Twelve Reasons to Die is the tenth studio and conceptual album by Wu-Tang Clan member, rapper Ghostface Killah and produced entirely by film composer Adrian Younge (Black Dynamite Soundtrack), known for his unique take on psychedelic soul.
The story is set in the 1960s and is based around Ghostface’s alter-ego, Tony Starks and revolves around Tony’s meteoric rise to power, from low level gangster to becoming the leader of his own crime syndicate. Starks falls for the daughter of the rival Deluca crime family, resulting in a vicious gang war between the two factions. The daughter betrays Tony, has him killed and presses his remains into 12 vinyl records, one for each member of the family. When played the records give birth to Ghostface Killa which allows Tony to take his revenge from beyond the grave.
Stylistically Twelve Reasons to Die is heavily influenced by giallo, the Italian murder mystery/slasher film genre. This is made clear by Ghostface’s incredible storytelling, aided by Younge’s soulful production and a haunting narration from executive producer RZA.
The only downside to this album is that it is far two short, for how complex of a story it is – resulting in some songs appearing dense. Like with other concept albums, Twelve Reasons to Die is at its best when it is listened in order, from start to finish – unfortunately it loses some of its charm in shuffle mode. Standout tracks include: “Rise of The Black Suits” describing Tony’s rise to power, “The Center of Attraction” featuring Capadona, who warns Tony that DeLuca’s daughter is not what she seems to be, “An Unexpected Call (The Set Up)” detailing Tony’s downfall. “The Rise of Ghostface Killa” basically the reincarnation of Tony, and the album title track “12 Reasons to Die” which serves as an outro that puts the prowess of Younge’s production on full display.
Simply put Twelve Reasons To Die is a captivating concept album from start to finish. It is a brutal tale of gangsters, betrayal and vengeance. If you are a fan of good hip-hop, immersive storytelling and beautiful production then this is an album for you.
Purchase Twelve Reasons To Die (iTunes)