Hip Hop

Adrian Younge Presents Twelve Reasons To Die II (CD)

Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah and producer Adrian Younge deliver the second installment of their cinematic Twelve Reasons to Die series, and it's got more drama than your average summer blockbuster. A combination of voiceovers and lyrical content tell the story of black New York gangster Lester Kane, with Shakespearian levels of vengeance, star-crossed lovers, evocations of violence and resurrection. Raekwon provides the voice of Kane as Ghostface and others, including Vince Staples, Bilal, RZA, Lyrics Born and Scarub, provide the narration. None of this would matter if the music itself wasn't as strong as it is. There's a full dedication to telling these stories, which can be a bit familiar, that comes through in the venomous spit on tracks like the Staples-starring "Get the Money" and creative cadences on "Death's Invitation." Composer Adrian Younge's score, full of horror movie organs, Blaxploitation basslines and Spaghetti Western orchestral touches, is as fun to get lost in as the script. Taken together, the Twelve Reasons to Die albums succeed as concept albums because of their easy-to-follow, singular subject matter and that the music doesn't suffer as a result of a weighty plot. Now someone call up Quentin Tarantino and let's get this thing made into a movie.

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Lantern (CD)

Glaswegian Electronic / Hip-Hop producer Ross Birchard releases his second album to date under the Hudson Mohawke moniker. His follow up to 2009’s Warp debut, Butter, sheds light on what the producer has been doing with his time. Lantern, first and foremost, is a Hudson Mohawke record. So all of the successes he has seen, be it with his collaboration with Lunice TNGHT or the stellar production he has done for Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, are just illuminated pieces of the whole. "Very First Breath," the first single off the album, blends bass and synth with a trap pace. Whereas "Scud Books" takes that same synth and pairs it with an epic, bone-crushing bass and string section. Both indicative of what HudMo can do, but utilized to do only his bidding. Even powerful featured vocalists like Miguel on "Deepspace" or Jhené Aiko on "Resistance" are put in their place and forced to blend with Birchard’s at times atonal vision. Needless to say it’s phenomenal. Lantern proves that Hudson Mohawke can drop bangers not only as a hired gun, but as an electronic auteur as well.

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