BBNG seem the perfect fit as a live band for Ghost; in the past they have successfully provided the instrumentation for a number of notorious rappers, including Odd Future member’s Tyler The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. As well as this, they have released three incredible albums in their own right, most recently 2014’s III. As one would expect from a group of such considerable talent, their elegant jazz instrumentation on Sour Soul does not disappoint, and their arrangements on this record are truly exceptional. They juxtapose Ghost’s fast-paced rhymes laced with references to pimping and gang-life perfectly, and the fusion of the two artists sounds classy as hell, especially on tracks such as Ray-Gun and Food.
The list of guest rappers on this album is a particular highlight. Six Degrees sees Danny Brown spit a verse that exemplifies his signature nasal, high-pitched style perfectly. His appearance also seems to spur on Ghost to deliver one of his best verses on the record, where he paints a picture of the life as a pimp as melancholic and dangerous. On the track Gunshowers, BBNG’s backing track of a guitar solo of multiple string-bends and eerie strumming swoons through your ears as Elzhi delivers a verse with a fantastic flow of dark and brooding lyrics and brilliant rhymes. Some of Ghost’s verses feel a bit lazy in comparison to that of the guest rapper’s. For example, on Street Knowledge, he continuously states “Food for thought”. This line seems to be used just to fill gaps in his verses and grows tiresome as you move towards the end of the song.
Despite the occasional laziness of Ghost’s delivery and verses, Sour Soul is certainly the best of his three solo albums featuring live bands. This is due more to the brilliance of BBNG and the verses of guest rappers such as M.F. Doom, Danny Brown, and Elzhi than the talents of Ghost himself though. Nonetheless, this album sees two fantastic artists coming together to produce a fine example of hip-hop produced with real instruments.