Rapper and card-carrying Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah is once again coming to the Triangle on Thursday to do a show, as part of a tour promoting his latest album, “Twelve Reasons to Die.” He’s bringing along his newest collaborator, a cat by the name of Adrian Younge. While the name may be alien, especially to Ghostface fans, once you hear his story, you might start wondering why they haven’t gotten together sooner.
If you saw the hilarious, 2009 blaxploitation parody/salute “Black Dynamite,” you’re aware of Younge’s work. Not only did Younge compose the quasi-retro score, he also edited the film. (He also scored the first season of the animated TV show version of “Dynamite,” which airs on Adult Swim.) When he isn’t owning and operating the Artform Studio, Los Angeles’ only record store/hair salon, the Angeleno musician/DJ/producer does other musical projects that have a cinematic flair about them. In 2011, he released “Something about April,” an album of psychedelic soul that had Younge channeling everyone from Portishead to Ennio Morricone to – surprise! – the Wu-Tang Clan.
Younge got the call from Soul Temple Records -- the label co-run by Wu-Tang founding father RZA -- about producing Ghostface’s latest. “Yeah, I mean, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do with someone of his stature,” says Younge, who turned 35 this week, calling from the road. “And he’s one of the best storytellers in hip-hop music, you know. He’s always been that great storyteller guy. So, it’s one of those things where it kind of fell into my lap and I had a job to do.”
Considering Ghostface’s knack for detailed, descriptive rhyming, Younge had the idea of taking Ghostface’s on-the-mic character Tony Starks and transporting him to a more stylish, dramatic time. Younge says he even wrote a script that served as sort of an album blueprint for Ghostface and himself. “Basically, I wanted the story to sound like an old, Italian soundtrack,” he says. “So, basically, I put Ghostface’s character in the late ‘60s in Italy. So, I wanted him to be the same type of person he would’ve been had it been the nineties or 2000s or whatever, kind of like a hard gangster type.
“It’s an interesting perspective that I felt would inspire him to write,” Younge says, “and it definitely did.”
Ghostface isn’t the only artist Younge has collaborated with lately. He also produced “Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics,” the latest album from the revered, ‘70s soul-singing group (who will be performing at the Carolina Theatre at the end of the month). Technically, he only worked with one person – longtime lead singer William Hart, who owns the Delfonics name. “I started talking to Hart through Twitter,” he remembers. “And, then, the next day or a day after we talked on Twitter, I was speaking to William Hart. I mean, we hit it off immediately to the point where he flew to LA to record this album with me. … To me, it’s always been a dream to do an album with someone like the Delfonics and, when the opportunity arose, I had to take advantage of that.”
Much like he did with Ghostface on “Die,” Younge created an album and incorporated Hart into that world. It’s more like an Adrian Younge album than a Delfonics album. “I didn’t want to just do something that they would’ve done before,” he says. “I wanna incorporate something they would’ve done before and try to push it forward, you know. I’m not interested in rehashing music. I wanna always make something new and progressive.”
Even though he’s touring with one of hip-hop’s most thugarific MCs, Younge continues to stay new and progressive, performing his distinctive compositions with his own band, Venice Dawn.
“I want people to know that I’m that guy that just didn’t make music for money,” he says. “I’m that guy that made music because I wanna stimulate the listeners’ minds and cultivate and maintain a fanbase because of my art and artistic perspective.”