Twelve Reasons to Die is a collaboration album between Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah and producer/composer Adrian Younge. The album is a concept album, based on a comic book which will be available with the deluxe and collectors editions of the release. Twelve Reasons to Die will be released on April 16, 2013 via Rza's Soul Temple Music record label, but it's currently available for a full album stream on the npr music website, which is what I am reviewing here until my copy comes in the mail.
Got my physical copy. The review doesn't change any from the stream since the sound and mastering seem to be the same.
1) Beware of the Stare - The album begins with some crazy opera vocals setting up the story of the album. The beats on here are all live instrumentation by Adrian Younge and his band Venice Dawn, so the production is top notch and includes some dope drums and an ill guitar. Ghost spits fire about how he isn't to be messed with. His energy is toned down a bit from the animated Ghostface we all know, but he still sounds dope. Great way to start the album.
2) Rise of the Black Suits - Damn the beat is crazy. It's got some hard drums combined with what sounds like an organ and some piano keys sprinkled over it. Whatever it is, its dope. Ghost rips it and raps about his rise to fame and how he breaks out on his own to start his own crime family.
"Jay Delucas put me with the fam to growThis track is just begging for a Raekwon feature, but it's banging even without him.
I was a boss among white boys, rockin a fro"
3) I Declare War (featuring Masta Killa) - These songs are all flowing together very nicely, from the beats to the lyrics. On this song, Ghostface and Masta Killa declare war on the Delucas. The chorus has some crazy opera singing integrated into it. Both Ghost and Masta Killa rip this. The song ends with a Rza outro which sums up the story so far. Another banger.
4) Blood on the Cobblestones (featuring U-God and Inspectah Deck) - The war begins. The beat is energetic and got my head nodding. The scratching on the chorus are really dope and keeps up the frantic pace of the instrumental. All three emcees destroy the track, but I think Deck takes this song.
"So the Deluca's want Tone, nah not todayThis is nuts. Probably my favorite song so far.
Cock and spray, side with them and you got to pay
Don't even kill'em, just make them feel a lot of pain
Take out his wife and his seed at the soccer game"
5) The Center of Attraction (featuring Cappadonna) - This song begins with a long, sung intro similar to the first track on the album. The beat is a lot more mellow than the previous song, but its dope. Ghostface falls in love with a woman and Cappadonna warns him that it's a setup by the Delucas. Ghost doesn't listen and is mad that Cappadonna would think that, which leads into the next song.
6) Enemies All Around Me (featuring William Hart) - Another slower track. Ghost spits about having too many enemies and how his team keeps telling him not to trust his woman, but he is going to ignore their advice and follow his heart. This song is dark (so are the others, but this one more-so) and the chorus, by William Hart, is quite eerie. This track reminds me of something off of a Portishead album, which is dope. I really like this track.
7) An Unexpected Call (The Set Up) (featuring Inspectah Deck) - The Deluca's spring their trap. Ghost's woman did indeed set him up and he ends up in a vat of acid.
"I got knocked out and woke up in the melting potDeck gets word of what happened and lets the Deluca's know that they have it coming. The beat is banging and both Ghost and Deck rip it.
I heard the Deluca's laughing, and then shit got hot
They said 'Die Tony Starks. You gonna melt like a record
Never to be remembered. Never to be respected'"
8) The Rise of the Ghostface Killah - This song begins with some ominous chanting as Rza speaks about how the Deluca's pressed up Tonys remains into 12 vinyl records - one for each member of the family. Nevertheless, Tony returns from the dead...as the Ghostface Killaaaahhhhh.
"Tommy guns are irrelevant, I'm bullet-proof now
I can fly through the air and duck ya chicka pow"
The beat is absolutely bonkers and Ghost bodies it. This is vintage Wu right here.
9) Revenge is Sweet (featuring Masta Killa and Killa Sin) - I'm not feeling the singing on the intro to this song, but once the rapping kicks in it gets real good. The beat is dark as hell and all three emcees rip it (especially Killa Sin). Ghost is getting his revenge from beyond the grave, while Masta Killa and Killa Sin bring it from the physical world.
"Yes, but what they didn't expectRza drops a quick spoken word in between their verses. This is dope!
A hundred goons from the projects
Armed and masked with flame throwers and gas that'll blast anything"
10) Murder Spree (featuring U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck & Killa Sin) - The instrumental on this track is dope as hell and has mad energy. Ghostface and his boys are killin everyone on here. U-God gets a bit drowned out by the beat, but he rips it.
"First things first, I'll chop your head then your fingertipsMasta Killa and Ghost end up having two verses each on this song. This is a banger.
Butcher knife your torso, chop up your ligaments
Make sure its legitimate, conceal all my fingerprints
Chop, chop your body up quick, then get rid of it
A hole in the desert, body bags just fill the ditch"
11) The Sure Shot (Parts One and Two) - This song has two beats, one for each part of the song, and both are crazy. I'm not not which I like better, but I'm leaning toward the second half. The first instrumental ends and slowly blends into the second one, which is a bit harder. Once again, Ghost is spitting fire:
"I'm a menace, the Black Clark Kent, Caped CrusaderThe lyrics at the end of Part Two sum up the last few songs on the album:
The face of a ghost, I disappear into vapors
You can murder my flesh and bone, soul's invincible
Revenge my death, paybacks the main principle"
"Corruption, my mind state is unpredictableThis is very dope. One of the best songs on here.
I'm bullet proof now, back from the dead, I'm invincible"
12) 12 Reasons To Die - This instrumental outro begins with a quick spoken word by Rza:
"Gangstas told their children to never double cross a man who's will is so strong that he could cross the planes of existence to get his revenge."And then the instrumental begins. Very nice.
I'm going to rate the album a
4.5 / 5
because this album is banging. The beats perfectly complement the dope storytelling lyrics by Ghostface and all of the guests. The Italian opera/horror sound prevalent throughout the album is crazy and must have been difficult to pull off successfully on a hip-hop album, but Adrian Younge has done it almost flawlessly. I've heard some mixed things about this album - that Ghost phones in his performance, that his flow doesn't gel well with the beats, etc. Sure, his flow may be slightly off in a few spots but its barely noticeable and neither the album nor the storytelling suffer from it in any way. Regardless, I HIGHLY recommend copping this album.