Ghostface Killah‘s full-length collaborative album with jazz troupe BadBadNotGood isn’t your standard wine-and-cheese affair. On the impressive Sour Soul, the Canadian trio that built its profile through Odd Future and Gucci Mane covers bangs out rich blaxploitation-invoking live instrumentals, providing a perfect canvas for the Wu-Tang Clan vet’s vivid rhymes about dodging police, jewelry and, oddly enough, yoga.
But it makes sense: As an aging rap sage, Ghost, 44, boldly confronts mortality and maturity and balances them with his signature street grit and goofiness. Fresh off 2014’s superhero concept LP 36 Seasons, Ghost continues pandering to Marvel geeks with the rousing “Ray Gun,” a DOOM-featured stream-of-consciousness speckled with comic motifs. Yet thug motivation pervades throughout the LP, and old habits die hard. “Street Knowledge” lays down block survival dos and don’ts, while the title track finds Ghost pounding his chest (“I’ma murder you, son,” he threatens). Elsewhere, on “Tone’s Rap,” he protests the lint clinging to one of his infamously gaudy robes: “I can’t pimp in these clothes,” he sighs before giving way to spastic drums.
Then, grown-man reality sets in: The healthy-lifestyle PSA “Food” promotes exercise and meditation, while “Nuggets of Wisdom” preaches positivity. Age can wear you down, but Ghost remains as strong as ever.