Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge, "Twelve Reasons to Die" (Soul Temple/RED Distribution)
"Twelve Reasons to Die" unites Wu-Tang Clan vet Ghostface Killah with Adrian Younge, one of music's brightest young composers. The album's 12 cinematic tracks trace the trials of a masked Mafioso who is resurrected after his remains are pressed into a dozen vinyl LPs.
Playing like a graphic novel, the Ghostface persona jumps off the page. But aside from the requisite gear gloating (lion skin Wallabees, Black Panther hoodie made of panther skin), his signature impromptu patois is all but absent. Instead, Ghost is in the type of pure storyteller mode last heard on the breakneck hood-noir of his song "Shakey Dog."
Ghost's controlled and committed wordplay is the ideal accommodation for Younge's lush accompaniments. Probably best known for composing the score of the classic Blaxploitation spoof "Black Dynamite," an emphasis on stuttering organs and bleating brass carries over here, along with tight breaks and operatic hood nymphs who float in and out the story.
At times the arrangements approximate RZA conducting live musicians (he executive produces and narrates), but Younge also appears versed in the back catalogs of titans like David Axelrod and Ennio Morricone.