Aging gracefully in the rap game is damn near next to impossible. Most artist stray away from their original motif, create terrible music, or quite frankly become outdated. However this is never the case for the Wally Champ himself Ghostface Killah. Teaming up with composer, arranger, and music producer Adrian Younge (Venice Dawn and Black Dynamite soundtrack) the duo creates a colorful narrative of contending crime lords, betrayal, and revenge on their well executed collaboration on Twelve Reasons to Die.
The album opens up with operatic vocals, as Ghostface illustrates a cautionary tale on “Beware of the Stare.” “Rise of the Black Suits” tells the story of a young ambitious African-American gangster, who falls out with his Italian crime boss DeLucas. Once a figure of power and respect, he later on separates from the syndicate stating “J DeLucas put me with the fam to grow/ I was a boss amongst white boys rocking a fro” and “Trying to make me a made man/ fucked up the main plan/ I blacked out on them and started my own clan.”
Starks starts to slip and falls in love with a conniving decoy on “The Center of Attraction.” Right-hand man Cappadonna tries to warn his boss with lines such as “she got the drink laced trying turn you to an android.” Lost in lust the offended don refuses to believe the accusations, even telling Cappachino “She’ll never set me up or lace my drink/watch how you talking know I keep a gun in the mink.”
Things get real on “An Unexpected Call (The Set Up),” as Ghostface answers the phone call leading to his untimely demise. Plans of love and baked ziti fall through as Ghost Deny’s suspicion of a set-up is confirmed when he feels DeLucas’ gun behind his neck. Stark’s arch nemesis finally gains revenge. Tying up Ghost in a melting pot and burning him into twelve vinyl records stating “Die Tony Starks you going melt like a record/ never to be remembered, never to be respected.”
Resurrected and seeking revenge things turn supernatural as Tony Starks surpasses mortal limitations on the albums first single “Rise of the Ghostface Killah.” Ghost gets his just dues on the subpar “Revenge is Sweet’ and “Murder Spree”with Wu-tang compadres Masta Killa, U-God, Inspectah Deck, and Killa Sin.
The album’s stand out (and our favorite) track is “The Sure Shot” (Parts one & two). Quenching his thirst of revenge, Starks viciously spits venom opening with “records spin, I’m going in, I don’t shoot to kill I play to win.” Immediately winning with his fast pace stream-of-conscience narrative, sitting perfectly on the drums groove.
Ghost’s glorified and intricate story telling matched with Younge’s unique, nostalgic, and psychedelic production is the perfect marriage. Roughly forty minutes, Twelve Reasons to Die is short, sweet, and straight to point; satisfying fans both old and new. With rumors of Supreme Clientele 2 and the long awaited collaboration with metal-faced villain DOOM, the chemistry between artist and producer is a perfect match made in heaven, and hopefully will not be the last. Pick up your copy through Soul Temple Music.