Review: Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons to Die II

Ghostface Killah is probably long due for a vacation at this point, but it would seem unwise to stop an artist on such a creative hot streak.  Twelve Reasons to Die II is the third album Ghostface has released in less than a year, and the compelling and gripping record is not only a worthy sequel to the 2013 original, but probably the best of the recent trio.  Adrian Younge once again proves to be the ideal collaborator, backing up the imaginative and gritty storytelling of Ghostface with a musical accompaniment that is engrossing yet subtle.  Younge’s production never overshadows the emcees, but it is still packed with enough fascinating nuance and clever ideas that it begs for closer listening.

For the sequel, Ghostface tightens the narrative and simplifies the action, focusing purely on the revenge aspect from the original.  RZA helpfully provides narration of key plot points, but the bulk of the guest work is handled by Ghostface’s frequent partner Raekwon, who is enlisted for the role of fellow gangster “Lester Kane” and serves as the primary co-star in this saga.  This time around, there is a similar amount of violence and a bit more melodrama (plus a surprise twist at the end), and while there is not the same creative spark that characterized the original, it does set up nicely for a sequel.

Younge incorporates similar musical elements that he used on Twelve Reasons to Die (organ flourishes, vibrato guitar), but does so more sparingly this time.  The result is a production that is evocative of the original in spirit, but still stands out as its own work.  Younge tamps down on some of the campier elements, relying less on Italian horror-type themes from the first album and utilizing more 70’s-era soul and R&B grooves, as heard on tracks like “Get the Money”.

The great news is that compact disc versions of the album come with a free disc of all the instrumental parts, which really helps highlight the brilliance of many of Younge’s compositions.  But the album truly works as a collaboration, and it will likely leave you hoping for another installment to the saga to be released as soon as possible.

Over the Weekend (May 18 Edition)

New music, new videos, and other fun stuff as we recover from illness*…

Run The Jewels are seemingly intent on releasing videos for every track from last year’s stellar release Run The Jewels 2, and the video for “Early” might be their best one yet.  The video tackles the topic of police brutality like previous single “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”, but opting for animation this go-around.

Ghostface Killah has been extremely busy lately, releasing 36 Seasons last year and Sour Soul with BADBADNOTGOOD earlier this year, and later this summer he will be releasing the sequel to the fantastic concept album Twelve Reasons To Die.  Today Ghostface released the first track from the collaboration with Adrian Younge, with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon contributing to “Return of the Savage”.  Stereogum has the SoundCloud link.

Tame Impala keeps trickling out new tracks from their upcoming album Currents, as “Eventually” was released last week.

Noisey talks to Yuck’s Max Bloom about one of his favorite new bands, and he uses the opportunity to talk about Vaadat Charigim.  It was pretty obvious that Max had great taste in 90’s indie rock considering his band’s own albums, and it sounds like he has a great ear for shoegaze as well.

Rolling Stone has the surreal short film that Soundgarden used to introduce their Superunknown tour, so those of us who were unable to attend that tour can find out what they missed.

Having previously compiled a playlist for another band with an expansive and eclectic discography (Built To Spill), the AV Club provides a service once again for those looking to get further into the music of Blur.  The result, sad to say, is not particularly good, and features the writer completely misunderstanding the Metacritic grading system (as witnessed multiple times in the comments, where she defends saying that The Magic Whip got “mixed reviews” when by their own metric Metacritic gives it a “Universal Approval” stamp).

Finally, the music world lost one of its greatest members, and a true titan, with the death of B.B. King late last week.  Billboard provides an excellent look at King’s legendary career.

*We apologize for our absence, as a stomach flu hit our writing staff with a vengeance last week.  We will run the planned Thursday post tomorrow, and then proceed as normal.  Not only did we lose two days of articles, but the illness also prevented us from covering a performance from one of our favorite live acts, Local H.  Hopefully they swing by again as soon as possible.