Artist: Method Man
Producer: The RZA
Album: 4:21... The Day After (2006)
Most of you probably don't know this, but whenever I write about a project that upsets me to the point where I start to question why I even bother with this shit, I retreat into music I already know I like as a way to calm myself down. I assume a lot of you two do something similar when life gets in the goddamn way; maybe you plop yourself onto your couch and fill your eyeline with various movies and TV shows proven to provide comfort, or maybe you turn to drugs, or alcohol, or religion, or stronger drugs. Hey, I'm not here to judge. I'm just trying to say, in a very polite manner, that I was very fucking disappointed with that Raekwon album.
Not surprisingly, whenever a Wu-Tang Clan effort blows, I go back and listen to better, more awesome Wu-Tang Clan efforts. Also not surprisgnly, this playlist of mine features a metric ton of Wu, and I'm actually very proud of the fact that I've only included one such song in the count thus far. That streak ends today, but most likely not with something you expected from me.
Today's entry is a bonafide rap album intro, taken from Raekwon's fellow Wu mate Method Man's fourth full-length solo album 4:21... The Day After. It's the kind of intro I can get behind, in that it features actual rapping, but it also accomplishes two things simultaneously: Meth sets the overall tone for the evening ahead while successfully erasing any memory of his botched third album, Tical 0: The Prequel, from the listener's mind. And that is no small task, because you see, that particular album sucked. I also have no doubt that Meth would actually agree with me on that point: he seems like a genial, realistic dude.
4:21... The Day After was a return to form for Method Man; it's an underrated album that contains several high (no pun intended) points fitting for the man who was the first to break out of the group aesthetic. It also features at least two tracks that are playlist-worthy, one of which I'll probably get to in the future, and the other being "Intro". If you take a glance at my previous review for this album, I'd bet you can figure out what the other playlist entry will be. It's a fun way to waste time at work, anyway.
"Intro" starts things off with an extended sound bite lifted from an educational documentary about the horrors of drug use. The "Make marijuana legal!" chant was originally intended to scare the shit out of the viewer, whose only two concerns of the day were the Cold War and those fucking hippies, apparently. But as fans of rap music, anyone with even the slightest familiarity with Method Man will know where he falls into the argument: even if he isn't the pothead he used to be, what with having a family, kids, grown-up concerns, and the passage of time, he's still the guy who named his debut album, Tical, after slang for a laced blunt, and his BFF is Reggie "Redman" Noble, by the way, so it's not like he's completely out of the woods. For further examples, please refer to the actual title of the album this song appears on.
As the sound bite plays out, producer RZA brings up a simple loop that both keeps things moving and has just enough melody and dusty drums to remind listeners of the Wu-Tang Clan of olde. However, the Method Man that spits a single verse isn't the young buck that tried to convince the world to hear him out back in the early 1990s: this Method Man is confident, cocky, and doesn't give a shit if you listen to him or not, and that kind of swagger comes only with years of experience, as he grew into a grizzled hip hop veteran that both appreciates and constantly questions the direction in which our chosen genre has traveled. Also, he sounds really good: one listen to "Intro" will make you actually want to give 4:21... The Day After a chance, which is what all rap album intros are supposed to do in the first fucking place.
Short version: Method Man and The RZA should work together more, just not necessarily with Bobby's digital orchestra or with all of the live instrumentation that plagued A Better Tomorrow. And you should probably listen to 4:21... The Day After.
Do you agree or disagree with this selection? Discuss below.