Drug enforcer Tony Starks has murdered by his former bosses in the DeLuca crime family. His remains have been melted into twelve vinyl albums which, when played, summon the vengeful Ghostface Killah.
Twelve Reasons to Die is a collaborative effort by Wu Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and producer / composer Adrian Younge (and his band); though the album will most likely be referenced as Ghostface’s new LP, that it is collaborative is of special note simply because Younge’s band brings so much energy to the album and at times supports tracks where Ghostface’s verses cannot. Though not lyrically in top form per se, Ghostface still sounds energetic and excited, and every single guest appearance is perfectly suited to the tracks.
There is also that premise to contend with: Ghostface has long been one of the most gleefully insane (and manically depressed) figures in mainstream hip-hop, but with the nearly meta concept of a twelve track album about twelve albums that summon the first album’s creator, Ghostface takes things into At Swim Two Birds territory. The Wu Tang trio of Ghostface, U-God, and Inspectah Deck on “Blood on the Cobblestones” provides for the album’s most insanely energetic barrage of hip-hop one-upmanship. For such a stellar track to be an album’s highlight by such a slim margin is a promising sign, but the legitimately great Twelve Reasons to Die still manages to be a disappointment.
Twelve Reasons to Die is not what is should be: what it should be is a revelation, the historic moment for hip-hop that Adrian Younge has claimed it is, something that stands to be at least as much of a hip-hop watershed moment as FishScale. While the highs on Twelve Reasons to Die certainly hold their own against Ghost’s earlier work, the album still feels like something less than the sum of its parts. What should be extraordinary is only very, very good; what should be radical feels as though things are being played safe. Hopefully this isn’t the end of the Ghostface / Younge collaborative endeavors – if Twelve Reasons to Die is any indication, there could be something incredible on the horizon.