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by
12 June, 2004@12:00 am
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      On the “Intro” to Method Man’s Tical 0: The Prequel, RZA waxingly laments “peace to the Wu-Tang family/ten-years strong/over 40 million records sold/platinum and gold/and the saga continues.”  But is the Wu-Tang Clan movement really being furthered?  After all, RZA recorded nearly a full-LP worth of material with Meth for Tical: 0 and all he has to show for it is one lone production credit—Ghostface and Raekwon are the lone members of the Clan to make cameos.  And while movies, sitcoms, commercials and late night TV co-hosting gigs have made Method Man a household name, it has come with strings attached; as it’s been six-years since the Clan’s former undisputed star released his last solo-LP (and three-years since Wu’s Iron Flag).  Yet, long hiatus or not, Tical 0 is just the latest script Mr. Meth should have taken a pass on (How High, anyone?). 

     While Meth was out securing movie roles and pilots, the food-chain at Def Jam underwent a dramatic shift; one that no longer sees Meth being the priority he once was.  And because of that he chooses to play Tical 0 very close to the vest, forgoing the grimy side of his exterior for a more commercially palatable script.  In doing so, not only does Meth follow the whims of his label and every imaginable trend in order to re-establish a fanbase, this once elite emcee rehashes rather outdated metaphors like “I’m #1 like P.E or Tracy McGrady” on “Say What” all of which suggests that the usually smoked out Meth is literally burnt-out and uninspired.

     While turns with Ghostface (“Afterparty”), Busta Rhymes (“What’s Happenin’”, which recreates the subterranean feel of “Bring The Pain”), and “The Turn” w/ Raekwon and RZA’s soulful production are more essential, Meth rarely goes it alone (which zaps one of his primary strengths as an emcee, that being his gift to craft memorable hooks), as he infuses a plethora of high-profile collaborations that lack chemistry; Snoop Dogg  and Redman sound bored over Denaun Porter’s best Erick Sermon imitation on “We Some Dogs”, the frenetic guitar licks of “Rodeo” are more suitable for Ludacris than they are for Meth, and Missy Elliott continues to dig into the Wu’s pockets joining Meth on “Say What” where P. Diddy and Tony Dofat’s rudimentary bounce fails to make a lasting impression.  Likewise, Meth displays his “Big John Stud” flow on “Tease” and while Chinky’s R&B chorus is sappy, it’s interesting to hear how NO I.D.’s production continues to shift and this bubbly track will ensure ID gets more commercial looks in the future.   

     While there are guests aplenty, Meth implements just as many producers into the fold (fifteen to be exact), which conveys a disjointed and uncohesive sound; exemplified by the mismatched crunky Cali bounce implemented on the Jelly Roll produced “Who Ya Rolling Wit” and the Rick Rock touched “The Prequel”. Both of which are very weird and unsettling, as Meth flows over some funky Cali beats.

     Though Meth is now a fixture on the silver screen, few urban artists have been able to play both sides of the fence without losing their identity.  And Meth’s return is no different, as he seems to be afflicted with the same disease (wack records) that some of his cohorts (DMX, Ja Rule) have contracted after seeing their star rise in a different medium.  Whether or not, Tical 0: The Prequel was the LP Method Man intended to put out; only he knows?  And while Tical 0 has achieved its desired goal, huge opening week sales numbers, the end result sounds as if Meth is just the latest former lynchpin sacrificing artistic integrity for his labels bottom line.

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