“All I do every day is listen to raw-ass shit made by musicians and composers,” Adrian Younge told an interviewer recently, citing the immersive research that informs his sumptuously retro productions. “This is crazy, high-end shit produced at Capitol Records back in the day.” The L.A. multi-instrumentalist, producer, record-store proprietor and all-purpose sonic archaeologist wasn’t blowing smoke; he’s in the process of crafting a crate digger’s dream of a discography—drawing equally on early-’90s Wu-Tang Clan productions, mid-’60s Morricone soundtracks and blaxploitation funk—resurrecting lost arts while spurring his heroes to new milestones.
Given his prodigious abilities and connoisseur’s taste, it’s no wonder Younge has become an ace career jump-starter, a Rick Rubin for the soul and hip-hop sets. This past March he issued Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics, a handsome showcase for Philly R&B legend William Hart; a month later came the even more impressive Twelve Reasons to Die, a masterfully moody concept album featuring Ghostface Killah. Younge took an auteur’s approach to the project, constructing an elaborate story that combines Mafia intrigue with supernatural horror; the Wu-Tang all-star, a model leading man, complied with bling-flaunting braggadocio, heady sensuality and, finally, pure bloodthirsty mania.
Ordinarily, the notion of translating such an elaborate project to the stage might seem iffy. But audiences are in good hands with Younge, who’ll back Ghostface along with Venice Dawn, his wrecking crew of vintage-groove specialists, joined here by Hart himself. Raw-ass shit, coming right up.—Hank Shteamer
Follow Hank Shteamer on Twitter: @DarkForcesSwing