“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... 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.”
These words come from Method Man, the most well-known artist from the collaborative group Wu-Tang Clan. His mixture of irreverent rhymes and raucous humor have become his trademarks.
Method Man was born Clifford Smith on April 1, 1972 in Hempstead, Long Island, New York. As a child he spent his time split between his parents on Staten Island and Long Island. His father introduced him to drums, rhythm, and poetry. This would be an interest that would follow him into adulthood. In addition, Method Man was and still is an avid comic book lover, reading and collecting all styles and types.
This love of comic books is reflected in the list of aliases which he uses when performing, many of which originated from comic books. Before his success in the hip-hop world he was on a track of dead-end jobs and drug-dealing. Hip-hop changed the course of his future. Once he became well known for his ability to rhyme, he joined eight friends, forming the Wu-Tang Clan early in the 1990s.
As Wu-Tang Clan achieved stardom, Method Man became one of the most visible members. He was one of only two to perform a solo on Wu-Tang's debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers (1993). He was the first member to release a solo album under an unusual contract which allowed the Clan's members to release albums under any record label, with Method signing with rap icon Def Jam.
His solo debut, Tical (1994), was well received and critically acclaimed, debuting on the American charts at #4, eventually selling over one million copies. He then collaborated with Redman and Mary J. Blige on a series of hits, with his duet with Blige, I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need winning a Grammy. In addition, he made an appearance on the single Got My Mind Made Up from Tupac's album All Eyez on Me. Method Man also became close friends with The Notorious B.I.G. during this time.
Method Man toured with Jay-Z, DMX, and Redman. During this time, Method Man & Redman released Blackout! In 1997. This was a light-hearted party record with an emphasis on the mischievous wit, cool flows, funky beats, and good rhythm of the two.
Star on the Rise
Method's second solo release, Tical 2000: Judgement Day (1998), was apparently heavily influenced by the theories of apocalypse which surrounded the Y2K craze. This album featured a large number of guest appearances, everyone from his fellow Clansmen to D’Angelo, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Mobb Deep, Chris Rock, Redman and millionaire Donald Trump. This release was even more successful than his first. However, reviews were mixed, citing its long running time and the number of comedy skits between songs as the major criticisms.
In 2004, after returning to recording to Wu-Tang Clan for a period of time, Method Man released Tical 0: The Prequel. This particular album was not as well received by critics. There were numerous mainstream artists appearing on the project, such as pop-rap stars, Missy Elliott and P. Diddy. Critics accused the album of being generic rap and party rap, which had not been Method's style in the past. The influence of executive producer P. Diddy and Def Jam Records was problematic for Method. He felt that Def Jam took too much control of the beats.
In the second half of 2006 Method and Def Jam released 4:21: The Day After. This was a very strong album but, it did not do well commercially due to lack of publicity and a single release. While Method blames personal agendas at Def Jam, he did somewhat take blame, for giving in to the label. In 2007 Method Man's organization leaked the single New York New York which became popular on the internet through mp3 music downloads.
In 2009 Method Man again paired with Redman for a second album, Blackout! 2.
Did you know that...
- ...Method Man appeared in the first episode of Season 1 of the MTV reality/game show, Yo Momma.
- ...Method Man is the first of the Wu-Tang Clan to produce a series of graphic novels for Hachette Book Group.
- ...Method Man has appeared in at least 11 different TV shows, many multiple times and 18 movies. In addition, he has produced, directed, and written for both movies and TV.