Album Review | Inspectah Deck – Uncontrolled Substance

This album was released on October 5th in the year of our lord 1999. I have to apologize for the slow rate at which I’ve been progressing in regards to my Wu-Tang marathon. I’ve been focusing on modern releases, so it’s kinda been put on the back burner in recent months. Hopefully I can get through a few more of these albums before I’m flooded with 2022 releases. Anyway, I’m expecting this album to just be okay. Inspectah Deck is one of my favorite Wu members, but it’s not exactly a secret that his solo career never panned out the way it was supposed to. He’d probably be held in the same regard as guys like GZA or Method Man if he was able to deliver a classic solo album, but that unfortunately never happened. If I’m not mistaken, he had a completed or nearly completed album at one point, but it was lost in the infamous flood of RZA’s house. Or apartment. I can’t remember the details. He talked about it in this VladTV interview from 2015…

The fact that his entire first album was lost is pretty goddamn disappointing. That’s one of the biggest shames in Hip Hop history in my opinion. Anyway, even though this album didn’t have the most positive reception, I’m still excited to listen to it. Again, INS is one of my favorite members of the Wu-Tang Clan, so I think this should be solid.

I’ll write about the songs I actually like before discussing the tracks I won’t be returning to. The first song that I actually like is entitled Movas & Shakers. I actually really like the production from the RZA, and the first verse is pretty dope. The hook isn’t really anything special, but it serves its purpose well enough as a break between the verses. There are three verses on this track, and all of them are good.

Motion picture thoughts project in wide screens
Laced off the lime green, duckin' high beams
Swift sword, making fetti out the billboard
Rap pro, throwin' up bombs like Jeff George
Catch me next tour, feel free to explore
Don't sweat me at the door like we met before
Tryin' to dick ride, I'm inside where the chicks hide
Quick slide move, we lootin' the spot

The rapping isn’t amazing or anything, but I definitely enjoyed it. I think he sounds great over this beat. I wish there were more RZA beats on this album, but I’ll take what I can get. This song is followed by 9th Chamber, which I think is pretty good. It’s disappointing though. Honestly, this could’ve been one of my favorite tracks on the album. I love the production from 4th Disciple. The issue is that this song is way too short. Inspectah Deck’s verse should’ve been about 4 times longer in my opinion. He only spits like 8 bars on this track. The song also features La the Darkman, Beretta 9, Killa Sin, and Streetlife, and they all gave pretty good performances. To be completely honest, Inspectah Deck probably had my least favorite verse on this track. It’s not that his verse was bad; I just think the features were really good. I fuck with the song overall, but I think it could’ve been a lot better. Track 4 is Uncontrolled Substance, and it’s got a pretty nice beat from Mathematics. There are three verses from Inspectah Deck on this track, and all of them are pretty good.

My style's so underground, I write rhymes on fossils
Use as directed and wear protective goggles
Shaolin's the borough, rap Picasso
Blow like a hollow-point, foes sure to follow
Pop a bottle forever, can't stop tomorrow
Chewing all food for thought, hard to swallow
Cold like Chicago winds, taps on my convo
El Diablo cross the Verrazano

The one aspect of the song that I’m not crazy about is the sung hook from Shadii. He’s a member of the Force M.D.s, and I’ve never really been crazy about them to be honest. The hook here isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely my least favorite aspect of the song. The song is pretty good to me overall though. It’s followed by Femme Fatale, which is the first self-produced song on the album. Honestly, I can’t decide whether I think the beat is good or terrible. It just sounds kinda clunky to me, but it somehow works. I don’t find the content of this song to be particularly interesting, but I think the storytelling is well done.

Silent moans whisper, the bed's bound to break
Pretty brown face, I thought I felt the ground shake
The sound of the rain against the window pane
Drove her insane, her wild heart has now been tamed
Got half a blunt flipped in the train, waitin' to inhale
Female packed the banger like she been in jail
As we lay, reflectin' on the sweet seduction
A brief interruption occurred, her man busted in

Both of the verses on this track are pretty good, and I think the sample INS flipped for the hook works pretty well. This is far from a highlight on this album for me, but I definitely enjoyed the song to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. It’s followed by another pretty good track entitled The Grand Prix. This song features verses from Streetlife and U-God, who both give pretty solid performances. I think Inspectah Deck definitely rapped the best here though. He spit two verses and both of them were better than those of Streetlife & U-God. U-God probably had my least favorite verse, but there’s not a bad performance on this track. The Formula 1 racing theme is kinda cool. The production from 4th Disciple isn’t amazing or anything, but I think it’s pretty solid. It’s a good song. The next track that I like is called Longevity. This song has one of my favorite beats on the album from True Master. I think the first verse from INS is really great, and I even think U-God did a nice job on the second verse even though it ends kind of awkwardly. The hook is pretty solid, and I’m glad Deck came back in for a third verse.

My rhyme cold winds clear streets and slams shutters
Basic instinct to tear the roof off the mother
Drastic verbal gymnastics, far from the average
Hold the planet like Galactus
Lone Ranger, ancestors rolled with stone bangers
Never met a force deadly as my own anger
Clutch performer, raised on the blood soaked corners
Of real life with real trife heads, they prey on you

This is definitely one of the better songs on the album in my opinion, especially up to this point on the record. I think it’s really dope. It’s followed by the first major highlight on the album for me, which is called Word on the Street.

This song is self-produced, and I actually think the beat is pretty great. The selling point of this song is INS’ actual rapping though. He killed this shit. His flow and rhymes were on point, and I love the storytelling here.

I'm fleein' the crime scene on the Major Deegan
Power steerin', lost the handle and the Jeep spin
Deep in the seat, high-pursuit by the precinct
My co-defendant turned state and let the beast in
They rushed my old Earth lab
Grabbed 50 G's cash and the stash, and let the Glocks splash
Son dash down the fire escape past the weed gate
Thought it was a sting, cocked the Tre' 8

The hook is pretty good, and I think the second verse is even better than the first one. There’s pretty much nothing about this song that I don’t like. Deck killed it on the production and the mic. This shit is dope as hell. The following track is called Elevation, and it’s got a pretty great, yet familiar beat. It’s the same instrumental that Ghostface Killah ended up using for Stay True off of Supreme Clientele. I think Stay True is the superior song, but this version’s really damn good too. I think Deck killed his verse here.

Where I come from, young ones pump jums for lump sums
Bustin' guns, trust none, become son
Crews fells from loose shells that propel where I'm dwellin'
Niggas jail, tellin' what you sellin'
My nigga Tone just came home, been in for 5
The system tried to give him 5 more for gettin' high
Fly Stacy, daddy's little lady fucks crazily
Baby after baby, lost her shape as of lately

The hook is solid too. Honestly, I might have preferred this version if there was another really good verse. I don’t think Stay True completely blows this song out of the water. Like I said, both versions are good. This track is dope. Track 13 is called R.E.C. Room, and it’s got an okay beat from True Master. It’s definitely not one of my favorite beats on the album, but it’s fine. I think INS killed both of his verses on this track. The hook is pretty solid too. The only thing that kinda holds this song back for me is the production. Deck’s rapping is good enough to save the song for me though. I think it’s a good track. It’s followed by another pretty good song called Friction. This track has a pretty nice RZA beat, and Deck sounds great over it.

Swinging like Smokey on the slow beat
Johnny Walker hold me closely as I mosey on the low key
If you don't know by now, you'll never know me
You know me, I swing it to the youngins and the OGs

I’m not really as crazy about Masta Killa’s performances on this track, but it is nice to have another Wu member rapping alongside Deck for once. I think his relatively laidback delivery sounded good, but he didn’t rhyme as well as Inspectah Deck did in my opinion, and his flow wasn’t anything special. The hook on this track isn’t really anything to write home about either. The song is good overall though. I like it. The following track is called Hyperdermix, and it’s another one of the better songs on the album in my opinion. I really like Deck’s production on this track—he really impressed me as a producer on this album. He killed all of the verses here too.

Never before have you ever heard this level of raw
My metaphors touch down like the hammer of Thor
Knee deep into the war, sirens and gats roar
Livin life, ragin' bull, life's the matador
I soar, above the law, branded illegal
They still rush my door 'cause I'm power to the people
Sharp as an eagle's claw, certified lethal
Keanu Reaves can't match the Speed I exceed to

I even like the hook, which samples Wisdom Body by Raekwon. There’s really not a single aspect of the song that I dislike. Once again, I think he killed it on the mic and the boards. The song is dope. It’s followed by a major highlight for me called Show n’ Prove.

This song is produced by The Blaquesmiths, and the beat is pretty solid. That’s not really the main selling point of the song for me though. The reason I like this track so much is that it has some of the best lyricism on the whole album. Deck killed this shit.

The wicked ways of the world can't escape sin
I'm facing master's gun on the plantation
Sing songs from home yet I'm still caged in
'Cause 9000 miles is such a long way to swim
And many die tryna survive the next mile
Families was raped, enslaved, and exiled
I learned it as a child, knowledge be the key
To unlock your brain and set your mind state free

All three of the verses are beautifully written in my opinion. I’m not really crazy about the kind of goofy vocals on the hook, but they’re nowhere near bad enough to significantly decrease my level of enjoyment for this song. I think this shit is dope as hell. The closing track is entitled The Cause, and it features Streetlife. I think the production from Deck is okay, and same goes for the simplistic hook. The main reason I like this song is just for the actual verses from Deck & Streetlife. They both rapped very well on this track, especially Inspectah Deck. Out of all the beats that Inspectah Deck provided to this album, this track probably has my least favorite one, but I wouldn’t say that it’s bad. The song’s pretty good overall. Those are all the tracks that I like from this album, so now I’ll talk about the songs that I won’t be returning to. The first track that I don’t really care for is actually the Intro, which is self-produced. INS doesn’t really rap on this track. He kinda just says some random bullshit at the beginning, and then there’s a pretty uninteresting skit that I don’t give a fuck about. The track isn’t really bad in any particular way, but there’s really no reason for me to listen to this again. The next track that I won’t be returning to is called Forget Me Not. Again, I don’t think this is a bad song at all. I just don’t really care for the production from V.I.C. I thought it was kinda cool at first, but it got really old by the time the song ended. As far as Inspectah Deck’s performance goes, I think he did a pretty good job. This song is kinda similar to Femme Fatale in that I don’t really care for the content, but I think the storytelling is well done. INS had a nice flow and rhymed well too. It’s an okay track, but it just lacks replay value for me personally. Track 11 is called Lovin’ You, and it’s definitely one of my least favorite songs on the album. With that said, I still wouldn’t say that it’s a bad song. It’s just very mediocre to me. I honestly think that the beat from True Master is kind of terrible. It sounds like ass. Inspectah Deck & La the Darkman rapped well on this track, but I just don’t really care for the content.

I met a bad chick, model actress
Soft as a mattress, said she was catholic
Physically attractive, earth-toned skin
Thick but thin, looked like she just came off an island
Rolled in Porsches, lady was gorgeous
I'm trying to ram bar down her mental fortress
Loved my name, La song, how'd you like to have my 4th born?
I'm the God, I'll be your umbrella in a storm

Again, it’s not a bad song. Deck’s verses are really well-written. I don’t really think La’s verse is anything special though, and the production is really bad to me. It’s a mediocre track overall. It’s followed by Trouble Man, which is actually produced by Pete Rock of all people. I’m not really sure how I feel about the beat though. Pete Rock has honestly never been one of my favorite producers. It’s not a bad instrumental, but it’s far from my favorite on the album. I think the first verse from Inspectah Deck on this track is pretty great honestly. I just don’t really care for the sung hook from Vinia Mojica. Her vocals aren’t particularly bad. I just don’t like the melody or the piano keys that come in during this part. It’s kind of a shame that I don’t care for this song sonically because I think Deck killed all three of the verses. It’s not a bad song, but I can’t really say that I enjoyed it overall. It’s just okay to me.

This is a good album. It’s pretty much exactly what I expected to be honest. Well, I guess it’s slightly better than I was expecting it to be actually. I think the main reason this album suffers is that the production, while good at times, isn’t really up to snuff with some of the best Wu-Tang releases. It definitely could’ve used more RZA beats. It also kinda sucks that there wasn’t that much participation from other Wu-Tang members. Guys like Ghostface, Rae, Meth, GZA, and ODB are nowhere to be found. INS rapped well on all the verses here though. I actually don’t think there’s a single wack verse on the album. I enjoyed the project overall. It’s just not as memorable as it should’ve been. It’s still good though, and definitely worth listening to if you’re a big fan of Inspectah Deck.

Favorite Song: Show n’ Prove
Least Favorite Song: Lovin’ You


Grade: B-

One comment

  1. Well as subjective as ears are …your review is definitely off to me. First off you should start reviewing albums that are already released. As the 90’s reign supreme…the new one dimensional mumble porn rap should be hung out to dry, as it will NEVER hit the spot of hip hop.

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