It is amazing to see how far Badbadnotgood have come in just a few short years. Humbly beginning as a hip-hop cover band with a jazz twist, their initial covers of and subsequent endorsements from Tyler, the Creator and MF DOOM brought them to the attention of the rap community. This collaborative record with Ghostface Killah assures us that their days of being a YouTube cover band are well and truly over, and that their sound has progressed into something truly to behold.
It surprised many when this album was announced, but Ghostface is known for being Wu Tang Clan’s hardest working member, so it is no surprise that he wants to experiment with his production. After all, this is his fourth release since A Better Tomorrow in November. He most certainly has no shortage of the gritty, sometimes emotional raps that we have grown accustomed to. ‘6 Degrees’ & ‘Tone’s Rap’ are as engaging as anything else we’ve heard from Ghost, as he captivates the listener with an exaggerated delivery on the latter. His descriptive rhymes meld with the cinematic production, creating tracks that have character and structure, two elements missing on some of his more forgettable albums.
Despite the Wu veteran at the helm and the various guests that pop up (Danny Brown, DOOM), it is Badbadnotgood that shine the most on Sour Soul. They prove they can make grimy hip-hop loops that would make even RZA envious (‘Gunshowers’). However, they can also create a sound that is fuller than that of the production on the average hip hop album. The breakdown at the end of ‘Ray Gun’ magnifies their sound to grand proportions with striking brass, resulting in a brief glimpse of something that wouldn’t sound out of place of on a James Bond soundtrack.
As a whole Sour Soul is an anomaly. Both artists have somehow created a consistent and timeless hip hop/jazz album. Sure both genres have always had extremely close ties, but Badbadnotgood are on their way to becoming the pinnacle of the mixture of the two sounds. They will make themselves a commodity in hip-hop if they can continue to provide such a unique sound for artists. Becoming rap’s most sought after band, after the Roots, shouldn’t be hard for them. I suppose someone has to fill the Tonight Show slot eventually.