Ghostface Killah’s position as raps heralded Godfather has long been sealed. Being the good-giver that he is, Ghost continues to churn out records at an alarmingly admirable rate. The latter end of last year offered the largely disappointing “36 seasons” while he released this year’s collaborative effort with Toronto-based Badbadnotgood. “Sour soul” albeit delivering solid fusions of jazz and soul instrumentals, it lacked the visceral cutthroat story telling of past records.
The release of the follow up to 2013’s joint album with Adrian Younge, “Twelve reasons to die” therefore arrived with a certain element of relieve attached to it. That being, TRTD I accompanied by Younge’s masterful production had Ghost doing what he does best: conceptual, well-told stories; which were musically accompanied by orchestral, cinematic live instrumentation.
TRTD II continues the story of Tony Starks, the fictional character embodied by Ghost who is murdered by the Deluca family for striking out on his own. His remains were then burned into ashes; to be pressed into 12 vinyl recordings. The subsequent ending of TRTD I see’s the soul of Ghost rise up with a lustful eagerness for revenge.
The opener “powerful” begins with sprouting, exploding bass, which then recedes into two tender female vocals; a sombre, yet innocent contrast to the bloody intertwined labyrinths of blood splatter that is to follow. “Return of the savage” arrives with the introduction of Raekwon whose fictional place within the story is that of “Lester Kane”. Another Drug mob, locked in heads with the DeLuca family, and is enlisted by Ghost to avenge his murder. Veteran Wu member RZA appears with vocal narration explaining the plot nicely. This feature serves its purpose well as it appears several times to keep us in tune with the story.
The plot, if we can call it that, progresses nicely till we arrive at “Let The Record Spin”. Where Ghost is made aware that his wife who betrayed him earlier in TRTD I birthed a son belonging to Ghost. He then proceeds to inherent the soul of his son to live as flesh. This alluding to the possibility of TRTD III
LA Based-Producer Adriane Younge’s mix of soul inspired bass lines; snarky, crisp snares; alongside blues-like piano chords align with the cinematic ambitions of the album. They are full of carnal tension, with a Frankenstein air of spookiness; take the opening organ sounds of “blackout”. One could mistake this for the soundtrack of a late 20’s silent horror film.
TRTD II succeeds when its approach to storytelling telling is direct; it also feels larger, more epic than its predecessor; however Ghost can be accused of lacking the subtleness of past classics such as “fish scale” or “Ironman”. Lines such as “tear the DeLucas down/like the legend of tone starks’’ in the track “Get the money” fail to leave much left to ones imagination. Thematically, TRTD II stretches as far as the story and there lies no deeper whirlpool of meaning left, other than a strong lust for revenge.
‘Twelve Reasons To Die II’ is released on the 10th July 2015.