- Vibe Online
Taking a break from the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man brings the pain,
yes, but the love too.
By Josh Levine. Photographs by Mojgan B. Azimi
It was almost out of control. The audience was going insane at the Palace in
Hollywood on Thanksgiving night, because Method Man was stealing the
show from Redman and Mel-Low. As he descended from the big stage into
the packed house, a cipher of fans formed around him. "We had to bring
it to 'em,˛ says Method of his performance, "right down there in the crowd."
And the crowd took time out of an evening of almost incessant fighting to
go peacefully wild in appreciation of the man also known as the Killer Bee,
the Metical. Arguably the best - certainly the best-known - member of the
Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man rocked. He was kicking lyrics to people, it
seemed, one by one. "I was, like, you paid your money to see me. So here
I am - fuck a stage."
Later, in his room at West Hollywood's Le Montrose Hotel, he says of his
pre-Wu days, "I've been a businessman since I was on the streets." There
seem to be at least two personae within this 23-year-old hustler turned
rhymesmith: A morbid ruthlessness still underlies Method's pursuit
of happiness. His good looks, vivid imagination, and commanding
personality play down his inner evil twin. "Controlled thug life" is
how he describes his current modus operandi. "I come as criminal,
but I ain't bringing it to nobody. I'm controlling the anger, 'cause I
got a purpose now."
At this moment, though, just as the ghosts of Shao Lin (Wu-Tang
slang for Staten Island) seem to be swirling around him, Method
turns to jovially show off his Marvel/Image comic book collection.
"They're like soap operas," says Method. "Once you start, you can't
stop." His own name even has a mutant superhero kind of sound.
"We started calling weed Śmethod,' like, in '88," he explains with
his intense stare and Chucky-doll laugh. "So I was the Method Man."
And the Method Man's purpose - loochi, scratch, the almighty dollar -
is the same as it was three years ago when, at the suggestion of his
lifelong friend, producer Prince Rakeem, Method got down with the
Wu-Tang Clan. Enter the Wu-Tang: (36 Chambers) has sold almost 1
million albums, and Method's turbulent solo debut, Tical, is already
pushing 260,000. To Meth, these stats translate into the security of
C.R.E.A.M. "I want to get all I can," he says. "Milk this shit dry."
The two sides of Method Man have roots in the way he grew up:
His parents were separated, so he traveled back and forth between
Staten Island's housing projects and Long Island's suburbs (where
he "sucked bad" at basketball, excelled at wrestling and lacrosse, but
dreamed of being a football star). He stayed with his mom in Staten's
Park Hill Apartments - dubbed Killer Hill by its tenants. "Dismal,"
he says of the Hill. "In the suburbs, you hear crickets rubbing their feet
together. In the projects, we hear gunshots, or niggas - 'Yo yo yo!' -
screaming for a car to stop so they could make a sale."
Life on the streets of Shao Lin is what he talks about on Tical, an
album he describes as "going into the mind of a nigga that done
had enough, man." A combination of anger and hopelessness fuels
songs like "What the Blood Clot," "P.L.O. Style," and the belligerent
single "Bring the Pain." "What's real in this world? If anything, pain,"
Method says. "You can't disguise it. If you're hurt, you're hurt. That's
why I'm saying if it's real, let me know."
What's also real are the feelings behind the extraordinary jam "All I
Need," a love song dedicated to Method Man's real-life longtime girlfriend.
"She was there through thick and thin," he says, "and now we're both
living fat." Method says he's been through the usual bragging-about-conquest
stuff. "That shit don't get you nothing but burnt. It's, like, when you
find somebody you can be with, it's one love all together. And the way
she treats me, I reflect on her. That's why we got such a good relationship:
I'm a good man, I make her a good woman, which brings back good things to me."
So for Meth now, it's all about the good life - his career, his girl, and
his money -
right? "Not yet," he says. "I ain't got what I need to go yet." Method wants a
job like Lyor Cohen's: Russell Simmons's partner, Cohen is chief operating
officer of Def Jam/RAL, the company that Method - along with other hip
hop artists like Slick Rick, Redman, Onyx, and L.L. Cool J - records for.
"I want to be the mack in the back," he says with that methodical glare
of his, "instead of the chump in the front."
Josh "Soul Rebel" Levine has written for Urb, The Source, and The Bomb.