One of the original Wu-Tang workhorses, Inspectah Deck has remained one of the group's most consistent and capable lyricists. And while the solo success achieved by a Method Man or a Ghostface has eluded him, on his fourth LP, Manifesto, Deck shows he isn't ready to abandon the tried and true approach that's brought him this far. After trying out a rapid-fire quasi-Dirty South flow on "Tombstone Intro" (which he reprises in a later interlude), the Rebel INS is quickly back to his old self by track two, "The Champion," delivering a plethora of ghetto images with signature brute force ("I stream machine gun funk, trunk-slayer/Major pain game-hunter") over a haunting Alchemist slow-burner. Next Cormega joins him for the lofty "Born Survivor," which mixes thrash metal guitars and a scattering of excerpts from an Obama speech. Elsewhere, the Staten Island MC does his ghetto love song schtick on "Luv Letter," calling to mind some of Uncontrolled Substance's highlights. Throughout Manifesto's 20-deep track list, Deck demonstrates his capabilities -- though perhaps not much imagination -- behind the boards, as he handles executive production duties as well as personally producing four tracks. His beat on "T.R.U.E." revisits a familiar Gwen McGrae sample but still works as a serviceable backdrop to INS' well-cadenced verses, while the uninspired piano loop behind "We Get Down" sounds like every unremarkable 50 Cent beat that made you press FF. Aside from a few stale beats, Manifesto also sinks to downright embarrassing depths on occasion. The vocoder-tinged hook on "The Big Game" will likely be considered unforgivable by boom-bap purists still on Deck's side, while failing to win over any new fans who prefer the club-friendly efforts of, say, T-Pain or Flo Rida. Similarly, the sleazy pickup rhymes of "5 Star G" come off like an impromptu Jigga-at-his-worst rendition. Still, despite a handful of throwaway cuts, Manifesto has more than enough heat to prove that Deck's mike skills still stand up up to any of his Wu brethren (check INS' juggernaut force flows on "P.S.A." or "Brothaz Respect" to put any doubts to rest). Among latter-day Wu-Tang efforts, it ranks somewhere above 4:21...The Day After but still well below Cuban Linx, Pt. 2.
AllMusic Review by Matt Rinaldi