4:21: The Day After
Last week when I reviewed Outkast's album, I talked about what expectations can do to an album or a career. Method Man is a poster child for how expectations can make a great career seem like a disappointing one. When Meth broke onto the scene with Wu back in the early 90's he was the obvious superstar of the Clan. The Ticallion Stallion had the voice, the rhymes, the flow and most importantly, the charisma. It's no coincidence that Meth got the only solo cut on 36 Chambers and was the first member to drop his own LP. And while Tical was undoubtedly an incredible album, it didn't stack up against Liquid Swords, Only Built For Cuban Linx and arguably Ironman.
Guess who took the heat for that? Method Man. Some people nicely called Tical a bit of let down as they felt he should have the best solo album. But it was RZA's production that made the other solo albums better, not the emcees. It was unwarranted and unfair criticism that came to follow Meth his entire career. Now don't get me wrong - some of criticism is very much warranted - namely, the shucking and jiving TV show and his often questionable beat selection on his second and particularly his third album.
Fortunately, all this "he fell the fuck off" talk has put a very large chip on Johnny Blaze's shoulder. The fire lit under his ass has lead to an LP of Meth spitting lava, best displayed on one of the albums two centerpieces. The Lauryn Hill-sampled lead single "Say" features a pissed off man spitting some of the best verses of his career; "niggas gonna say I lost my skill/when in fact they all been programmed and lost they feel...the last album, wasn't feelin' my style/this time my foot up in they ass/bet they feelin' it now/cause Tical he put his heart in every track he do/but somehow you find a way to give a wack review/it ain't all good/they writin' that I'm Hollywood/trying to tell you my shit ain't ghetto and they hardly hood/c'mon man, until you dudes can write some rhymes/keep that in mind when you find yourself recitin' mine" The track isn't just notable because it's, well, really dope, but because it's a prime example of the attitude Meth carries for the entire album.
The other track that is a defining moment of sorts is "Presidental MC," featuring Raekwon and The RZA. The track fits right alongside the dank sub-basement sound of his debut - fitting as this is by far Meth's grimiest album since Tical. Even Scott Storch drags his usually polished keys through the dirt when he laces Mr. M-E-F with the ferocious "Is It Me." "Dirty Mef" is really where it's at though, as Meth and ODB just slay the dancing piano loop in what sounds like it could be "Brooklyn Zoo Pt. 2." Even Erick Sermon takes it back to the cosmic slop days as his boom bap era drums propel the rejuvenated "Hot Nicks" on "Problem." I guess it really shouldn't be surprising as Meth calls out his naysayers (Def Jam included) on the intro over a gritty ass beat. Shit, even his club track "Fall Out" (which led to some disaster on his last LP), is banging with Meth just owning the beat.
Of course not everything on The Day After is going to have you reaching for the repeat button. Likely a label-insisted track, the Ginuine-featured "Let's Ride" is far from Meth's bread and butter. Another obvious Def Jam track, "4 Ever," has them pitting their new artist Megan Rochell with Meth in an attempt to recreate "All I Need." Its not all bad, but it certainly falls short. "Konichiwa Bitches" is pretty pedestrian and even the Redman collab "Walk On" is a bit of a letdown, mostly for rocking an overused sample that's been flipped much better in the past. Like most albums these days, the skits don't contribute anything either. But whether or not you believe all the criticism slung his way over the years, one thing is for sure - it sparked him. 4:21: The Day After is easily Meth's best LP since his debut 12 years ago, and further proof as to why he is one of the greatest emcees to come out of the 90's.
Check the review for Method Man's Tical 0 right here