by Alex Shtaerman
For over a decade he’s been the public face of the Wu-Tang Clan. From crossover hits, to feature films, to HBO, Mr. Mef has long been at the forefront of the Wu-Tang sphere of influence. Whether rhyming alongside fellow blunt brother Redman or with his Wu family, Method Man’s gritty lyricism and unmistakable baritone has massaged eardrums from Shaolin to Singapore. Ushering in the mid-90’s era of Wu-Tang hysteria as the Clan’s first bona fide solo star, the Grammy Award winning MC insured the subsequent successes of his Wu-Tang cohorts, giving rise to perhaps the greatest dynasty in Hip-Hop history.
But as is often the case, widespread acclaim can also lead to harsh criticism. With his brand new album, 4:21…The Day After, Method Man seeks to complete a full recovery from the 2004 debacle of Tical O: The Prequel, a seemingly misguided attempt by his record label to revise the time tested Wu-Tang formula with less than favorable results. Returning to his roots on 4:21, Meth shines over production by Rza, Eric Sermon and Mathematics, reassuring fans of what the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard made so clear nine years ago: “Wu-Tang is here forever motherf*ckers”.
Read review of Method Man’s opening night to kick off 2006 tour.
See pictures from Method Man’s opening night on 2006 tour with Inspectah Deck & Masta Killa.
See pictures from Wu-Tang Clan show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom.
See pictures from Wu-Tang Clan’s 2004 concert at Continental Airlines Arena.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You worked with Rza quite a bit on 4:21…The Day After. A lot of fans are really excited about that, but as far as your record label, was Def Jam supportive of your decision to work with Rza? I know you’ve had some differences with them in the past.
METHOD MAN: I haven’t had any differences with them… well, yea. But, um, yea they were supportive. [Rza] was the first name I said when I spoke to [Jay-Z], when he signed off on the budget [for the album].
RIOTSOUND.COM: How would you characterize Rza’s contribution to the album?
METHOD MAN: I’m happy with the outcome but I think he could have had a little bit more input but he was busy at the time.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You recently said that being independent is the best alternative for many artists in today’s climate; can you elaborate on that?
METHOD MAN: Well, I myself wouldn’t go that route. But other artists who have done well for themselves – if they get out of their contracts and they still got a marquee name – they can do all kinds of shit like go out on their own tours and still make money that way. If you put out your own album and sell your own units like Ice Cube did it, you’re bound to make a shitload of money; the money that the record label would make if you were still signed with them. But [me saying that], was an answer to dudes gettin’ into the game and wanting to get in the game; I’d say, stay independent first and foremost man, work your angles first. Do most of the work before the label even touches it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Why do you think going the indie route wouldn’t be a good a fit for you?
METHOD MAN: Because I’m not ready like that yet, I’m just an MC man. I don’t wanna have to worry about distribution and marketing and all that other extra shit that comes with it. And then you gotta know all these people and all that. I mean, you can hire people to do it for you. But right now I just wanna MC.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got an absolutely ridiculous track with Redman on your new album called “Move On”. With that kind of chemistry still clearly apparent between the two of you, is it possible we may see another Redman and Method album?
METHOD MAN: You have to ask Def Jam about another Redman and Method Man album. But as far as chemistry, when you work with somebody for like a decade, ya’ll pretty much know the ins and outs of each other, so its comftability first and foremost when we go in the studio. And a track like that smells like a Method Man, Redman track, [it’s] just hard.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How did the actual song come together in the studio?
METHOD MAN: It was a no-brainer, when I heard the shit I was like – I want Doc on this one. That’s pretty much it; ain’t no real story behind it. We’ve been working together for so long that it’s like, there’s no mystery anymore.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got one of the most energetic stage shows around; you literally walk on top of the crowd at some of your shows. How much concentration does it take to rhyme while you’re doing that?
METHOD MAN: Well, you know, once you in the zone, you’re in the zone. I always had a lot of energy but it hasn’t always been as focused as it is now. I used to jump in the crowd in the first song. The whole show be out in the crowd and shit. But over time I developed [a sense] of how a real show should go, especially performing with Doc and watching other dudes do their shows. Some of the greats like [Busta Rhymes]; he’s real dope when he does his shows. He doesn’t have to be way animated with it, he just does Busta and plus it doesn’t hurt that he got a gang of fuckin’ hits under his belt. What I bring to the stage is basically what I bring to the game, period. Lyrically, acting, everything, it’s that energy level. I feel like when people see you on stage they [should] wanna see the video [of it]. I feed off [the fans]. If they mad amplified, I’m gonna be even more amplified.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Inside the album cover for 4:21 you got a picture of you and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard from your early Wu-Tang days; what do you miss most about Dirty?
METHOD MAN: I miss his sense of humor, just everyday with everything; him talking about the FBI out to get him. Dirty was a piece of work man, he’s always been like that, just the phenomenon that was Dirt Dog.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Looking at Hip-Hop now, it seems like a lot of the flavor of the month type artists might be losing some credibility. In your view, is real Hip-Hop ready to return; how do you see the landscape of it from where you’re at?
METHOD MAN: I mean, it makes for good drama and good writing when people say Hip-Hop is falling off and all that shit. Hip-Hop is bigger than it’s ever been. It used to be just east coast and west coast, now it’s mid-west, down south, Australia. Everywhere is rocking with Hip-Hop right now. Plus we dress people’s kids; we’ve been doing that for years. On the other hand people are basically talking about the content of the music. I mean, what the fuck, everybody wanna dance now. I have no problem with that; you gotta have a ying and a yang. It’s like when motherfuckas was flashing too much, niggas got tired of that shit. But [at the same time] you gotta have flashy niggas, it’s all Hip-Hop. Then it was the grimy shit; people got tired of the grimy shit [too]. It all goes in cycles. The lyricism is still there, you just gotta know where to find it. And if ya’ll want it at the forefront, support it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: We’ve been hearing about the possibility of a new Wu-Tang album for about two years now; it’s something the fans really want. When do you think we’ll finally see it?
METHOD MAN: I ain’t talking about it, I’ma be the first one to go in and just start the shit, you heard me. I’m supposed to be meeting up with Rza on Thursday.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What are you and Rza going to be talking about on Thursday?
METHOD MAN: We ain’t gonna talk about shit, we just gonna go in and work. Knock some shits out. Then whatever other Clan members wanna join in, come on. I’m just gonna set it off, fuck talking. We ain’t gotta have no more meetings, let’s just go in and do the fuckin work. And I’m gonna be the first person to go in and start. I’m going in, I’m laying the hooks, I’m fuckin doing the verses. If niggas don’t like the hooks, redo the hooks over, as long as we got something. It’s time man, fuck this shit. I don’t give a fuck if we don’t sell another fucking record, as long as we do this. We gotta do this album for us.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You and Ghostface borrow your alter egos of Johnny Blaze and Tony Starks from comic books; how much is the Clan into comics?
METHOD MAN: Nah, Ghost didn’t even know who Tony Starks was until somebody put him on to him… well [actually], I think he did. I don’t know man, I’m the comic book dude, them dudes don’t read comics. I’m the only comic book nigga in there.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Who are some of your favorite comic book artists?
METHOD MAN: I always liked Arthur Adams, Umberto Ramos, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld. Todd [McFarlane] did the best Spiderman. Liefeld, shit, what was it that he used to do… [pauses for a few seconds to think] X- Force.
RIOTSOUND.COM: I think Liefeld used to do Savage Dragon too.
METHOD MAN: No, Eric Larsen does Savage Dragon.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Yea, yea, that’s right.
METHOD MAN: You testing me brother; you testing me?
METHOD MAN: But I’m definitely an avid comic book reader, I have to catch up though. Right now I’m into other gritty shit like 100 Bullets, The Watchmen, shit like that.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got the new album, 4:21…The Day After, in stores now; what else should the fans be looking out for as far as Method Man goes?
METHOD MAN: Just look for 4:21, a lot of people don’t even know it’s in stores, which is boggling my mind but it is what it is. I just want people to go out there and check for me. When you in the record store its like – where the fuck is Meth at? I’m right there on your shelves, go pick me up and take me home. I am in stores right now.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Def Jam has in a sense dropped the ball with promoting your album; do you think it was somewhat of a business decision being that you are a well established artist, so they figure you don’t need a lot of promotion?
METHOD MAN: Wow, that’s a good way to look at it but I have no idea, I’m not at liberty to say. That’s a question you would have to ask Def Jam. But if you ask me, I think I coulda been a little bit more seen than I was before the album dropped.
For more news and info on Method Man stay tuned to Method-Man.com and WuTangCorp.com