Fans who have been anticipating a sequel to 2013’s acclaimed first installment can rejoice: Adrian Younge’s and Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons To Die II has finally arrived.
To up the ante this time around, Ghostface has added a very important lyrical sparring partner to the mix: Raekwon. The chemistry that was cemented two decades ago on Rae’s classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is as strong as ever, clearly heard on five out of the album’s 13 songs. And on the topic of chemistry, album executive producer and Wu-Tang patriarch The RZA returns to Part II as the story’s narrator.
“Having Ghost and Raekwon together on multiple tracks is almost like cheating, because they fit so well together,” laughs album mastermind and prime mover Adrian Younge. “Their chemistry is undeniable and they clearly make each other better. RZA established the template for those guys working together decades ago, I’m merely adding my two cents to the legacy.”
Where the first installment of Twelve Reasons To Die was based in 1960s Italy – detailing the machinations of the feared DeLuca crime family – Part II inhabits the grimy streets of mid-1970s New York City. Descendants of the DeLucas are running the city, but a powerful, younger crime syndicate is percolating, commanded by black gangster Lester Kane (personified by Raekwon).
As Kane’s power grows, he takes on the DeLucas, and a bloodbath ensues. Kane has always known the legend of Tony Starks, who was killed by the DeLucas in Italy and whose remains were partially used to create twelve vinyl records. When played back in the “old world,” the Ghostface Killer rose and destroyed the Italian faction. This plays into the story’s conclusion at the end of Part II.
The storyline for Part II is vividly brought to life with the help of Younge’s never-endingly evocative and unique brand of cinematic, psychedelic soul. The music – on which Younge himself plays upwards of 10 instruments on certain songs – was recorded strictly on analog tape, to bring out the true grit of the ‘70s era that provides the Twelve Reasons backdrop.
“This time around I wanted to make a statement with a darker, heavier approach to the composition and sonic landscape,” Younge explains. And regarding his producer / artist relationship with the legendary Wu-Tang MC who is on the marquee, he says, “When I composed the first Twelve Reasons album, I hadn’t spent a lot of personal time with Ghostface. It was constructed purely on my knowledge of him with me as a fan. This time around, the album is based on what I learned from touring with him in 2013. We shared a lot of great ideas and since then have been discussing how we could make the next installment even better.”
Twelve Reasons To Die II is another heavy feather in the caps of all involved, especially Younge and Ghost, who again poured their skills and intellect into this dramatic and engaging tale. It all fits perfectly into the Wu-Tang family tree as well as Younge’s always-expanding musical universe, which now proudly relies on Linear Labs to house it.
SIDE A - SERATO TONE
SIDE B1 - POWERFUL ONE SIDE
B2 - POWERFUL ONE (INSTRUMENTAL)
SIDE A - RETURN OF THE SAVAGE
SIDE B - KING OF NEW YORK
SIDE A - RISE UP
SIDE B - DAILY NEWS
SIDE A - SERATO TONE
SIDE B1 - I GET THE MONEY
SIDE B2 - I GET THE MONEY (INSTRUMENTAL)
SIDE A1 - DEATH’S INVITATION INTERLUDE
SIDE A2 - DEATH’S INVITATION
SIDE B1 - LET THE RECORD SPIN INTERLUDE
SIDE B2 - LET THE RECORD SPIN
SIDE A - BLACKOUT
SIDE B1 - RESURRECTION MORNING
SIDE B2 - LIFE’S A REBIRTH