HIP-HOP is a genre which has been built upon both collaboration and innovation. Ever since its formative years during which DJ Kool Herc mixed a plethora of records in strange time signatures to create a fresh and captivating sound, it is has never been adverse to venturing into uncharted territory.

A product of the accessible and inclusive nature of its modern day landscape, Toronto jazz trio BadBadNotGood have saw themselves shift dramatically from an act paying homage to a genre that they loved to fully-fledged and esteemed members of its illustrious ranks. Initially reinvigorating tracks from other artists in their own unique style before beginning to compose original material, they have both worked with and gained the respect of many throughout rap’s storied past and present.

Enlisting the peerless talents of Wu Tang royalty Ghostface Killah during an extremely fruitful period in his career, they have delivered an excellent collaborative LP that sees them adopting a myriad of styles and melding them into succinct hip-hop tracks that are sure to be some of the most groundbreaking of the year.

Beginning with the atmospheric bass line and splashy cymbals of instrumental piece ‘Mono’, its luscious tone sets the stage for an album which is cinematic in nature.

Led by shimmering strings and discordant bursts of guitar, title track ‘Sour Soul’ sees the listener enraptured by the incredible lyricism and references of the man often referred to as ‘Tony Stark.’ His willingness to subvert in such a direct manner from his grimey roots as part of Staten Island’s most revered crew is to be admired, particularly during a stage of his career in which many rappers would be content with the occasional feature on a buzzworthy MC’s album.  He rhymes with the eloquence of an elder statesman, spitting bars such as’ Diamond water, I’ve been splashed with the fountain of youth, had a molar fall out, I grew in a gold tooth’ in a nonchalant and placid fashion.

‘Six Degrees‘ sees the Canadians evoking a g funk groove whilst maintaining their jazzy sensibilities whilst  GFK and underground darling Danny Brown trade succinct verses. With Brown and the Wu Tang stalwart both on egotistical form as they proclaim themselves to be visionaries and gangsters in equal measure,  the track culminates in a spirited interlude which sees the band on incredibly inventive form.

Beginning with driven percussion and odd guitar strains, ‘Gunshowers’ captures the listener’s attention and continues to do whilst Ghostface raps in an aggressive manner reminiscent of his style upon Fishscale standout ‘Be Easy’.

Enabling the listener time to recover from GFK’s aural assault, ‘Starks Reality’ follows; taking the shape of a  string led composition that wouldn’t have been out of place upon a Kanye West record during his orchestral  ‘Late Registration’ period.

the laid back ‘Tone’s Rap’ sees the ageing rapper demonstrate that his lyrics can still be every bit as venom laden as any young pretender, whilst ‘Mind Playing Tricks’ features an incredibly intricate hook that any backpacker MC would be envious of.

Without a doubt the album’s standout track, ‘Ray Gun’ features the incomparable MF DOOM whose unique and pioneering production has influenced BBNG’s take upon the genre. Alongside a beat which could have been plucked from his expansive catalogue, the masked MC provides a riotous verse that features a hefty dosage of his signature wordplay.

Not to be outshined by his revered guest, the Staten Island native depicts himself as a hip hop superhero; stating ‘Me and DOOM heading down to the range to shoot in the matrix, catch bullets with my hands and teeth I break faces. Neatly transitioning into a thundering instrumental outro, BBNG once again create a vivid sound driven by grandiose horns and percussion.

the mellow ‘Food’ sees Ghostface in an authoritative mindset and making subtle nods to his body of work within the legendary Wu Tang Clan, whilst album closer ‘Experience’ allows the trio’s exceptional musical synergy to shine through.

In summary, Sour Soul is an album which not only manages to reassert Ghostface Killah as one of the most crucial artists to remain relevant from the golden era; it also dispels any concern that BadBadNotGood are one trick ponies who are content to mimic as opposed to establishing a new school of thought pertaining to hip hop production. An album that would’ve been inconceivable earlier in Ghosface’s career, it is hard not to deem such an incredibly  enjoyable and ambitious album as an early contender for the finest rap record of the year.