It's a bold move for a member of the Wu-Tang Clan to name a solo album after "36" of anything. But Ghostface Killah's "36 Seasons" is much more than an allusion to his group's beloved 1993 album, "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)." It's an urgent, soulfully steely album of hip-hop unconcerned with the genre's current twists into pop structures and woozy electronics.
Recorded with the Brooklyn production crew and live band the Revelations, "36 Seasons" rides a tight mix of live and digitally treated instrumentation that conjures up the '70s soul of Ghostface's youth and the '90s boom-bap rap of his career's ascent.
Despite the messiness around Wu-Tang's latest comeback album, "A Better Tomorrow," Ghost sounds invigorated on solo cuts like "Love Don't Live Here No More" and "Emergency Procedure." He drops listeners into a Staten Island filled with many of the same struggles he documented on "36 Chambers" — malignant authority, economic neglect and a simmering need for justice (or vengeance) among them. In the wake of the Staten Island death of Eric Garner, one of the borough's finest musicians is still keeping watch on the city.
Two and a half stars