Apollo Brown

12 Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape

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Since the original Twelve Reasons to Die was so damn perfect, Apollo Brown's remix of the Ghostface and Adrian Younge collaborative effort is certainly unnecessary, and if you want to take the hard line, you could even argue that it's obtrusive. After all, the original is a wild and rare meeting of the minds, where film composer/fly dude meets Wu-Tang member/solo favorite for a crafted concept album guided by the '70s Italian murder mystery/slasher film genre known as giallo, but like the great works of art that came before it, that comic-book-on-wax still stands up to some inspired stretching. Like Duchamp messing with the Mona Lisa, or Jay-Z's The Black Album going Grey with the help of Dangermouse, Detroit producer Brown offers some alternate-universe excellence with this funkier and dirtier version of the original, dropping Younge's giallo motif for something that's still '70s, but more Shaft and soulful. R&B horns light the blaze on "I Declare War" while "Rise of the Black Suits" slides into the scene with the most downtown and jazzy set of guitar riffs. Banging beats and tightly cut loops make "Murder Spree" easy to shoehorn into any modern mixtape when the original would have seemed obtuse, but as much as Apollo shrugs off the usual genre rules, Ghostface's inspired rhymes and storytelling still hold the album together. Even if it's messing about with a classic, it's loving messing about, and maybe even humble, as this "Brown Tape" was originally released as a cassette-only curio sold exclusively on Record Store Day. Excellent word of mouth got it liberated to official release, and while it's all warranted and welcome, make sure to check the original first.