Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge
Twelve Reasons to Die
Ghostface Killah's rep for vivid, cinematic street narratives is well established, but in recent years the potency of his gritty yarns has been diluted by the spotty quality of his output. Twelve Reasons to Die marks a return to form and co-collaborator Adrian Younge is the primary reason why. A multi-instrumentalist and producer who came to create classic soul after knocking beats out on samplers, Younge is an apt foil for Ghostface's rhymes, which have always liberally cribbed from sweeping '70s orchestral soul. Twelve Reasons to Die is an album-length fictional narrative casting Ghost as a drug lord in '60s Italy, who rises with the familial crew the Delucas before breaking out to preside over his operation. Through tracks like the insistent, chest-puffing "Rise of the Black Suits," the opera-tinged "I Declare War" and the theatrical "The Sure Shot (Parts One and Two)," a familiar cycle of rise, fall and unrepentant vengeance unfolds over the album. Consequently, Ghostface's usual penchant for free-associative wordplay is a bit hemmed in by the structure, but he gets plenty of help to ensure the storytelling remains compelling. Cameos from Wu-Tang brethren like Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa and Cappadonna abound, while William Hart (the Delfonics) lends his haunting falsetto to the ominous "Enemies All Around Me." Younge definitely earns his co-pilot status on this project after his recent stellar collaboration with the Delfonics. Obviously inspired by Morricone cinematic scores and archival recording techniques, the live instrumentation Younge fashions is so meticulously arranged and tightly executed that it makes you wonder why Ghostface hadn't explored a project of this kind before. You'll be glad he finally did.
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