Released April 16, 2013
- Beware of the Stare
- Rise of the Black Suits
- I Declare War feat. Masta Killah
- Blood on the Cobblestones feat. U-God & Inspectah Deck
- The Center of Attraction feat. Cappadonna
- Enemies All Around Me feat. William Hart
- An Unexpected Call (The Set Up) feat. Inspectah Deck
- Rise of the Ghostface Killah
- Revenge is Sweet feat. Masta Killah & Killa Sin
- Murder Spree feat. U-God, Masta Killah, Inspectah Deck & Killa Sin
- The Sure Shot (Parts 1 & 2)
- 12 Reasons to Die
Ghostface Killah is the most consistent member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Supreme Clientele is in the top three of the best solo Wu-Tang albums. In his discography, there isn’t an album that is skippable or dismissible. Even his R&B influenced album, Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City ended up being a fun, playful, yet somewhat rugged album. If there have been any missteps with his albums, it has all been from a marketing and promotion angle, not the quality of the music.
Twelve Reasons marks Ghostface’s first album since he left Def Jam. The album is released under Soul Temple Records, the label fellow Wu-Tang member RZA created. Ghost linked up with composer and producer Adrian Younge. Younge’s work not only includes original music, but also scoring films, such as the 2009 blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite.
That background of Younge’s plays a huge role in this album. The concept of the album is that Ghostface (playing Tony Starks) works for the DeLuca crime family until he decides to leave them and become a crime lord himself. This sets up a war between the DeLucas and his own crew. At the same time, Starks falls in love with the daughter of the DeLuca boss. It ends up being a set up. The DeLucas kill him and press his remains into twelve vinyl records. Once all twelve records are played, he returns as the Ghostface Killah and gains his revenge.
The story itself is a bit thin. Ghostface’s motivation to return and exact revenge because they killed him is a serviceable reason, but it’s simple and left me wishing there was a bit more storytelling on the relationship between the two parties. The RZA’s narration on the album ends up being a good didactic method of storytelling but there isn’t enough of a story in general to tell. The fact that there is a plot that is worth looking at critically means that Ghostface and Adrian have succeeded on some level.
The execution of the album is how it shines. Although RZA does have executive producer credit on the album, Adrian Younge handled the production. He is only the second producer that I can think of that attempted a RZA/Wu-Tang style production and succeeded (The other being the Cypress Hill producer DJ Muggs with his work with GZA on Grandmasters). He nails creating a proper atmosphere for a crime story to be told. His live instrumentation work puts it over-the-top in a way that keyboards and drum machines couldn’t.
Ghostface is the most consistent MC from the Wu-Tang Clan. While he does get pegged a bit for not providing a deeper, more nuanced story, he still weaves a tale that works for a full-length LP. His voice is as strong as ever, his lyrics still rugged and gritty. Only few other MCs in the history of hip-hop have the confidence and the willingness to create a full-length LP story.
Perhaps the medium of music is why the story isn’t as strong as it could’ve been. The album runs 40 minutes long, and a lot happens in a short amount of time. I would’ve liked to have seen one more song that explores Tony Starks’ relationship with the DeLucas. He wanted to leave just to become a crime boss? Again, there isn’t much there in the way of story.
But Ghost and Adrian make it enjoyable to listen to the story from beginning to end. There is a definite chemistry between the two. Here’s hoping if they continue to make more music, it will be as enjoyable and good as Twelve Reasons is.
Twelve Reasons To Die