GFK has always killed organic beats: in 11 studio albums he’s dominated Al Green samples and hookups with future-jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD, and he hands Brooklyn soul revivalists the Revelations full production duties on 36 Seasons.
He lets the trio loose and its warm soul vibes give tracks like “Here I Go Again” a beautiful ’60s groove. It’s a gift and a curse, depending on if you want to hear the Wu-Tang legend’s rhymes or an up-and-coming soul outfit.
He brings his storytelling rhyme style, accompanied by fellow NYC rappers Kool G Rap and AZ. The three MCs weave a narrative of Tony Starks, GFK’s superhero alter-ego, returning to Staten Island after nine years away to find his girlfriend with another man and his block overrun with violence and racist police. Murder and mayhem ensue: Starks ends up with a mask after a chemical explosion, à la his buddy and collaborator DOOM.
But this record simply needs more Ghostface: he’s absent on four full tracks. 36 Seasons is solid East Coast hip hop, but it’s not essential.