Ghostface never really fell off. Sure, Wizard of Poetry was a weird R&B debacle, and Apollo Kids had some good songs on it, but when you’re the guy who made Ironman and Supreme Clientele, some good songs isn’t nearly good enough. It’s hardly a coincidence that Ironman and Supreme Clientele, his two best records, are the only two Ghostface albums executive produced by RZA. While most of the Abbot’s beats haven’t exactly been helping his legacy over the last few years, his vision and ability to oversee an entire project hasn’t really diminished. That RZA is executive producing Ghostface’s new album Twelve Reasons to Die is just one of several reasons why it’s one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Two other reasons: First, the album is produced by Adrian Younge, the sonic architect behind the amazing soundtrack to Black Dynamite and his own Something About April album. Younge produced the Delfonics’ new album, their best since their self-titled album in 1970. The backing tracks on Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics sound like the kind of things that RZA would have sampled on the first round of Wu-Tang solo albums. Adriane Younge has become better at channeling the classic RZA sound than the RZA is these days, and he’s able to do it without sacrificing his own style in favor of rote imitation. Fittingly, the Delfonics appeared on “After the Smoke is Clear,” one of the best songs on Ironman, and will also be making an appearance on at least one song on Twelve Reasons to Die.
The other reason to be excited is “The Rise of the Ghostface Killah,” the first track released from the album. RZA delivers a great spoken intro, and the kung-fu soundtrack beat sounds it could have been an Ironman bonus track, while Ghost is spitting criminology raps and non-sequiturs with an urgency unseen since at least the Fishscale days. It sounds like Adrian Younge would probably have done a better job of scoring The Man with the Iron Fists than the RZA did. If the other Wu-Tang members that guest on this record sound this good, and Trife and Sheek Louch don’t show up to drag down any of the songs, we’ll have a Wu-Tang classic on our hands. Hopefully the other generals have Younge’s number in their rolodexes.
Twelve Reasons to Die is out on April 16.