Solo albums from original Wu-Tang Clan MC’s are a curious martial art all their own. They don’t follow the conventional hip-hop spinoff rules everybody is familiar with, many of which were elaborated on at length in last week’s Icewater review. Some Clan member solo albums have become more legendary than the group they roll with; from Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” to GZA’s “Liquid Swords.” Others have everything in the world going for them based on the talent of the rapper going in but completely miss the mark due to mismatched beats and a lackluster effort – Method Man’s “Tical 2000” and Rae’s “Immobilarity” come to mind. Still others are hideously embarassing efforts where other Wu MC’s try to salvage a losing effort and fail miserably – sorry U-God, guilty as charged. There’s no way of knowing when you buy a Wu solo album what to expect. The Clan’s top lyricists can turn a bad day into a whole bad album while lesser regarded rhyme masters take advantage of the freedom to deliver their own zany brilliance in full living color – the late great ODB comes to mind.

Inspectah Deck seems stuck at the nexus point where all these different options converge. Unlike other original Wu members he doesn’t have an excessive clique of imitators and proteges looking to get put on. That’s definitely a plus – a Deck solo album tends to be mostly about Deck and nobody else. He also has the advantage of being one of the most well regarded rappers in the Clan – some would rank him right at GZA’s level, others just below him or perhaps Ghostface (who can overcome seemingly nonsensical writtens off the sheer strength of his charisma). Nonetheless he’s top tier level in an already deep crew and in any other clique he would easily be the best rapper in the cypher. For whatever reason though Deck’s solo albums are always “just there” – they’re never hideously awful and they’re never all-time rap classics. “Uncontrolled Substance” was one of the longest anticipated of all Wu solo releases, but I’m honestly hard-pressed to tell you one track off the top by name even though I didn’t hate a single thing on it. “The Movement” fares better just because it came out more recently and had a stellar title track but still managed only be “above average” on the whole. For many rappers that would be a compliment but people expect more from Rebel I-N-S. “The Resident Patient” definitely shows promise on tracks like the Kevlarr 7 produced “Get Down Wit Me”:

“They wanna get with the kid, I give ’em the biz
That’s what this is, splitting ya wig, living it big
Ain’t try’nna see prison or bids, I’m got to get this
I’m in your crib, son, I did it to live
Been sick since the crib, now I’m this big, flip wigs
The main reason money lost his wiz
Put some money on the wood, I need atleast six figs
For some money in the hood, watch the hoods get biz
It’s the good shit, kid, not the twenty or gram
Them fishscale, tip the scale, kill a gram
I’m choppin’ on the plate, bag it up, like weight
Had you fiending like Dave Chappelle in Half Baked
The last of the great, I crash and cause quakes
Got the cash it takes, I might flash my face
Slash breaks with the fader, watch ’em fascinate
Straight, pull off a caper, snatch cake and break, nigga”

The horny horn funk and Deck’s opening condemnation of whack radio shit definitely set the tone. As always the Inspectah proves himself an incredibly strong narrator, painting a verbal picture that reads like a Hollywood movie script. “No Love” rides some dark 1970’s style blaxploitation beats courtesy of The Marksmen, and Carlton Fisk is one of the closest things to a Wu fam cameo on the album. The other is U-God on “Handle That” and despite the knocks I gave him earlier he turns in an acceptable (if somewhat silly) hard cock hard rock performance. Still there’s little doubt given Deck’s heavy dominance on this CD that he’s ought to give rap fans “What They Want”:

“I know the code, I’m a capital G., still surviving lowkey
Brain shifting, pitching out of the V
Bottom line, you got a problem with me, my name pop in the V’s
Fuck a watch that got property deeds
I don’t talk, won’t spot me with D’s
You can spot me at the spot, with the next top model from Queens
East side six rider, won’t stop at the freeze
Where them, coppers’ll squeeze and them boppers is G’s
Where it’s regular to serve the curb, when I splurge the word
Now break bread, break birds in thirds
Whose y’all I never heard y’all herbs, never burnt ya herb
I run circles, all you work y’all nerves
I’m a legend watch me work my swerve, on the verge to surge
You understand it, if you learn the words”

Deck also shows a surprisingly deft hand with self-production on his “Wu-Tang for life” declared track “Get Ya Weight Up”:

“Daddy rich, bitch magnet, I hand you a fix
Spit bricks on the mix and make the avenues flip
Cali grips on the regular, beretta’s a fifth
Jumping out, nappy whips, watch ya neck & your wrist
No question I’m reppin’ my click, specialist
From the young’ns to O.G., checkin’ for this
Play hard on the graveyard shift, cigar split
Far quick, when the shit jump off, you heartless
This is S.I.N.Y., Killah Killah Hill
10304, home to gorillas in the field
Yeah, what up all my niggaz out there
10304, home to gorillas in the field”

Unfortunately those looking for Inspectah Deck to finally cross from “above average” to “FUCKING CLASSIC” they will once again be dissapointed with “Resident Patient.” For whatever reason there is a surprising lack of Wu-affiliated producers on this album. RZA is nowhere to be found, and even secondary producers like Mathematics and True Master are nowhere to be found. The sound is definitely missed and Deck stays at that same point he has throughout his solo career – consistantly lyrically sound but lacking memorable verses outside the Clan group context. Songs like the ironically named “My Style” make the point perfectly – they don’t really highlight his style at all. “The Resident Patient” is another in a long line of Wu solo albums that the devotees will have to include among their collection but casual fans who only buy one album here or there probably won’t miss at all, and that’s a damn shame.

Inspectah Deck :: The Resident Patient
7Overall Score