A more than enthralling sequel...
'12 Reasons To Die II' artwork

The deathly slick hip-hop whodunit has its case reopened. Adrian Younge reconvenes a crack team of grainy organs, dusty jazz drums, sleazy guitar and brass licks, and a plumpness of analogue technique that makes every member of his live band a suspect. The sun-setting suspicions that also did for Souls of Mischief's 'There is Only Now' are part of the thrill of funk being pumped while wearing leather gloves.

Pitched between comic book avengers and silver screen stars at large, Ghostface Killah, with Raekwon as his nemesis, are in their absolute element throughout, benefitting from Younge's dynasty creation rather than trying to untangle Wu-Tang folklore. Call it a sepia-toned revisit to 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx' glories, 'Twelve Reasons...II' sounds a lot older than its supposed '70s setting, despite one of Ghostface's implements of torture being a glitterball on 'Blackout'.

The direct continuation makes you think these latest motives were part of the recording sessions for volume one, and then pieced together without much forensic detail; though the transition means the saga now has the potential to run and run. Clocking in again at little over half an hour long - so the equivalent of leafing through pulp fiction - the maverick private dicks are Chino XL and Lyrics Born, whose longer-winded, analytical flows are both rogues and aces in the pack on 'Death's Invitation.'

Held together again by RZA narrating – played deadpan and making you wondering who he's siding with - it's good old fashioned mobbing and a romantic concept of brutality discussed and dished out by backwater untouchables, double-crossers and hatchet men. The focus from all concerned makes the convincingly grisly fiction a lot of fun.

8/10

Words: Matt Oliver

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