When you talk to most people that listened to hip hop in the 90's, they typically say that Notorious B.I.G. or 2Pac were the greatest of all time. Now I'm not trying to troll for that debate here, but it seems worthwhile to mention that the only reason I learned about Biggie was because I saw Method Man was featured on a track. In 93, Method Man was the grittiest artist alive and he was the type of artist that was featured on so many tracks, he would instantly validate it. You could hear the saliva when he breathed. Even within the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man stood out because his personality and style couldn't be overlooked. I repeat, he was the reason I discovered Ready To Die. If he were to come up in 2016 with all of the media available for hip hop artists, I have no doubt in my mind that people wouldn't overlook his importance within the history of hip hop. For everyone that knows Method Man, but doesn't put him up there as one of the best MC's of all time, here is some food for thought to give Method Man his respect due.
The Wu-Tang Clan was dope because it was a collection of 10 mc's that all had unique styles. It makes it more evident that Method Man was unique because the standout singles on Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) were Method Man and Cream largely because of Method Man's impact on those tracks. The album was revolutionizing from top to bottom, but when it was Method's turn, his humor, wit and graphic descriptions would make you sway to his rhythm. His style commands tracks because of his wordplay and delivery. It was undeniable then and it's obvious retrospectively.
After Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) came out, it was surprising to see the clan drop solo projects, but it wasn't surprising that Method Man was the first up to bat. Tical is another classic project, so go to the ITunes store immediately if you don't have it and/or have never heard of it. The project was as dark, gloomy and eerie as Method Man's lyrical style but it built on the momentum of the ground breaking first project. It was parka music. Method Man continued develop his skills while still doing features on a slew of projects while dropping his breakout solo project, Tical.
I don't know if it was record label issues or if it was a conscious decision to let individual members have their chance to shine, but with each project, Method Man made an appearance and put his mark on the project. Ice Cream (Raekwon), Raw Hide (ODB), Shadowboxin/4th Chamber (GZA), Box In Hand (Ghostface), The What (Notorious B.I.G.) 4-3-2-1 (DMX, Redman, LL Cool J, Canibus), Got My Mind Made Up (2Pac), Do What You Feel (Redman), Whatcha Gonna Do (Jayo Felony), Gunz 'N Onez (Heltah Skeltah), Left & Right (D'Angelo) and the list goes on........
By the time Tical 2000: Judgement Day came around, the Scarface caricature had become so popular and pervasive that the industry went away from the gritty stories, cunning lyrics for the drug dealer, money stacking mobster rapper that validated their talent by rapping about money. In response, the hip hop heads that loved the gritty lyricism reacted by steering more toward soul infused beats during the age of Dilla. Method Man's creativity could mesh with so many styles that his productivity remained high, but the industry departed from the original dark production sound filled with record pops and basement musk. As you can hear in the video above, the snap and crackle of vinyl faded away and a crisp, bass-heavy electronic sound became his musical direction. This laser sharp sound became more futuristic and dystopian which worked with his style.
As he continued to show his skills, Method Man has always been a top tier mc and it's undebatable. His career has spanned decades and there is a reason that so many artists want(ed) to work with him over the years. He released ground breaking music and commanded center stage the whole time while his lyrics never relented. He always creates new takes on the world and he always did things his own way. He never went with the trends to stay valid because that's not what real artists do. For all of these reasons, I feel the world needs to give Method Man his respect due. It's a perfect opportunity to dig into his discography and re-listen to all of the work that Meth has put out there.