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Decas hardly a hip-hop newcomer, having served time with Elemental and Prana, and his years on the scene enhance his latest solo album. On Shot in the Dark, for instance, his voice echoes with experience while relating the tale of a performer who pays the bills by doing cover songs at bars and weddings/Might as well load up the revolver and call it quits.

Fortunately, the only triggers Deca pulls are figurative, not literal. His images are vivid and palpable, and hes matched word for word by guest rhymers Yonnas and Ichiban on the dramatic Character Study. As a bonus, the musical backdrops created by producers such as Gunther B., at whose home studio the tracks were laid down, give old school a low-budget refresher course. Nothing & Everything and Sheepskin use jazzy loops to soulful effect, while the title cut juxtaposes a robotic rhythm with mournful brass and lyrics that name-check Herman Hesse, of all people. Its a worthy disc, from Top to Bottom.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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