By Wisdom Body (Ime Ekpo)
Ghostface deserves an honorary degree for his musical consistency. In December of 2014 he dropped his 11th studio album, 36 Seasons. Earlier this year in February he came out with Sour Soul, which is a collaboration studio album with the Canadian jazz-funk band BadBadNotGood. Now Ghost has teamed back up with LA producer Adrian Younge for the sequel to their mafioso story themed concept album, Twelve Reasons To Die II. And quality hip hop it is. Ghost puts his most theatrical foot forward as Younge’s illustrative cinematic approach borns the tale into existence.
With rich, jazzy and a 70’s soul-boggling production, Younge compliments the captivating rhymes of Ghost and his grand guest featured emcees. The Wu truly steps through as Rza and Raekwon play imperative roles on the gem. Rza’s acting touch is at full display as he eloquently narrates throughout the ballard. A familiar Raekwon stars as Lester Kane, a New York City drug lord who is at war with the Italian mob family, the DeLuca’s. He comes at Starks defense and is also Ghost’s lyrical partner in crime. Younge and Ghost agreed to the swift collabs with XXL Freshman Vince Staples, underground hip hop notable Chino XL, rising upcomers like Sacrub and Lyrics Born and the independent great Bilal. They all adapted very well to the signature complex sounds of Adrian Younge and kept up with the art of Ghost’s storytelling.
Set in Italy of the 1960s, in Twelve Reasons To Die Ghost was a mob slayer that ended up killed by the DeLuca’s family. His remains were pressed into 12 vinyl records and when any of these vinyls are played, Tony Starks comes back to life. Now the tale continues as a resurrected Tony Starks aims for payback from the DeLuca’s mob. Staged in the early 1970’s of New York City, Tony Starks and Lester Kane finally meet face to face on the track “Revenge of the Savage.” With the start of Ghostface’s sinister hook, Raekwon returns to his native ebb. His hasty hustle rhymes express how Lester Kane blew the tops off some DeLuca’s men who were in the midst of enjoying some Dom Perignon at a restaurant. The chiller melody of the keyboard on the hook of this track, is signature, all thanks to Adrian Younge. Rza is featured on this track for the outro narration, it is the closest you will witness Rza doing any type of spitting. Peep some of Rza’s lines:
“A black crime family led by Lester Kane has made a violent push for supremacy against the DeLuca clan, now residing in New York City.”
With his vast unique knowledge on bringing together the elements of music, Adrian Younge crafts an emotionally profound beat for the track “King of New York”. This is the first raw Ghost and Chef song on the album.
“He a crime boy, he’s killing it. Ruthless, this man reminds me of myself. Tony Stark the king obsessed with wealth and power.”
In high spirits Starks delivers high and mighty wordplay about the potential Lester Kane has to become the King of New York. Of course as Lester Kane, the Chef drops another set of steadfast mafioso bars about his obstacles and rewards as a New York kingpin. The familiar vibe from the tones of Ghost and Raekwon are felt as the story continues.
Who are the rappers of the moment? Ghost brought along Vince Staples, Scarub and Lyrics Born to help form this ballard. On the song “Rise Up”, which features upcomer rapper Scarub, the emcee delivers enticing bars about how “Lester Kane clan ain’t nothing to fuck with.” Along with the tough sounds of the bass and colorful keyboard notes by Younge, Staples joins Starks on “Get The Money”. This is probably one of the most catchiest songs of the album. Ghost goes on a reckless rampage about getting the chance to rob the Italian mob so his legacy can live on. Staples impressively spits lines about the commitments being made to make Kane the King of New York, flowing perfectly with the Wu Tang legend.
Now the track Death’s Invitation has a very eccentric twist. The song starts off with Ghost’s theatrical stance, followed by another serious narration by Rza. Scarub drops superfast rhymes that no one can make out or understand. But here comes Lyrics Born with his pessimistic, suspenseful flow and dark low end tone. He takes us through the fiasco between the DeLuca’s and Lester Kane.
“The DeLucas lowered their revolvers and put them back in their shoulder holsters. They shifted through the dead remains. The bedrooms, and the entry way. WHERE THE HELL IS LESTER KANE?”
Adrian Younge’s ear for detail is exemplary with his special acoustic of the bass guitar and drums. It was also Younge’s idea to drop Chino XL on the track who was a perfect fit for the tune. Chino XL laid an intense verse stemming from the perspective of Tony Starks. Ghost let the emcees hold it down real quick and rested from this one.
Ghost needed the rest because the next two tracks are another set of Ghost and Chef duos. “Let The Record Spin” which is the second single of the album, is the most recognized. Then there is the melodious gangsta track, “Blackout”. Anyone who questions the chemistry between Ghost and Raekwon does not have to anymore ! With very comforting vocals the legends decided to blast out into pure lyrical furries on these tracks. Along with Younge’s science for sound and music, the 70s soul sound of the instrumentals on these duo tracks really frame this tale to life.
“Mother and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. No one should survive this wicked war killers.”
-Raekwon in “Let The Record Spin”
Yeah, this is certainly what a gangsta mob ballard from a New York City kingpin would sound like. With their turn on steam rapping style, Ghost and Chef reveal the statuses of Lester Kane and Tony Starks. Listeners are left with a surprise in the track “Resurrection Morning”. It is the last on the album you will hear Raekwon and the final guest feature by independent sensation Bilal.
Ghostface Killah’s praiseworthy and classic storytelling ability is at full display. Younge managed to maintain his signature quality sound by strictly recording this album on an analog tape, which helped bring out that true 70’s sound. Being that Younge is a true musician he has even played up to 10 instruments to formulate some of these tracks. Production at it’s finest. It was definitely necessary to rehash the first album’s theme to enable a continuous wonder about what is to come next. They way this album is structured will leave listeners eager to find out what happens next in the story of the Ghostface legacy. So there is open room for another sequel. Adrian Younge and Ghostface have futuristic goals for the Twelve Reasons To Die brand. With it’s cinematic vibe and high potential of a trilogy, there are high chances that the growth of this brand will change the culture of hip hop.
– Double Disc CD (LP and Instrumentals)
– LP Vinyl
– Instrumental vinyl
– 7′ Box set: 2 serato tone 7′ picture disc vinyl + four 7′ records.
– killer combo box set
– box set that pairs part one and part two