Method Man

4:21...The Day After...

(Def Jam; 2006)

By David Greenwald | 16 October 2006

Wu-Tang is a religion. Wu-Tang is a way of life. No, better -- Wu-Tang is bigger than life. Discover 36 Chambers (1993) a decade too late after a suburban radio childhood and these are the kinds of realizations you have. In a crew full of towering samurai, Method Man got the first single -- he never had Ghostface Killah’s airtight absurdity or GZA’s poetic grasp, but he had abundant charisma, and plenty of MCs have made careers on charisma. (That sure isn’t rapping Snoop’s doing these days.) 4:21…The Day After… is as full of boasts as it is ellipses, but don’t get too hopeful -- shit’s, for the most part, pretty dull.

The album is only his fifth since 1994’s Tical and the first since the disappointing Tical 0: The Prequel, and Meth’s acting like he’s got something to prove. Which he does, but Wu-referencing battle rhymes just make Meth sound codger-y. His lyrics throughout are kind of a Michael Jordan-playing-baseball situation, trying to look hard and missing out on what the man does best. “Look, I ain't came to bone these chicks / Not this time, I got a bone to pick, I got a zone to pick / Now, who that nigga in the zone and shit” (from “Problem”) is about as good as it gets, and it takes a totally irrelevant couplet to leapfrog him into the punch line.

The beats are the same tired pseudo-mainstream pap that sunk Tical 0. “Intro” is passable until he grinds things to an awkward halt: “How could you say I’m washed up when I’m the dirtiest thing around?” Aw Meth, really? Really? “Is It Me” boasts a spare, RZA-like piano -- pretty humble from Scott Storch, all Hiltons considered -- but the drums kick with distracting plastic thumps. Like most of the album’s beats, it’s serviceable, even enjoyable, but that’s about as far as it gets. On the other end, there’s the no-name-produced “Fall Out,” which is a big, bassy mess. Method Man just gets lost. With its meaty acoustic guitars, “Say” could’ve been an outtake from the Corinne Bailey Rae album -- she probably should’ve used it and saved Meth the trouble, but Lauryn Hill’s hook is a nice surprise. “Ya’Meen” tries for Kanye enormity and boom-baps itself flat instead.

The best moments on the album come in a posthumous verse from Ol’ Dirty Bastard on “Dirty Mef,” and Method Man steps up his game (out of respect?) accordingly. A guest appearance from Redman on “Walk On” -- which samples the David/Bacharach song against an industrial jam -- delivers one of the disc’s few head-turning lines (“I’ll blow your minds like Kurt Cobain”), but after the shock value wears off, it’s kind of ironic. After all, Method Man hasn’t done a whole lot since 1994 either.