Wu-Tang Wednesday: "Method Man"

I apologize gratuitously for my recent absence from the blog. The past two months for me have been filled with me jumping through hoops tracing Jackson Pollocks filling out job apps that have no remote chance of being read by HR, interviewing, and partaking in the true Grail Quest of attempting to find affordable New York housing (Legend tells that it can be found somewhere between 110th Street and El Dorado. Somewhere between the Hudson and the Sands of Ilium).

When Alan Moore wrote The Killing Joke, I'm now fairly certain that it was meant to be an allegory for trying to find an apartment in Gotham. It's enough to make even the sanest man go crazy. But now that I've miraculously survived the process unmurdered, with a small shred of my sanity, and without having to part with any organs on Canal Street, I'm back to bring hip hoppery to the people.

I may be working 10-8 most days with a couple of night classes per week, but, now that my partner-in-crime Carver Low and I are in the same city, we can better guilt kindly push each other to post more often. My goal is to have at least one post per day for you good people.

I'll set it off with what will be a weekly series honoring what is arguably the most influential hip hop collective of all time: The Wu-Tang Clan. The posts will showcase stellar songs from the Wu's immense discography of group and solo albums as well as featured tracks, remixes, and rare unreleased songs and freestyles. Think of it as a friendly hump day reminder for Shaolin devotees to Protect Thy Neck. Hit the jump for the first post to Bring Da Ruckus:

From the slums of Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan strikes again. The RZA, the GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, and the M-E-T-H-O-D Man.

If the Meth and Raekwon horrorcore skit (which retroactively became even more hilarious with this Chappelle's Show skit) doesn't hook you, the GZA spoken intro before he hands it off to Meth has you all in for "Method Man." From the intro onward, everything about this song is perfect (the skit would prove highly influential to horrorcore emcees like Eminem, Celph Titled, and Vinnie Paz).

Meth delivers two verses and a bridge touching on everything including but not limited to his predilection for not eating peanut butter ('cause I'm not butter), pattycake, Dr. Suess, Looney Tunes, Silence of the Lambs, forties, Mary Jane, and getting it in. The fact that he delivers his lines in a sing-song voice, at times scatting nonsense sounds and referencing children's rhymes, lends to the effect of "Method Man" being the most absurd nursery rhyme ever.

Every member of the Original Nine had their own unique identity that contributed to 36 Chambers being one of hip hop's most revered holy texts. RZA/Razor was the beatsmith who's raw, sparse soundscapes painted as bleak and hopeless a picture of inner-city life as any verse on the album. GZA/Genius was perhaps the most gifted emcee who's Liquid Swords would go on to be the most critically acclaimed Wu solo album. Raekwon was the rugged muscle who's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., along with Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, is held as one of the two seminal albums of mafioso rap.

Ghostface (who appeared on every song on OB4CL) was the consistently great master who, while perhaps not quite as talented as GZA in his prime (if we're nitpicking), has really carried the brunt of the Wu-Tang legacy over the past decade. ODB (may he rest in peace) was the massive wild-card, who's absurd half sung, half rapped style brought a change of pace and energy to 36 Chambers that was largely missing on later group albums.

Inspectah Deck, while falling into the shadows cast by his fellow founders, gets credit for having my favorite Wu verse ever. U-God is the one who got shot (twice actually, the first time on the skit before "Tearz," the second time on an OB4CL skit) and Masta Killa is the one who gets forgotten (he only appeared on one verse in Enter the Wu-Tang and was even forgotten in the GZA's intro to "Method Man"), but still retains founding member status.

But people forget that, in 1993, it was Method Man who seemed destined for stardom. 36 Chambers may have been the team result of the Clan forming like Voltron, but it was Method Man who was given his own opportunity to shine on this, the only solo track on the album. It was Meth, not Nas nor Prodigy nor any of a host of talented NY-rhymers, who was deemed the only emcee worthy of appearing as a guest on Biggie's Ready To Die.

Meth used these appearances to springboard into Tical, the first Wu-Tang solo album and a classic in its own right. But his solo debut gets lost when placed next to Liquid Swords, OB4CL, or ODB's absurdist/genius Return to the 36 Chambers. Meth's star solo career never quite materialized after that, though he did release a pair of massively underrated albums, Blackout! and its sequel, with Redman.

Meth can still spit with for the best of them but he will forever have that period between 1993 and 1995 when he absolutely dominated the rap world.

Peace, Love, & Protect Thy Neck,
Ghostface Noah


No comments:

Post a Comment