Inspectah Deck - Uncontrolled Substance

Word On The Street

Poor Deck. This one comes right after the Wu peak, and might actually be a demarcation point of such. Their formula has become familiar, so the “Up from the 36 Chambers!” intro and the competent but generic beats sound like Wu By Numbers. (“Squeeze Box”? Sadly no, but that might actually be a clever concept to update for a hip hop gun metaphor song.) Even Deck’s flow is starting to sound stale – he employs a very structured rhyme technique, rarely deviating from the skillful but ultimately tedious style of Socrates philosophies and hypothoses. Within a collaboration track, he slots in perfectly, but on his own Deck gets exposed as the most bland of the Wu crew. Not that this is a bad album – Pete Rock slides in for “Trouble Man,” which adds some welcome funk to the insular Wu style, and Deck’s own production work (“Word On The Street,” “Femme Fatale”) has a unique, offbeat style that serves the album well. Still, this one came about a year too late, when underground hip hop tastes were changing (see Mos Def, MF DOOM) and the original Wu sound was becoming outdated. I get the sense that if it had been given the Cappadonna spot with similar production, Deck’s debut would be remembered as the last of the original classic Wu solos. As it is, Uncontrolled Substance is competent but uncompelling, lacking the atmosphere and inspiration of the ’95-’98 Wu sound. Damn you Cappadonna! * shakes fist at The Pillage CD *

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