Artist: Method Man
Album: Tical 0: The Prequel
Label: Def Jam
Rating: 2 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
So what’s the deal here? As Wu-Tang Clan members continue to erode their legacy with downright shite releases, only Ghostface continues to hold any relevance to Hiphop fans of today. Method Man, already under the cynic’s eye for trying to fool everyone into thinking that “Tical” and “Tical 2000” were anywhere near good records, has a lot of work to do to convince people that any longplayer with his name on it is worth their hard earned. Famous, or perhaps infamous, for blowing up guest spots while his own material suffers, the omens weren’t good for this new Meth joint on the eve of its release, when, in two separate interviews he proclaimed it as “his best album yet” (which really ain’t saying much), and then turned around and said he wasn’t happy with it at all. Amidst conflicting rumours it seems that label heads at Def Jam opted to put out a different version of “Tical 0” – a version with only one Rza-produced cut, as opposed to the original album-full.
If these rumours are to be believed then obviously the retail release IS the Def Jam version – only one Rza cut is here (‘The Turn’), and other producers include the exceptionally hardcore P. Diddy, as well as E3, No ID, and Denaun Porter (aka D12’s Kon Artis.)
The outcome? A patchy, uneven mess. The long list of different producers is rivalled only by the longer list of guests, with Method Man only holding down a criminal THREE tracks out of seventeen, by himself.
Things don’t start off too badly, with the Rick Rock produced ‘The Prequel’ thumping nicely, albeit a little too glossily. Putting the beat to the side for a second though, and focusing on Meth’s lyrics reveals an emcee showing up simply for appearance money – his flow is lazy, he’s emceeing by numbers, and his hunger for the mic, so evident in his early career is no longer there. Unfortunately this level of performance is the standard, not the unfortunate exception, throughout “Tical 0.”
Def Jam’s blueprint for modern day album success calls for club happy, hook heavy hits ad nauseaum. ‘Say What’ fulfills the criteria perfectly – four minutes of mindless tripe from Meth, and guest Missy Elliott, with the usual “That’s right” adlibs from Puffy dropped in at convenient intervals. Horrid.
‘What’s Happenin’ may well be played out by now, but thankfully DJ Scratchator’s rapid-tempoed production breaks up the mindnumbing monotony of the previous cut, and the following one ‘The Motto’. For those unaware, ‘What’s Happenin’ provides a burst of near-classic Meth, as he reworks his style from ‘Bring The Pain’ (and indeed reworks the video), urged on by Busta Rhymes. Unfortunately, ‘The Motto’, as already mentioned, drags things back to a crashing halt, with Nashiem Myrick’s pedestrian beat barely stirring Method Man out of his sleep-rapping. Terrible.
As the album continues, different emotions bubble to the surface. On one hand this album is so awful, that its hard to stifle a laugh at a fallen ‘legend’ – on the other hand however, with this being so painful to listen to, its difficult not to feel a little sympathy for Meth, especially if Def Jam have shafted him on the final tracklisting. However the question does have to be asked – if he wasn’t feeling these tracks and these producers, then why work with them in the first place?
‘We Some Doggs’ is utterly terrifying, as it sees three of Hiphop’s favourite sons – Meth, Redman, and Snoop Dogg, reduced to rambling mindlessly over a second-rate funk track that would be more at home in an A&R reject pile, than on a major label’s main artist’s album. Absolute shite.
RZA does pull a burner out the fire for ‘The Turn’ which sees both Meth, and another fallen Wu soldier, Raekwon, BOTH sound rejuvenated over a well placed Miracles sample muted chimebells. Its so frustrating to listen to this though, and know that if he actually puts in the work with the RIGHT people, then Meth still has a lot to offer. ‘The Turn’ actually ushers in a little mini streak of three songs in the middle of the album, that rise above the bollocks on the rest of it. Following RZA’s work, No ID another respected producer, with barely a blot on his copybook, chops up a familiar Lenny Williams sample to provide the backdrop for ‘Tease’. Here Meth does the usual speak-to-the-ladies cut, that last saw him and D’angelo melting female hearts on ‘Break Ups 2 Make Ups’, this time hindered slightly by an slightly offkey Chinky (not Chingy) warbling the hook. ‘Rodeo’ meanwhile sees Meth linking up with the cat who arguably stole his crown for husky voiced rapidfire rhymes delivered with a warped sense of humour, Ludacris. Producer Boogz tosses out a standard choppy Dirty South flavoured track, that is really made by the chemistry of Meth and Luda on the track.
From these semi-highs though, its not surprising that the only direction this album continues in is down. ‘Baby Come On’ sees more lazy Meth delivery, over more lazy production (Fafu’s slowed down drum-kick combo intertwined with a simple guitar lick), topped off with Kardinall Offishall’s nonsense on the hook. ‘Who Ya Rollin’ Wit’ sees MORE lazy Meth delivery, over MORE lazy production (Jellyroll’s staccatto synth-heavy track), topped off with Streetlife’s nonsense on the hook… I think you see where I’m going here.
The album tails off SO badly after ‘Rodeo’ that its hard to put it into words. Following the two tracks above, ‘Never Hold Back’ sounds like a reject from his compadre Redman’s album sessions, ‘The Show’ sees producer Self attempting the Kanye West sped-up soul sample trick – and failing, and ‘Act Right’ features Rockwilder mixing up his production tracks – mistakenly giving the one labelled ‘Abandoned Remix of Missy’s ‘4 My People’ to Meth. On each track, our hero simply goes through the motions, displaying an amazing display of ‘I-don’t-care’ rivalled only by Jigga on “The Best Of Both Worlds.”
The fall-off is basically completed on ‘Afterparty’ where Tony Starks easily overshadows his Wu-Tang brother over Quran Goodman’s decent attempt at a soulful made-for-Ghost track. The circle has turned fully it seems – remember when Ghostface Killah was the unknown quantity on “36 Chambers” and Method Man was the poster boy? Now Ghost is the cat everyone wants a piece of, and Meth as much by as his own lacklustre performances, as by Starks’ stunningly emotive work, is the guy nobody is checking for.
In case you weren’t 100% convinced, ‘Crooked Letter I’ and the awful ‘Outro’ close the book on the deal. Method Man is done. Over. Washed up. A has-been. It pains me to say it too, cos for a time every single the man was on was slammin’… unfortunately it seems that he’s more interested in shooting Rightguard commercials, (soon-to-be-cancelled) sitcoms, and second rate Airplane ripoffs, and appearing on every MTV show with a teenage audience to plug his album, than actually putting in the hard work ON the album he’s pimping. If the rumours are to be believed then maybe a secret RZA edition of “Tical O” may yet leak out, and maybe, just maybe rescue some honour. For now though, this dross does nothing but hammer the nail in the coffin of an emcee who ceased to be relevant around 4-5 years ago. RIP Method Man.