Method Man On Wu-Tang’s New Album, Chris Brown And Why He’s Not A Rapper
It's 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday when Method Man calls, almost completely out of nowhere. With a well-documented and acrimonious history with the media—as well as Wu-Tang's overall reputation for playing hard to get with journalists over the years—it was unexpected, particularly when Meth started going in against the online media. "Honestly, I don't do interviews anymore," he says over the phone. "But I do feel respect—you guys still have some type of cred as far as I go, and I respect what you guys do, forreal. I just don't like the website at all, I don't like any websites at all."
As the interview goes on, Meth opens up about a number of topics that have bugged him over the years: his image as a stoner, his contentious relationship with critics, his relationship with Def Jam that caused him to rush his lyric writing in the late-1990s and early-2000s, and his continued work with Redman. But it's the music he's working on now, specifically his next (and last) album, The Crystal Meth and the upcoming Wu-Tang 20th Anniversary album, set to be titled A Better Tomorrow, that really gets him talking.
"I'm tellin' you, I'm hard-bodied, dawg...I'm back to cadence," he says animatedly. "My flows are gonna be switchin' all over the place—dudes will not be able to keep up." —Dan Rys (@danrys)
I caught your new track with Doctor P and Adam F. It definitely seemed like something very different than some of the other music you've rapped over in the past.
Yeah. I don't rap though. I'm serious, I don't, I don't rap. I flow, I'm a flow-er. You've got rappers, you got MCs, and then you got flow-ers, I'm a flow-er. How can I describe it? Busta—he's a flow-er. He's wrapped up in his cadence, you know what I mean? Yeah, I fall into that category, I don't rap, G. I'm an MC and I'm a flow-er.
Have you been working on The Crystal Meth recently?
No comment. 'Cause when my shit does come, it's gonna come—and I'm not letting anybody know shit based on the fact that I was dogged down on my last two albums, or really my last one, and my last one was pretty good. It was pret-ty good, and I got dogged down on it. So, yeah.
"My motto is mean people suck. I hate mean people. I believe that there aren't enough train wrecks that people are forcing them now, trying to get under people's skin and shit like that."
What do you mean?
I'm not getting into the details of all of those bloggers trying to assassinate me and shit.
I don't go out trying to assassinate anybody, man.
No, not you, not you, it's never really the interviewers, it's the people that have their little two cents they put in in the comments and that. I'm so cool on that. Because you can't beat everybody up, and I be wanting to. So I don't give them anything to feed off anymore.
I know you were out with Redman again. How did that go?
It never stops. See, when we're not on y'all radar, you guys have no idea what we're doing. We've been touring since we've been touring, it never stops. We are always going out and doing shit, it's just not always on your guys' radar. That's why I'm surprised by this interview really, because I don't know. I check in every now and then. I'll check out certain blog sites and shit like that, I'll check out XXL. They never really have anything nice to say anymore and shit. It's like everybody wants to one-up on everybody in being mean and shit, and honestly, my motto is mean* people suck. I hate mean people. People who just pick at you and try to force you into a train wreck. I believe that there aren't enough train wrecks that people are forcing them now, trying to get under people's skin and shit like that.
"You just gotta understand, I've been doing this shit for a long time, and in the past few years, I've seen this change with the media, and it's ugly as hell."
Even with Chris Brown, so to speak. If he was a regular dude, and dude photobombed him like that, jumped up in his photo, it's like, "What are you doing, motherfucker? I'm taking a picture here." I woulda whooped his ass, too. But based off the fact that it's Chris Brown, they're making a big deal about it. I feel bad for the dude. And the bloggers, all these other sideline people with their opinions aren't making it any better.
My thing is, if you were in that same situation, how would you have handled it? Maybe you wouldn't have handled it in the same way Chris did, but you would have been just as angry. Don't fuckin' act like he's some kind of animal and shit—that's human nature, he got angry, he just took it a little bit further. But I know, I'm going off topic and shit. You just gotta understand, I've been doing this shit for a long time, and in the past few years, I've seen this change with the media, and it's ugly as hell. I don't believe in kissing an artist's ass, I believe in going right for the story, but when you're trying to make a fuckin' story? How tacky is that? How tactless? And that's what it feels like now.
It seems like a race to opinion—everybody wants to have the first opinion rather than think about it more.
Yeah, and if it's too popular of an opinion, there's always somebody who has to go against it. Honestly, I don't do interviews anymore. I did this, because in a funny way I still do respect XXL and what they do, because The Source...well, I'm not gonna get into all that. [Laughs] But I do feel respect—you guys still have some type of cred as far as I go, and I respect what you guys do, forreal. I just don't like the website at all, I don't like any websites at all.
*Ed. Note: An earlier version of this story quoted Method Man as saying "meeting people" due to a transcription error. The text has been updated.
I saw that Instagram recently of you and Red smoking a golden blunt...
Doc actually chose to post that shit. Myself, I like to smoke trees, but I don't want the world fuckin'... Just leave me the fuck alone with this shit, you know? I don't want the weed questions, none of that. If you guys want to legalize it, I'll be an advocate for it, but just don't throw me into the front like I'm the fuckin' biggest pot smoker you guys ever fuckin' met and shit. [Laughs] I just want to live my life, smoke my little weed on the side, I don't want that to be the determining factor in my fuckin' legacy, you know? That's all I'm saying; I'm not saying I'm quittin' or none of that shit, but you know what I mean? It gets tiring after a while.
How do you write a hook like "Method Man"?
[Explains writing the hook] That wasn't just made up shit, I'm a true fuckin' MC and flow-er, I'm telling you, dude. Even "How High"—how else would you start a record about marijuana? Jimi Hendrix, "Purple Haze." [Sings] "Excuse me as I kiss the sky..." [Laughs] Come on, this shit is plain shit, you know. I pride myself on certain things, and people especially, when people try to take certain things away from me and say sideways shit like, "All he does is flow, or he rhymes but it don't make sense." I could break down line for line and tell you...I mean, look how you just had an epiphany just now, "I had no idea that 'Method Man' was written like that. Wow!" You know? There's a lot of nuance and shit right there.
And that's why it gets me so fuckin' mad when someone can just criticize an album of mine when I'm not actually there to convey where my thoughts were at that moment. If you don't know what kind of lifestyle I'm leading at that point in time, if you're right there—like what's this guy's name, Cameron Crowe, they did the Almost Famous movie about him. Remember, when he wrote about artists, he went on tour with the band! He really got a feel for who they were and where their mind was at, so when he listened to the album, he had a perfect understanding of what's going on. We take that shit for granted.
"You can look at my history—I've never been one to yank my own chain about my fuckin' rhymes, man. I was my worst critic—humble warrior and all that shit—fuck humility right now. I'm fuckin' nice."
I'm not saying that the people who review these albums or even write the articles aren't fans, but they gotta learn to put preconceived notions aside and just come with an empty slate and actually just come into that person's world. Sometimes it's beautiful when you don't have to invite them and they come in. Kendrick, that first album, I knew nothing about that kid, but after that first album, I feel like I know him now. But sometimes, especially a sophomore project, or your third and fourth album, sometimes it has to be explained, because some people have a preconceived notion from your first album. And this is the main reason I don't want to be up for reviews, or anything, because I'm never gonna be happy about it, I don't care if it's a four star, I don't care if it's the best fuckin' review ever, because I'm still gonna find something wrong with it.
Blackout and Blackout 2 are two of my favorite albums—I listen to "Mrs. International" every morning when I wake up.
I'm glad you brought up that, because if you listen to Blackout 1, these were the years where I was just jottin' and Def Jam wanted music, and I'm just writing with speed. The same shit they did to Slick Rick with his [third] album Behind Bars and shit, where he had to go up in there and just knock songs out. And this is what was going on for all these years, where I had to write to appease, to make dates. That Blackout 1 album kind of reflects that on certain joints and shit. I came off on a few joints, but if you really listen to it—and I'm keeping it 100—Redman tore my ass up on that album. Aight?
Second LP, though, the second Blackout? Little more time on my hands, little bit more focused, a lot more cadence, years of cadence now? Man, I'm all over that fuckin' album, attacking it. I'm not takin' nothing away from Redman, because Redman is still, to this day, one of the best unfuckinrecognized artists out there, he's top 5 and shit, these motherfuckers be sleepin' on my G. But on that album? I'm all over Doc on that album. I'm serious, I gave myself the upper hand on that album! Those fuckin' verses? Those verses? I don't know where half that shit was coming from, but I was so zoned out, zoned out, and that's how I know this next album, my last LP, my last solo, is gonna be my magnum opus. I know it for a fact, because of the material I've been writing. If there's any indication in the guest appearances I've been doing lately, you'll know exactly what the fuck I'm talkin' about. And that's light work right there, that's light work that I'm doing with them niggas. I'm just playing with it.
But the shit that I'm writing for me, you'll hear it. If they give off any snippets on the Wu-Tang 20th Anniversary album, which I'm all over? [Whistles] Ooh, boy. And I'm not one to—you can look at my history—I've never been one to yank my own chain about my fuckin' rhymes, man. For real, I'm nice. I was my worst critic—humble warrior and all that shit—fuck humility right now. I'm fuckin' nice. Real shit. The same way Ruck from Heltah Skeltah, Sean P, just started blowing people's minds and shit? I asked that nigga when I was overseas, how did you have that epiphany? What did you do to put yourself in that mindframe, my G? And this was before I started writing these bombs. And he was like, "Yo, I'm better than all them niggas." And I was like, yo, that's it, that's it right there! I'm better than all these niggas! And even if I'm not, I believe that I am, so that's how I'm writing this shit. God damn right. And I'm nicer than I've ever been.
What can you tell me about the 20th anniversary album?
Nothin'. Nothin'. You'd have to talk to RZA and them, like I said, I just go in and I spit on the tracks and shit, and I break out. You know, it started off—and I'm about to give you some real shit—it started off shaky dog. Niggas didn't like the concepts that RZA was comin' with at first, or this whole overall look for the album. He wanted it to be light, we wanted it to be dark. Bring it back to that first LP. He was more like, more or less, we've been there and done that. So this is why it's taking so long, because we gotta find a common denominator between light and dark, 'cause I agree with him, you can't have a full album worth of dark shit, you gotta have some light there.
Yeah, but I don't want to make it seem like, damn, these niggas went and became Hare Krishnas, Dali Lamas and shit. So right there, there was a lot of light. But when we went overseas, it started to get a little darker—a lot darker, you know what I mean. We got some bases covered, but our biggest problem right now with the material—not enough Rae, not enough Ghost, not enough GZA. Right now, Rae isn't on anything, and Ghost I think is on two joints, and that's as much as I can give you without saying too much, and I think I gave you too much already.
I just want the people to know why it comes when it does come. We're just trying to find a common denominator between light and dark. But just know this—Meth is on damn near every—matter fact, I think I am on every joint. And these fuckin' verses, I'm tellin' you my dude. I'm saying shit like, [raps] "I ain't tryna be no D-Boy, I love music, I'm a B-Boy / Are you the undercover or the decoy / I'm heavy with the beat, trouble T-Boy / A pit with no muzzle about to pop your bubble like a [inaudible] / Too much marijuana got me p-noid / I'm killin instrumentals with that 'All So Simple Can It Be' boy / Shout to Lil Cease, B.I.G. boy / And funk Dr. Spock, I mean Redman, that's not Leonard Nimoy."
I'm tellin' you, I'm hard-bodied, dawg. Trust me, just listen to some of these features, you'll see exactly where I'm at with it and how I'm gonna come, 'cause I'm back to cadence. My flows are gonna be switchin' all over the place—dudes will not be able to keep up.