The Making of Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge’s “Twelve Reasons to Die”

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The Creative Process:

Younge:
 I started writing music because it takes place in Italy. My background in music is really hip-hop, but it is more European soundtrack-y, psychedelic hip-hop soundtrack type stuff. So obviously, I wanted to skew my shit a little towards that. I started making music that was very dark and Italian. Ennio Morricone meets David Axelrod type stuff like real cinematic compositions with hard beats and a funky bassline. When I was writing it, in my head I was like, ‘Well, this can go with this story. This can go with that story.’ In two weeks, I wrote. I mean, Bob he kicked my ass. He said, ‘I need this by this time.’

I wrote the foundation for those 12 songs in two weeks. I was never able to work that quick. But the thing is when you have inspiration, it just kind of falls out. So in two weeks, I sent him roughly 12 tracks. For those tracks, I wrote a script out. I was like, ‘Ok, this is the Ghostface theme. This part must talk about this. This must talk about that.’ I gave it to Bob. Bob looked at the script and gave his touches to it. They sent it to Ghost. Ghost came back and personally exceeded my expectations.

Perry: Also, Ghost twisted it up. We sent him the script. ‘Ok, here’s the concept. These are the points that you needed to touch for each record.’ It wasn’t like … we didn’t tell him, you know, say exactly this. It was more like, ‘Ok, here is the broad strokes of the story. Song one should be about the come up. Song two should be about being the man. Song three should feel like being disconnected. Song four you are at war. Song five you fall in love.’ So we are very broad, but somehow with his engineer, some of the tracks got twisted up. In other words, we had imagine that it was gonna be this song. You know, song one became song eight. Beat one became song eight. Once we got everything back from Ghost, we had to figure out how to manipulate in such a way that it holds the story. It’s kind of like a collaboration, but it’s not a collaboration between two people sitting around a typewriter saying, ‘Hey let’s do this.’ It’s almost like a long distance romance. [Laughs]

Ghostface Killah: We started with a few tracks first, working on the direction and which way to go, and we started just getting more good and more good, and then we just wound up doing 12 records and came up with Tweleve Reasons to Die, with a theme behind it. Basically, I get involved with the mafia and making money, then I start fuckin’ one of their bitches, and they don’t like that shit. They fuck around and kill me, but before they kill me, we’re going to war and all this other shit. So they got me, killed me, threw me into a pot of vinyl and melted me down, and now every time someone plays that record, someone gets killed off—you know what I mean? That’s it. It’s so different. The world is going crazy for the shit. It’s something that I never really did before, but I’m good for writing stories and going into shit.