It is near impossible to talk about Ghostface Killah‘s 36 Seasons without talking about Wu-Tang‘s latest album, A Better Tomorrow. Released a week apart, the two albums show the good and the bad of the iconic group. So often where A Better Tomorrow failed, 36 Seasons capitalizes.
Unlike A Better Tomorrow which seemed to focus too heavily on obvious soul samples, Ghostface worked extensively on the album with The Revelations–an actual soul band. This leads to some serious superhero music which is perfect to continue the evolution of his Tony Stark persona. Tracks like the Pharoahe Monch featuring “Emergency Procedure” scores big points with its bongo drum line, horn bleats, and electric guitar vamps.
While its great to hear Ghostface soaring as Iron Man, he also indulges in a little of the Ghostdini love fest that has peppered his recent albums. “Love Don’t Live Here No More” which is one of a few tracks to feature Kandace Springs is a soulful jam complete with finger snaps and “oooh” backing vocals. The track might be better than anything that appeared on the actual Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City album.
While the greatness of the album feels pretty apparent, there are some odd decisions. The Revelation perform a mid-album cover of the Persuaders’ “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” Ghostface does not appear on the track and the track doesn’t necessarily move the story along any. Similarly Ghostface is noticeable absent from “Loyalty” which features Kool G Rap and Nems performing over the Revelations-produced beat and Kandace Springs’ solo track “Bamboo’s Lament.” While both those tracks do advance the story, it feels a bit odd for there to be multiple tracks on the album where the headlining is no where to be seen.
Despite not featuring Ghostface, the tracks don’t seem all that out of place; they still feature the same soulful production that permeates the album. The tracks that do feature Ghostface are some of his strongest in recent memories. In the end, 2014 should be known as the year Ghostface released 36 Seasons not the year Wu Tang released their latest disappointment.