Ghostface is back and this time around he’s in full-blown Tony Starks mode. Teaming up with producer/composer Adrian Younge, Twelve Reasons to Die is classic Ghostface narrative/crime rap. The beats are cinematic and menacing in a clean sort of way . Younge bring the spiraling strings and the funky drums with chilling piano loops that are no doubt paying homage to the producer who started it all (you know who). Adrian Younge managed a remarkable thing earlier this year in crafting the best Delphonics record in over four decades, and here his talents are on full display in what amounts to a veteran being matched with a full orchestra. And yeah, it’s almost as cool as that sounds.
“I Declare War” is a classic Wu cut with falsetto Ennio Morricone shrieks accompanied by maffioso hooks. Masta Killa supplies a fresh verse and hearing these two guys spit together again takes you back to a time when this type of thing sounded contemporary. There isn’t really a weak cut on Twelve Reasons to Die but with that there aren’t many ear catching standouts. “Enemies All Around” is a track that you would picture Roc Marciano paying homage to in 2013 if it was released 20 years ago. Most of 12 Reasons to Die exudes this kind of vibe. “The Rise of the Ghostface Killah” features an echoing guitar loop that is only a few steps removed from Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang”. Masta Killa appears again on “Revenge is Sweet” and the Rebel INS and U-God make cameos on “Blood on the Cobblestones”.
This is a fun project and it’s also one that will likely be celebrated by fans of the Wu. Adrian Younge creates an aesthetic that Ghost inhabits with guns, drugs, and murder. Call it a concept album as Ghost has crafted a narrative that is almost exactly what you would expect from an album titled “Twelve Reasons to Die”. Twenty years of constant rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness assault on the mic has definitely taken it’s toll on Ghostface’s voice — sounding weathered in a tired way. Raekwon can rock the middle aged raspy-voiced mob kingpin vibe but hearing that sort of thing out of Ghostface is kind of sad when considering how high pitched the dude used to sound. Still the raps are fresh and lets face it, it’s Ghostface Killah making classic Ghostface Killah songs. You could certainly knock the dude for this type of unoriginality, but at this point in his career it’s almost refreshing to hear a master of his craft operate within his comfort zone.
Stream the whole thing below.