Just over two years ago when Wu-Tang original Ghostface Killah started to rap over psychedelic live-band music, another chapter of this rapper’s illustrious duration had been opened. When Twelve Reasons To Die dropped Adrian Younge’s melancholy mood and the deliberate vinyl crackle gave Ghosts sharp storytelling ink a compelling parchment. Now additional collaboration with musicians who carry around instrument cases rather than just a microphone, such as Brooklyn funk band The Revelations for 36 Seasons, has led to some of the best Ghostface Killah material anyone has heard for a long time. However, is this becoming a novelty or is he still keeping it fresh? We had to find out.
Toronto jazz/hip hop greats BADBADNOTGOOD seem at first glance as another perfect match for the mood that taken Ghost for the last few years and to be honest, they are. They really do bring that gritty, 70’s basement jazz club sensation, complete with clouds of smoke and Mafioso goons, a sensation that Ghost has been longing for. The real deep bass and live drums allow for a much more atmospherically pleasing sound, these sounds allow for hip hop fans to bob their heads but it also allows for them to be dragged into an R&B-noir tale when Ghost enters.
Speaking of entrances, the way this album open and closes with tracks ‘Mono’ and ‘Experience’ demonstrates the mood this album is trying to set perfectly, colour seems to seep away when it begins. Ghost holds onto that perception with his shadowy and mysterious verses on tracks such as ‘Sour Soul’ and ‘Tone’s Rap’, but to be perfectly honest his storytelling has been healthier even in more recent years, however the tone is no less chilling and still definitely grasps you. With lyrics such as; “The caddy suede is brush, the velvet shirt is crush, the diamonds in my teeth are flush, I’m a fly n__gga, cognac sipper, keep a blade at the tip of my cane for snakes that slither.”
Now an impressive attribute of this venture that will set it aside from recent Ghost projects and generally projects like this is the guest list. Ghost as he has done before has evolved with the ever changing hip hop wind and the features prove this. They are kept contemporary and popular with the continued lights-out rampage streak of Danny Brown on ‘Six Degrees’, even more so with Elzhi punch lining all over all ‘Gunshowers’. The final ingredient is a measured dose of DOOM on ‘Ray Gun’. These embellishments really do make an enormous difference, keeping the idea of Ghostface Killah over psychedelic live-band music innovative and truly stimulating.
It seems that there are those who are growing weary of Ghost and jazz coming together, though we are enjoying it more than ever. This high level of production and the perfectly chosen features are somewhat luxuries at the moment, and still 20 years on Ghostface Killah has a flow fit for the gods, and a story or two to tell. Carry on Tony Stark.