Ghostface Killah – “Twelve Reasons to Die” – [Soul Temple]
The full title of this release is Adrian Younge presents 12 Reasons to Die, and that is important to note. Adrian Younge is LA’s current head procurer of dark soul with his interesting style that sounds like he’s composing 70s movie score type jams on an Akai MPC sampler/sequencer and then having his resident soulburner band, Venice Dawn, replay his compositions (utilizing old timey recording techniques [read: protools plug-ins] I’m sure) with a careful intent not to lose any of the original dirty feeling that a sample-based rap jam has to have to be just that. This style was effective on Younge’s earlier projects (the Black Dynamite Soundtrack, Something About April, and AY presents The Dramatics) and his record remains unblemished here. Only the Roots, Dr. Dre’s Niggaz4Life opus, and Above The Law’s post-Black Mafia Life catalog pull off a live hip hop thing better. Younge is on his shit. Now to the raps. I wouldn’t say this is a GFK career defining lyrical presentation but it is way above par and he gets an A+ for a cohesive story throughout all 12 songs about a ruthless black gangster preyed upon and murdered by the evil DeLucca family with his remains being mixed into melted vinyl and pressed into 12 records to be held by the 12 heads of the family. Problem is when the records are played the spirit called the Ghostface Killah rises for bloody revenge. This is Elmore Leonard-Donald Goines-Blaxploitation on wax. On top of that the CD comes complete with a full instrumental version that should really be filed under dark soul rather than hip hop, it has a really heavy plot even without the crazy vocal vengeance. The CD also comes with a “tape” version of the first 11 tracks where up and coming Detroit producer Apollo Brown remixed the whole shit, which has affectionately been dubbed “The Brown Tape” by real rap heads who prefer Brown’s lo-fi all sample-based compositions to Venice Dawn’s attempts to interpolate Younge.