Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons To Die | Album Review


Dark poetry is probably the best way to describe Ghostface Killah’s latest offering. If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino movies you’ll love it. Like a lyrical horr-opera, Ghostdini does what he does best by attacking every beat with his razor sharp tongue not letting up for even a second. While many are going to forever say that Ironman is the Wu-Tang [Clan] rhymer’s finest work – which it might well be – Twelve Reasons To Die is definitely of the same standard.

With solid narrative from start to finish, the return of a completely cohesive project is a beautiful thing to see and hear. Ghost’s lyrically descriptive music paints an insane picture of retaliation, revenge and get back; and putting pieces of the puzzle together becomes a satisfying game of did he/didn’t he [which once again gives your rewind button purpose].

Creating an entire movie based around his longtime alias, the Twelve Reasons To Die story starts with Tony Starks – way before there was ever a Ghostface Killah – and his ties to the criminal underworld. After the album introduction – “Beware Of The Stare,” which plays out like a [James] Bond theme song explaining the premise of the entire story – “Rise Of The Black Suits” reports Tony’s criminal beginnings as part of the DeLuca crime syndicate.

Over a set of constant organ chords – with an additional five note piano key sequence thrown in – Tony’s mob graduation is put on blast. Explaining his rise to power he spits, “Jay DeLuca put me with the fam to throw/ I was a boss amongst white boys rocking the ‘fro,” the story quickly turns to one that sees him step away from the family because of discrimination tactics to stop him becoming a made individual. Instead, he does what any self-proclaimed boss would do; start his own regime – “I blacked out on ‘em and started my own clan/ Black Gambino, black suits, a black syndicate/ My crime fam was tight, every move was intricate.”

It’s no surprise that Twelve Reasons To Die sounds the way it does. Produced entirely by Adrian Younge, the L.A. based music maker has been known to edit and score movies in the past. Responsible for the soundtrack to the blaxploitation revival movie Black Dynamite, his understanding of instrumental arrangements proves valuable to the success of this album.

Take for example the sophisticatedly supernatural “The Center Of Attraction.” Laying the foundations of a story detailing deceit, no bars are introduced for the first minute and a half. Warming listeners ears before Tony Stark falls victim to some good loving, it’s a strictly instrumental affair. With some spine-chilling female vocals that might as well be considered an adopted instrument, Younge’s patience as far as picking the right spots to introduce certain elements is flawless. Add to this Cappadonna’s words of wisdom to his comrade – “She’s not your peanut butter, more like a fucking nutcase” – the tale of deception leads smoothly in to the next part of the story.

Featuring some incredibly eerie [and echoing] vocals from William Hart (of The Delfonics), “Enemies All Around Me” sees the beginning of the end for Tony Stark. Short but sweet, the following track – “An Unexpected Call (The Set Up)” – arrives as an add on. Incorporating the moment of realisation that he’s been set up, while the death of Tony Stark seems like the end of the story, it’s actually only just the beginning.

With only five tracks remaining, the most important moments of Twelve Reasons To Die arise out of the unfortunate death of a man who [as a listener] you begin to understand and have a certain amount of respect for – like you do for Tony Montana in the movie Scarface. You can’t help but root for the bad guy when the good guys aren’t really that good. Cramming so much killing in to so few tracks leaves you desiring a little more than what Ghost is giving up. However, straight and to the point seems the way to go with this one.

After some informative narration from RZA proclaiming that the remains of Tony Stark have been etched in to twelve pieces of vinyl – one for each member of the DeLuca family – “Rise Of The Ghostface Killah sees the unimaginable happen. Rising in a paranormal form – “They took out Stark, but the light rises within” – Ghostface seeks revenge. Over what can only be described as an early Wu-Tang influenced slice of production, the drum pattern and regular guitar strum gives [Hip-Hop] heads a reason to bop from side to side [as if they were sizing up a leap across a stream].

Picking of the DeLuca’s one by one, Ghostface’s horrific death methods – “Have your kids thrown out of a plane, what up cuz?” – become a wild exploration of twisted fantasy. With “Murder Spree” and “The Sure Shot (Parts 1 & 2)” standing out like a smurf on a whiteboard, the combination of Wu-Tang artillery – “Murder Spree” features U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck and Killa Sin – and dominating live drum switch ups, there’s absolutely no faulting the direction in which Ghost and Younge take this album – although a verse from Raekwon might have been nice. Ending the story with Ghostface becoming an urban legend, all that’s left to say [with the help of RZA] is, “Unable to become immortilised in life, Ghostface became immortiised in death.”

Deserving an Oscar moreso than a Grammy, Ghostface Killah has proven himself not only to be one of the most consistent members of The Wu-Tang Clan, but also one of the most consistent members of the Hip-Hop community period. Full of beats, rhymes, and twisted fiction, Twelve Reasons To Die is a [short] superior project with glimpses of perfection rarely found in today’s creative arena.

Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons To Die
Label: Soul Temple
Released: April 16, 2013
Buy: iTunes / BandCamp