June 3, 2008

Drink Coasters: Inspectah Deck - The Movement (June 10, 2003)

Wow, haven't done one of these in a while. Rapper Jason Hunter of the Wu-Tang Clan, whose Christian name is Inspectah "Deck" Simonson, wasn't yet privy to the solo successes that were lavished amongst his more popular bandmates, as his debut album Uncontrolled Substance, which was released on Loud Records, didn't really sell as well as everyone else's. The disc was criticized as sounding "four years too late", as most magazines put it, so it wasn't much of a shock when he was sent packing from the label, only to turn up as the groundskeeper and softball coach for the other rappers in the Koch graveyard. A second shot at stardom, The Movement, was quickly recorded and released.

Unfortunately, the only movement this album compels is walking toward the stereo, removing the disc from the CD player, and facilitating its movement into the garbage disposal.

Plainly said, this album is awful. Inspectah Deck made the unwise decision to commission beats from outside sources like Fantom Of The Beats and Ayatollah, and while that isn't a terrible thing, all of the beats sound like thirdhand knockoffs of better, more successful songs. With these crappy musical backdrops, Deck is reduced to appearing as a guy playing catch-up with the rest of the hip hop game, instead of the hip hop veteran that he actually is. Songs such as "City High" (which does not feature Claudette Ortiz, sadly), "That N---a", and "Big City" might appear on someone else's album to showcase a world littered with soul samples and rough living with the promise of promise coming down like a bright light, or a giant light bulb, but on The Movement it's simply included to fill a fucking quota. In fact, the instrumentals for "That N---a" and "Big City" sound so similar that it took me almost five minutes to realize that the beat had changed in the most minute of ways.

Oddly, part of the problem with The Movement is Inspectah Deck himself. The guy has undeniable skills on the mic, as the majority of his Wu-Tang verses and guest spots would attest to. Shit, even though Uncontrolled Substance wasn't that great, it still had its moments ("Show & Prove", especially). The ironic thing is that The Movement was titled as such to indicate that the album was representative of a "movement" of the hip hop sound from the commercial world back into its underground apartment in his mother's house, but the final product itself features some of the most blatant dumbing-down of Deck's lyrics and subject matter that it may as well be played on the radio, except that nobody would play it since it sounds, as I said before, awful. Specifically, piffle such as "Shorty Right There" (which features Wu-affiliate Streetlife) and "Bumpin' and Grindin'" illustrate the Rebel INS's ill-advised attempts to somehow show up the mainstream by trying to sound mainstream himself, and failing at it. "Bumpin' and Grindin'" is actually supposed to be a track for the clubs: who the fuck let the Wu into the club, anyway?

Ultimately, that would be the real problem that I have with The Movement: it represents Deck's movement from within the comfortable couches of the Wu Mansion. (Participation from the Clan is limited to the aforementioned Streetlife and Killarmy's Killa Sin, and one song, "It's Like That", is produced by Arabian Knight, but that's all.) I can understand the need to branch out, since Raekwon essentially did the same thing with his terrible sophomore effort Immobilarity, but as most people seem to forget, Raekwon's rhymes were actually pretty good, it was just the beats that failed him. The Movement, in contrast, is the total package: bad rhymes, worse beats, and a free pissed-off demeanor for anyone unlucky enough to be subjected to it.

If Inspectah Deck were a solo artist without any Wu-Tang affiliation whatsoever, and he came out of left filed with The Movement just like some of these underground cats do today, critics would believe him to be an average rapper with a poor ear for backing tracks. But, since he has the Wu brand on the back of his neck, there's a higher set of expectations for him to meet, and he appears to not have even fucking tried. However, since this is the Wu I'm talking about, I'm fairly certain that someone will call me out in the comments, saying that The Movement is the best album in the history of time and that I can go fuck right off. My two readers, I implore you: please don't let those Wu-colored glasses fool you.

As a final note, I will state that there is actually one decent song on the entire album: "Framed", which features Kool G Rap and the aforementioned Killa Sin. G Rap's line "Fuck that, you and the D.A. spit shine the balls" is good enough to almost make me not regret dropping fifteen bucks on this drink coaster, but that doesn't mean that you need to do the same. Avoid this if at all possible.

-Max

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4 comments:

  1. Is inspectah deck the one who can't pronounce 'R's properly? I have to say I'd approach any solo wu efforts with caution (although Liquid swords is one of my all time favourites) and Deck is probably one who i'd be most cautious about - i've never felt the urge to listen to this one even though i quite like the cover!

    Also I actually just steer clear of any of the 'wu affiliates', i dont know if thats bad, should i give any of them a chance? I tend to think of them more as tribute bands?!

    Your review of 'Forever' made me go and buy it...

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  2. I have to say that i like most of Ayatollahs beats here - always digged his style in general - but i think the problem is Deck himself, he just aint fittin over this. The result is he aint grabbin no attention - and if so, in a bad way! Bumpin n grindin? WTF! But actually i think this album is still way better than The Resident Patient... sadly!

    PS: I m just perchance listening to Zion I - True & Livin while i write this, if you dont know you should def check it out! Peace, FLX

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  3. yeah, I agree with flx. Ayatollah's beats are good. It's just that Deck is... boring.

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  4. Thank God CZARFACE dropped sounding the way it did, cause it woke Deck the fuck up from a 10 year crap streak. Yes, I'm including Manifesto in that fucking garbage bin he calls a discography.

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