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The reason I have both of these in the same post is they’re essentially the same album, but with different production. The Brown Tape, produced by Apollo Brown, has some more traditional hip-hop sounding beats, making the album more accessible so you can bump it in your car and jam with it in the background. The original Twelve Reasons To Die album, produced by Adrian Younge (the composer for Black Dynamite, one of the best comedy films of this current decade), sounds completely different from anything Ghostface Killah or any other rapper has done before. I think the reason for having two different versions is because with the original album, you need to give all of your attention to it when listening, the same way you give all of your attention to the stage when seeing a Broadway musical. Ghostface Killah took his already legendary storytelling abilities to a whole other level with this album.
Twelve Reasons To Die tells the fictional story of a gangster, named after Ghostface’s Tony Starks alter-ego, who gets involved in organized crime and rises in the criminal underworld. He is then betrayed and killed, but comes back as a ghost whenever one of his twelve vinyl records are played, and begins killing off the twelve crime bosses behind his murder (he becomes The Ghostface Killer). This is the synopsis of what could be a film or Broadway musical, but we get it in audio format, where we get to use our imaginations to dream up the visuals. The Adrian Younge version of the album sounds like you’re actually sitting and watching a musical on stage, with a full orchestra and choir, while the Apollo Brown version sounds more like you could be watching an animated film with lots of soul samples, hip-hop beats and scratches.
When we talk about the greatest storytelling-style rappers of all time, names like Ghostface Killah, Slick Rick, Nas, The Notorious BIG, Andre 3000, Eminem, Redman, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube come up, and arguments could be made for all of them. With this new album though, I think Ghostface actually separated himself from everyone else and claimed that undisputed #1 spot; everyone else could reasonably be argued as #2. Everyone mentioned and more have made great story-styled songs, but none have made a story-style album that sounds so focused and to the point like Twelve Reasons To Die. They also haven’t made one like this where it could be adapted into a musical and expanded upon outside of hip-hop (it has already been made into a comic book series). Twelve Reasons To Die is another achievement Ghostface can be proud of in his already legendary career.
My Joint (Adrian Younge Version):
My Joint (The Brown Tape):
My Grade (based on how well I connected with it, no disrespect if your experience was different): A-
Come back to my blog tomorrow to see which album or mixtape came in at #7 on the countdown!
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