Thursday, October 30, 2014

Revisiting Inspectah Deck's "Manifesto"

Inspectah Deck has long been considered one of the most underrated MCs, in the Wu-Tang Clan specifically and hip hop in general. I also crowned him as the "master of the opening verse,"and you can check out that post below.

Furthermore, outside of his excellent 1999 debut, "Uncontrolled Substance," the remainder of his discography, 2003's "The Movement" and 2006's "The Resident Patient," respectively, has not matched the quality of his debut. In the early part of 2010, I honestly had no idea this was even coming out, until I saw a few people talking about it on a forum I participated in. A few days later, I went to my local FYE and bought the album, a "blind buy," which is a term used when you buy an album without hearing anything on it first. The last time I bumped this, I remember liking it a hell of a lot more than I did when I first listened to it. Let's see if that same sentiment is present right now!

Release date: March 23, 2010

1. Tombstone Intro
Produced By J. Glaze

As you know, I usually don't rate intros, but sometimes I make exceptions. This is one of those exceptions, and while brief, it's good.
*4 out of 5*

2. The Champion
Produced By The Alchemist

I always thought this Alchemist produced banger was dope, but the effect is somewhat ruined with the totally obvious off-beat, KRS-One sampled hook. 
*4 out of 5*

3. Born Survivor
Featuring Cormega
Produced By MoSS

Deck and guest Cormega, another underrated talent, bring a political touch to this one, complete with audio clips from President Obama.
*4 out of 5*

4. This Is It
Produced By Dtox

Although this one sort of ends abruptly, it's still a pretty good song, which finds Deck riding the beat which such ease and confidence.
*4 out of 5*

5. Luv Letter
Featuring Fes Taylor and Ms. Whitney
Produced By Inspectah Deck

The "songs for the ladies" was all but a cliche at this point, however, Deck's version was nice. Even with staying on the grind as far as the business was concerned, he still had time to pen this "luv letter" for his lady. I could've done without Fes Taylor's verse though, so with that being said, Deck's two verses and Ms. Whitney's hook justify this rating.
*4 out of 5*

6. P.S.A.
Produced By Lee Bannon

This came off like an interlude more or less, but it's still decent, clocking in at 1:44.
*3 out of 5*

7. T.R.U.E.
Featuring Meshel
Produced By Inspectah Deck

Again, we've heard songs like this before, but when done right, they can be very good. Case in point: always stay true to yourself and what you believe in.
*4 out of 5*

8. We Get Down
Produced By Soundsmith Productions (Y-Not)

A good, fast paced song with a West Coast vibe that didn't sound out of place.
*3 out of 5*

9. The Big Game
Featuring Raekwon and AC
Produced By Mental Instruments

I get what they were going for here, but this song, especially the beat, sounded like something you would've heard on the radio at that point (and even now when I think about it), and I don't mean that in a good way. Rae's verse was ok, but Deck sounded like he'd rather be anywhere else but on this track.
*2 out of 5*

10. Tombstone Interlude
Produced By J. Glaze

This is a continuation of the intro, just as dope too.
*4 out of 5*

11. 9th Chamber Part II
Produced By Inspectah Deck and Khino

The album's best song right here. You can look at this a few ways, either Deck was competing with himself, he was rapping to himself complete with an "alter-ego" type theme/sound, or perhaps both. Dope song all around featuring some very creative editing along with the dope lyrics.
*5 out of 5*

12. Really Real
Featuring Carlton Fisk and Fes Taylor
Produced By Inspectah Deck

Remember Carlton Fisk from "Mr. Sandman" and "P.L.O. Style" on Method Man's "Tical?" Well, after seemingly being M.I.A. for the longest time, he shows up for this one with Deck and Fes. It's decent, nothing special.
*3 out of 5*

13. Serious Rappin'
Featuring Termanology and Planet Asia 
Produced By Mike Cash

What do you get when you put three underrated MCs on the same track? Something dope and that's what we receive on this apply titled song.
*4 out of 5*

14. Do What U Gotta
Produced By Flip

I don't want to come off like I'm repeating myself, but this is another good, apply titled song.
*3 out of 5*

15. Crazy
Produced By J. Glaze

This one finds Deck turning to his introspective side. Granted, he's not saying anything entirely new, but the "life can be crazy, but you just gotta keep pressin' on" theme is present here and it makes for a very good song.
*4 out of 5*

16. Gotta Bang
Featuring Billy Danze and Kurupt
Produced By Shorty 140

This was very good song, with a West Coast vibe to it. I feel M.O.P.'s Danze stole the show with his closing verse.
*3.5 out of 5*

17. The Bad Apple
Produced By K. Slack

I'm sure we have heard songs like this before, and while Deck said nothing new or brought a fresh perspective to NY, it's still another very good song.
*4 out of 5*

18. Brothaz Respect
Featuring Cappadonna and Fes Taylor
Produced By Cee The Architek

Again, this covers another subject that's been done better (and with a little more inspiration quite frankly). This almost came off as a showcase for Cappa and Fes Taylor, the latter I'll have more to say about later.
*3 out of 5*

19. 5 Star G
Produced By MoSS

Deck was a little more flashy, if you will, on this one. The hook was forgettable as well.
*3 out of 5*

20. The Neverending Story
Featuring Pleasant
Produced By Agallah

The subtitle for this pretty good closer was "the life and times of Inspectah Deck," no doubt. I can truly say this didn't close the album on an anti-climatic note.
*4 out of 5*

All things considered, this was a very good album, 4 stars, however, I found myself liking it a little less during this revisit, just a little. The last time I bumped it, I had it in my ride and I recall liking it more than I did when I first played it, but this time around, things were different, not quite sure why though. Deck was still lyrically sharp, but the production could've been better in spots, plus it seemed like Fes Taylor was all over this album. He's not wack or great, but just ok for the most part and his presence didn't help that much. In addition, this album fell SO far under the proverbial radar in 2010 it's not even funny and aside from myself and the others who were talking about it in the aforementioned forum I briefly mentioned earlier, I'm not sure if the rest of the world knew about this, and that includes the die hard/long time Wu-Tang fans. Overall, it's his second best album after "Uncontrolled Substance," but that's not saying much. Give it a listen if you've never heard it before.

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