
The problem is that Ghost doesn’t have much to rap about. He’s one the greatest storytellers in hip-hop, but instead of an artful narrative, he rehashes tired boasts over the eclectic instrumentation, as on “Tone’s Rap” (“I got a main bitch, a side bitch, two in between/ nah mean?”) This dude is just too old, and too good, to get a pass for basic bars. His superhero-getting-revenge narrative gave him plenty of ammunition on the great 12 Reasons to Die, yet here he offers nuggets of wisdom that are really just platitudes (“Make peace not war, make babies some more/ Keep a smile when you travel from shore to shore”).
BADBADNOTGOOD are the real winners here; the instrumental closer, “Experience” is a highlight. As for Ghost, any disappointment is a result of the tremendous potential this collaboration promised. At the end of the day, this is no Fishscale, or even a 12 Reasons, but it’s a fun and worthwhile victory lap following Ghostface Killah’s prior success with Wutang Clan.