Ghostface Killah is back and just as captivating as ever with his emotive storytelling, loud delivery and razor sharp flow. Despite a short sequence of songs only lasting about forty minutes, the Adrian Younge-produced Twelve Reasons to Die is an album worthy of classification among Toney’s greats, such as Supreme Clientele, FishScale and the whole bunch.
What one usually expects from a Wu-Tang solo project is essentially guaranteed on Twelve Reasons to Die: eerie samples, gritty street rhyming, and, of course, essentially the entire Clan holding down the guest spots. In an impressive effort, Ghostface remains consistently charismatic as on previous efforts and reinforces his position as master storyteller and virtuosic narrator.
What really sets this album apart from previous albums by Ironman is the fact that the production is handled by composer Adrian Younge. Yes, Ghostface Killah recruited this professional arranger, who has dabbled with MPC production since the 90s, alongside operating a record store and scoring music, most notably for the Black Dynamite Soundtrack. To describe Younge’s musical style would be undermining his true art; based on the sound of this album, as opposed to Younge’s other work, a logical conclusion can be made that the music producer orchestrated his sound to directly reflect the style of the Wu-elite. Nonetheless, the full-bodied, sophisticated – yes, sophisticated – production stands marvelously well alongside Ghostface’s conceptual subject matter.
For those unfamiliar, Twelve Reasons to Die is a direct reference and conceptual representation of a comic book by the same name. Even if one is unfamiliar with the comic, the ‘listenability’ of this record is still palpable. Alluring wordplay and enthralling stories create an irresistible, front-to-back musical experience; indeed, this record is best played from start to finish.
“Enemies All Around Me (feat. William Hart)” mind-boggles as much as it straight knocks; conversely, “Rise of the Black Suits” simply bangs with some live drums as Ghost lays down a ghastly set of rhymes. The brashness on “The Rise of the Ghostface Killah” is a song meant to played in the red, while “Twelve Reasons to Die,” the title track and solo instrumental proves to be quaintly, albeit eerily, ataractic. This back and forth limbo of emotional vibes creates a whirlwind of moods varying from track to track which comes off as inconsistent by theory, but in reality, works to create a realistic story of unpredictable events changing, coming and going with the waves of the narratives.
A grandiose piece of work, Twelve Reasons to Die stands as an impressive opus for Ghostface to add to his discography. The conceptual theme of the album is thoroughly and exceptionally carried out. With Adrian Younge’s unique, yet tailored production, the whole album comes together cleanly with only a few, forgettable blemishes (none at all too serious to even note). Although this album has essentially the same sound as Ghostface’s other projects over the last decade, that holds up as far as consistency as an artist goes. For another solo project, after almost twenty years of doing solo work, Ghostface Killah certainly impresses with the Adrian Younge-produced, Twelve Reasons to Die. So, my rating…
I recommend this album to any fan of modern Wu-Tang solo projects, and fans of dynamic production by artists such as Oddisee, Black Milk and Nottz.
1) Beware of the Stare
2) Rise of the Black Suits
3) I Declare War (feat. Masta Killa)
4) Blood On the Cobblestones (feat. U-God & Inspectah Deck)
5) The Center of Attraction (feat. Cappadonna)
6) Enemies All Around Me (feat. William Hart)
7) An Unexpected Call [The Set Up] (feat. Inspectah Deck)
8) The Rise of the Ghostface Killah
9) Revenge Is Sweet (feat. Masta Killa & Killa Sin)
10) Murder Spree (feat. U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck & Killa Sin)
11) The Sure Shot (Parts 1 and 2)
12) 12 Reasons to Die
Styles P: Float
Nametag & Nameless: For Namesake
Illogic & Blockhead: Capture the Sun