Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ghostfunk-Max Tannone

Mashup DJ Max Tannone does not put out singles of two songs teased and twisted together, unlike mashups DJ's.  He puts out albums worked around a central concept and–unlike every other person that has done that since the dawn of time–it works.  Every time.  It does not work because of shock value, or because it has a punny title–it is just good music, and Tannone leaves you scratching your head and wondering why hip-hop legend and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah didn't do this himself.

His newest offering, Ghostfunk, does not fail to disappoint, pairing rare cuts of Afrobeat, African psychedelic rock, and rhythm and blues from Ghana and South Africa with Ghostface songs from throughout his career.   It is anything but smooth, as Ghost's high insistent notes are mirrored by the hard angular African rhythms, just as Mos Def's West Indian tones were brought out by reggae in Mos Dub, Tannone's previous album.  Ghostface always sort of sounds like a teary-eyed boy trying to get himself out of trouble, and the instrumentation in Ghostfunk emphasizes his wobbly high timbre and pushes it forward to its breaking point. In "Make It N.Y.", Ghost comes out swinging at his most agitated and insecure, and the high synths carry his voice up and up as his flow gets tighter and tighter until it finally breaks into the chorus, as if the Ironman is too emotional to continue.  

Unfortunately, none of the other MC's on the record (AZ, Cappadonna, Raekwon, and the Notorious B.I.G.) have voices as operatic, and their rhymes, however classic, sound fundamentally unchanged by the African instrumentation, bringing flat lines to the landscape when Ghostface brings wild brushstrokes and jabs of color.  However, Ghostfunk is still a good successor to Mos Dub, and Tannone proves that mashups are not simple derivations of original songs, they are works in themselves and can be more than the sum of their parts.

Ghostfunk by Max Tannone
blog comments powered by Disqus