Wu-Tang heavy-weight Ghostface Killah has teamed up with producer Adrian Younge for the sequel of their gangster-concept album series 12 Reasons to Die. Tony Stark (not to be confused with Iron Man’s alter ego) is back, this time counter the crime family leader Lester Kane, as Stark has to avoid his fatality after falling in love with the mob boss’ wife.
Ghostface’s admiration and love for a powerful storyline and cinematic dramatics is no secret – after all Pitchfork Media, NPR, About.com, and other media platforms have all titled him one of the best storytelling rappers ever. Fellow Wu-Tang members RZA and Raekwon have accompanied each other interchangeably with movie projects, and concept albums, becoming well-versed in theatrical storytelling. Both RZA and Raekwon make a number of appearances on the new album, at times out performing Ghostface on his own collection (“King of New York”, “Life’s A Rebirth”).
12 Reasons to Die II flows fairly smoothly, similarly to turning pages of a comic book. Younge’s shadowy production glues the storyline together with dramatic intent, allowing the rapper and his collaborators the opportunity to perform.
Up and coming rapper Vince Staples is featured on the album (“Get the Money”), along with frequent collaborator Chino XL, and Scarub. Voicing different narrators and characters, their lyrical contributions heighten the plot and all its twists, making 12 Reasons II not only an engaging story, but also a high-calibre hip-hop album.
Without giving away any spoilers, Ghostface Killah hints at the possibility of a third chapter of 12 Reasons to Die. If it is anything close to the sequel, that is something to be excited for; Ghostface, Younge, and their guests have composed a brilliant and captivating concept album. The New York Times has the full collection available to be streamed and enjoyed.