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Inspectah Deck: Uncontrolled Substance

Album: Uncontrolled Substance
Label: Loud

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In The Wu-Tang Clan's eccentric constellation, Inspectah Deck is nowhere near the biggest star. Lacking the charisma of Method Man, the demented charm of Ol' Dirty Bastard, or the conceptual and production genius of RZA, Deck is a solid veteran, but he lacks marquee power. That might have something to do with why his long-awaited solo debut is so sturdy: Unlike other members of Wu-Tang, Deck can't really rest on his laurels or indulge his eccentricities the way ODB or RZA can. Which is good; Uncontrolled Substance is as well thought out and coherent as ODB's new album is lazy and incoherent. Lyrically and stylistically, it fits in well with the rest of the Wu-Tang universe. Sonically, with the exception of the punchy, horn-fueled, danceable "Movas N Shakers," Uncontrolled Substance is rooted in the classic Wu-Tang sound, with producers RZA, True Master, Allah Mathematics, and Deck himself contributing tracks consistent with its spooky, effects-tinged minimalism. Lyrically, Deck offers a reflective take on the standard Wu-Tang subject matter, mixing a bleak, impressionistic view of urban life with spacier Five Percenter leanings and a surprising number of songs about women, from the sweet "Lovin' You" to "Femme Fatale," a film-noir-styled narrative. Uncontrolled Substance is surprisingly solid, with Deck in fine form throughout, and it serves as an impressive standout amid an endless stream of Wu-Tang-related releases.