There were a few years recently where Ghostface seemed to be going through an existential crisis of sorts. Fishscale made him into a critical darling all over again, while The Big Doe Rehab found him treading water, hoping to trade that acclaim in for some crossover appeal (especially on the wings of Fishscale‘s great single, the Ne-Yo backed “Back Like That”). When that failed to materialize, he groused publicly in interviews about people not buying his albums and his reticence at doing hip hop for much longer. This period ended with his decent attempt at a sexed-up R&B album, 2009’s Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry. His work since then (Apollo Kids, Wu-Massacre, and now 12 Reasons To Die) seem to harken back to his golden age, when gritty hip hop production was king, and Ghost was the undisputed master of detail-rich mafioso rap with a sense of humour. That is to say, Ghost seems to have rediscovered his edge. 12 Reasons is by no means an innovative album (Adrian Younge is the producer here, but RZA is the “executive producer” and guess who it ultimately sounds like), but it is an album that remains sharply on point. The concept is entertaining as well; based on a comic book, it features a 1960s Italian mafia man named Tony Starks who is murdered and comes back as Ghostface Killah, a revenant hell-bent on vengeance. If that sounds familiar it should; it’s familiarity is one of its strong suits. In a world that seems to demand constant change, it’s nice to know that Ghostface will always be there, with a blackly hilarious gangland tale to spin.