Ghostface's Twelve Reasons to Die and Hip-Hop's Other Audio Films

The Promotional Art for Ghostface Killah's 'Twelve Reasons to Die'

One of rap's most overused cliches is the phrase "my life is like a movie." Significantly much harder to come across are the artists who liken their entire albums to the medium of film. Most recently, Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge teamed up for Twelve Reasons to Die, an album made to sound like an original score for the type of action-packed grimey exploitation films that the original Wu-Tang sound was inspired by. However, Ghost is not quite the first to employ this tactic. While rappers have made soundtracks to their own films, films based on their albums, albums based on other people's films and even songs about making films, not many have made albums that "were" films. In honor of Ghostface's show tonight night at the Gramercy Theatre we decided to take a look back at this unique sub-subgenre to celebrate the other rap "album-films."

See also: Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge Produce an Album That's a Movie

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Three Rappers Who Should Be The Center Square For MTV2's Hollywood Squares Reboot (And One Who Definitely Should Not)

Bring back the home versions of game shows!
Next month MTV2 will debut Hip-Hop Squares, a rap-centric takeoff on the "tic-tac-toe with trivia and celebrities" game show Hollywood Squares. (The non-genre-specific version of the show aired its last episode in 2004.) The show will be hosted by Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg, and MTV has announced a few of the participants already—Nick Cannon, Fat Joe, Biz Markie, and Machine Gun Kelly—but has yet to make public who will be in the center square, which serves as the linchpin of the board and, more importantly, the comedic linchpin of the show. Sure, the reboot is allegedly going to be "more party than game show," and dude-centric-programming perennial Bam Margera is somehow involved. But the tradition of the center square, as established by the ever-acerbic Paul Lynde, is still hallowed, and given its strategic importance in the game it will probably have to be staffed by someone loaded with riffs. (Unless MTV2 goes all crazy on us and turns the "square" into, I don't know, a trapezoid. Hey, it could happen!) Three suggestions for that hallowed spot—and one plea to not use someone who's probably in negotiations with MTV as we speak—below.

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Amy Winehouse's Top Ten Hip-Hop Collaborations

Rappers loved Amy Winehouse. The British warbler might not have collaborated with rap chaps to the extent that Mary J Blige has, but when she passed away earlier this year she did so leaving behind a discernible trail of hip-hop goodies. And the songs suggest there was a genuine bond and shared mentality between Winehouse and her rap suitors, unlike many a cobbled-together rapper-meets-singer tryst.

The posthumous project Lioness: Hidden Treasures, which has input from longtime Winehouse producer Salaam Remi and guest spots from Nas and ?uestlove, comes out this week. Here are Winehouse's ten most persuasive dalliances with the rap world.

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Hip-Hop's Top Ten Otis Redding Samples

"Otis" fever is in full effect, thanks to the Otis Redding-sampling song from Jay-Z and Kanye West's much-ballyhooed Watch The Throne project leaking Wednesday night. The track's production, based around a slick chop of Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness," might be the most impressive thing about the song, what with Jay-Z largely forgoing rapping for doing that breathless thing which suggests not so much an economy of breath control as him realizing that he can mumble anything and fans will still give him pots of money. But anyway. In celebration of "Otis," here are ten other royal rap flips of Redding's music.

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Rap Made Me Do It: Ten Books I Read Because Of Hip-Hop

When rappers reference items they consume--whether Cristal, Clarks Wallabees, or chronic--listeners seek them out, either out of curiosity or a desire to be like their heroes. And thanks to hip-hop's tendency to occasionally serve as an educated, sound-advice-giving older sibling, those references can sometimes motivate listeners to pick up a book. I always loved reading, but sometimes I needed a bit of advice as far as what to check out next, and the literary references dropped by MCs often served as my introduction to new wings of the library. Here, in no particular order, are ten books that rappers have turned me on to over the years.

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The 10 Best Hip-Hop Album Skits

This next joint is getting lit for a tradition in hip-hop long since passed--not Iceberg sweaters, but album skits. There've been so many awful ones that the handful of good ones weren't enough to keep them from going to hell in a backpack. But a few were incredibly vivid--and funny. Of course, it helped if the rapper performing them sounded cool saying pretty much anything, a la Ghostface Killah ("It feel hot at night..."). Or they were performed by Dave Chappelle, who Talib Kweli brought on board to imitate Nelson Mandela.

As you read on, you'll realize that three out of the 10 skits collected here are Wu-Tang related. To anyone tempted to complain about that, I say: Fuck off. I'm from the Wally era.

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Ghostface Killah Is Putting Out A New Album, The Apollo Kids, In December

ghostface apollo tweet.jpg
When we last heard from Ghostface Killah in the full-solo-album arena, he was thoroughly disquieting us with the lurid sex tales of Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City. His just-announced follow-up (via Twitter, of course) is less eccentrically named, at least: The Apollo Kids takes its name from a track on 2000's supreme Supreme Clientele, which is a tremendously good sign, at least. We're sure he'll keep you posted on all the details -- let's hope the severe erotica phase is over. Listen to the original "Apollo Kids" below:

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Of Montreal and Ghostface Killah Played Columbia's $100k Spring Bacchanal

All photos by Rebecca Smeyne

If there's any metaphor for the price tag on elite higher education, just look to its student-run concerts. For Columbia's 250th anniversary a few years back, this alum remembers a blowout that included a no-show by Erykah Badu and one recently-hospitalized Wyclef Jean claiming painkillers as an excuse to scale the stage's light towers instead of performing more than 40 seconds of his songs. This to the horror and amazement of thousands in attendance.

Not to be outdone, this year's annual spring Bacchanal festivities (theme: "Chewbacchanal") reported a budget "over the $100,000" mark" and included performances from Of Montreal, Ghostface Killah, and Wiz Khalifa. ("Spending Columbia's money is very hard to do and takes a long time," the Columbia Spectator quoted Bacchanal treasurer Cleopatra McGovern as saying last week.) Last year's show (uber-famous alumni Vampire Weekend, Talib Kweli) brought in an estimated 1,000 students. This year's budget couldn't buy any performers scaling the stage, but it did afford Kevin Barnes, Ghostface Killah, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, and a white-powdered guy in his tighty whities.

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