Published Mar 06, 2015Toronto's BADBADNOTGOOD have just recently released Sour Soul, an album made in collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah. It showcases Ghost expanding on his penchant for explorative, maybe (for him) unorthodox musical takes, which furthers his self-described "second wave" of musical output comfortably into his twilight years, while also serving as something of a distraction to the turbulent present of the Wu dynasty.
But how did a veteran rapper from the now-slippery but still legendary Wu-Tang Clan come together with a three-piece jazz ensemble composed of members barely into their 20s?
Chester Hansen, BADBADNOTGOOD's bass player, says it was Toronto producer Frank Dukes, who contributed to Eminem's Grammy-winning The Marshall Mathers LP 2 that sparked the idea.
"He was the catalyst for its inception," Hansen tells Exclaim! "We met [Dukes] at our first show in Toronto about four years ago, at Red Light. In the months following, we did a few sessions."
A working relationship grew, and Dukes invited the band — hot off the buzz of a few sessions with Odd Future's Tyler, the Creator — to Dunham Studios in New York. At the time, Dukes was working on songs for Charles Bradley.
"We went down there and [Dukes] had the idea of us cutting like a bunch of live hip-hop instrumentals with a soul feel," says Hansen. "It was vague at the time, but once we got in there we started knocking stuff out, and it came together really quickly."
Dukes has worked with Ghostface Killah in the past on his 2010 album Apollo Kids and with production credits on songs like Drake's Grammy-nominated track "0 to 100," he knows how to work the locks on hip-hop artists.
"He ended up getting it to Ghostface, and he did some verses on our tracks," Hansen says.
It was a three-year process from the initial email to the final export of Sour Soul. Interestingly, the rapper and band didn't once share any studio time together.
"In this case," Hansen says, "it was a positive thing in the sense that we had the opportunity to redo a lot of things. It gave us the opportunity to do lots of instrumental interludes and let the project flow better all together."
With the project out and a couple very successful, energetic shows with Ghostface, the band have been slowly pushing towards their next full-length.
"We're not sure whether it'll be instrumental or if we're gonna get some features on it," says Hansen.
For now, the band have their eyes on playing SXSW alongside Ghost.