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Sixteen years ago on this day, the Wu-Tang Clan dropped it’s second album as a group, following the legendary “36 Chambers” LP. Forget a mixtape this week. I’ve put aside my usual assortment and dedicated this one to tracks only off Wu-Tang Forever. Here are my favorites.                     @codymarcroft

The prolonged wait for Ghostface Killah’s tenth album was filled with anxious hype. Ghostface Killah delivered, however, with yet another fantastic album to augment his solo career. Ghostface cleverly wrote Twelve Reasons to Die; an album that told a fictional story about a mafia man in Italy. The plot was supported perfectly by Adrian Younge’s phenomenal production.

Throughout the album, Ghostface plays the character of Tony Starks, as he declares in the first track, “Beware of the Stare.”

 

“I might shoot ya, make your ass an example/

You can’t f*** with Tony Starks and not get trampled/

Get hunted like a rat in a field; I hate rats/

Hate fake ass n****s that love to set traps.”

 

The story of Tony Starks becomes one of revenge. Starks, who is involved in the mafia, is killed by his people after having an affair with the ‘bosses daughter’ so-to-speak. They toss Starks into a pot of vinyl, and he is melted down and made into a record. Throughout the album it is revealed that Starks has come back in the form of Ghostface Killah on vinyl and proceeds haunt his former crime family, the DeLucas. What happens every time the record plays? Somebody dies.

All of this is evident in the first song, but doesn’t become completely clear until you listen through.

 

 

One of the things that makes the album great is Ghostface’s storytelling ability, tying fiction into music. This is most apparent in the fact that Tony Starks comes back through Ghostface Killah on a vinyl record. But there are hints of other references as well, like in the second track, “Rise of the Black Suits”:

 

“Jay De Lucas put me with the fam to grow/

I was a boss amongst white boys, rocking the flow/

I had hoes, bankrolls and minks by the dozen/

My rise to power was quick, they just wasn’t/

Trying to make me a made man, they f****d up the game plan/

I blacked out on them and started my own clan/”

 

The last line is a clear reference to the Wu-tang. He does it again in the hook, with a reference to “C.R.E.A.M.”:

 

“Follow no family rules, rules are for fools/

Chase the paper ’cause it’s the cash that rules.”

 

The 3rd track, “I Declare War” is where the action rises. Appropriate to the title, this is where Wu-tang army comes in. Masta Killa gets on the second verse and RZA narrates the story with an outro.

 

 

The surge of Wu-tang features and war theme continues on the next cut. U-God and Inspectah Deck hop on the track with a pair of verses. The music stays upbeat. You can feel the revenge of Tony Starks taking shape as the Killer Bees buzz through.

 

 

Just as the action picked up, Ghostface slows down to bring you back into the story. The timing of the change of pace is on point. In the next track, “Center of Attraction” the plot thickens. The song tells about Starks’ affair with Logan, the bosses’ daughter. In the first verse, Starks believes she is perfect for him:

 

“She knew my lifestyle; chick of a crime boss/

She would hide my guns in the house then lie to the task force/

Finished my sentences; knew my exact frame of mind/

Knew everything I had was hers, and she was mine.”

 

But Cappadona enters in the second verse and warns Starks that Logan is a set up girl, and the DeLucas family wants a reason to get rid of Starks:

 

“You think God sent her? Nah, it’s the devil instead/

They got plans for you Tone – they want you dead, dead, dead/

So get rid of that cherry pie pie, she’s mad poison.”

Starks comes back in the third verse brushes off Cappadona, claiming he is too paranoid.

 

 

Everything in this album comes together well. With eleven tracks, it’s long enough to tell the story, and short enough to keep the listener engaged. It’s easy to see why Ghostface has longevity. The production from Adrian was on point, and so was Ghostface’s creativity. Entertainment-wise, this is my favorite Ghostface album. The long wait was worth it.

I won’t give away the rest. Check out the remainder of the album to figure out the ending of Ghostface’s tale.