Review Summary: "You can't take over the truth behind the story, let Ghost legend live on in all its glory."
Continuing on his steadily prolific stream of collaborative outings this past year, Ghostface Killah has once again joined forces with composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Adrian Younge to deliver the much-desired sequel to the duo’s highly praised 2013 concept album, Twelve Reasons to Die
. Twelve Reasons to Die II
shifts the setting of the story from ‘60s Italy to ‘70s New York and the focus from a tale of love and revenge to one of just plain gruesome revenge, but setting aside the album’s plot, not too much has changed on a purely musical level since we last saw these two at work. Younge’s production offers more of the same vintage film score-esque beats that are as cinematic as they are gritty, and Ghostface’s vicious delivery helps him appear about as inspired and invested in his character as he was on the first chapter. Here Ghostface sounds less on autopilot like he has on his last few projects and proves that he can still effortlessly paint vivid portraits of organized crime and graphic violence while never losing track of narrative details.
With both Younge and Ghostface performing consistently, it’s a shame that the abundance of guest features and prevalence of very short tracks on Twelve Reasons to Die II
results in their contributions feeling underwhelming and not taking prominence on their own album. The real star of the show here is Raekwon as mobster Lester Kane, as hearing him rap alongside Ghostface for the heft of an album while playing a leading role within the context of a story-driven concept grants this sequel an additional layer that Twelve Reasons to Die
did not possess, and it also recalls the level of chemistry the two Wu-Tang brothers had on landmark albums such as Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
Despite this major benefit, however, Twelve Reasons to Die II
is lacking in replay value. The amount of interludes and narrations done by RZA scattered throughout and the brief overall running time of about a half hour leaves little room for thorough songs. The concentration was definitely more on the plot for this sequel, and this renders the album limited in the satisfaction that can be derived from listening to it. Twelve Reasons to Die II
ultimately operates effectively as a conceptual piece rather than a songful album, and it’s most rewarding when listened to in its entirety during a single session. The only problem with that is that there’s nowhere near twelve reasons to return to it once you know how the story goes.