Rolling Stone (p.75) - "[Ghostface's] shaggy, breathless flow remains one of pop's most transfixing sounds."
CMJ - "[H]e spits with typical flair about war, love, betrayal, and being the one and only Ghostface Killah..."
Audio Mixer: Adrian Younge.
Wu-Tang rapper Ghostface Killah is no stranger to the concept album, having just dropped the R&B pillow-talk effort Ghostdini the Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City in 2009, but Twelve Reasons to Die is something bigger, and better. Produced entirely by film composer Adrian Younge, this creepy cool effort is a comic book on wax that relates to a real series of comic books released by executive producer RZA's Soul Temple imprint. On top of that, it's influenced heavily by the Italian murder mystery/slasher film genre known as giallo, where everything is smoky, sinister, and '70s, and while that may sound complicated, overwrought, and insider, the end product is none of the above. Like Younge's work on the Black Dynamite soundtrack, this period piece overflows with love and respect for its influencing genre. An autoharp and the sound of rain falling introduce "An Unexpected Call (The Set Up)," where no one knows what's lurking around the corner, while the closing title track seems ripped right out of some Dario Argento end credit sequence with rickety piano, wobbly string section, and echoing, earnest narration all painting a dreadful picture. Speaking of earnest, Ghostface is lyrically committed to the album's vision and keeps his tongue in cheek without ever overtly winking at the audience, offering "I never lose battles/Pimp bitches with a superhero logo on my chest/Big Gucci link, JFK on the crest" during the key cut "The Sure Shot, Pts. 1-2," while "Was an evil day, the sun glistened over the city/Shine bright in the window in the eyes of my kitty" is the vivid picture painting he does through his Tony Stark character elsewhere. Pushing the story forward doesn't trump the inspiration, and while the album is best listened to in one go, these strong cuts could easily be parceled out for any career-spanning Ghostface mixtape, plus Younge must love the Wu as much as he loves composer Ennio Morricone, judging from some of the banging beats he lays underneath along with the general production haziness that recalls RZA. It's short and limited, but it's well crafted and strong, and a worthy alternative to RZA's Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack done with some wild, Wallabee Kingpin spin. ~ David Jeffries