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Decades of Sound

Method Man’s 10 Greatest Lyrics

The Iron Lung’s best tracks with Redman, Mary, and Wu-Tang, and on his own
Method Man
(Credit: Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Images)

Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was released 30 years ago, turning the nine-man Staten Island collective into one of hip-hop’s most influential groups and introducing RZA, GZA, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah to the world. With a song named after him on the album and a gritty yet disarmingly romantic image, Method Man was the first of several Wu-Tang members to launch a successful solo career, a few years later linking up with New Jersey’s Redman as a hugely popular stoner rap duo.

Method Man is revered as one of hip-hop’s greatest hook writers. Some of his classic choruses include Wu-Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.” and Raekwon’s “Ice Cream.” Meth’s verses, however, are often sharper than he gets credit for, and here’s a look at his best.

10. Wu-Tang Clan’s “Method Man” (1993)

 

Method Man’s fate as a breakout solo star was foreshadowed when he got a showcase track named after himself on the group’s first album, which also appeared on the flipside of the “Protect Ya Neck” single. Meth pivots seamlessly from one flow to another effortlessly on “Method Man.” The MC later admitted that one of the song’s catchiest passages, the “I’m about to go get lifted” section, was inspired by John Lennon’s vocal melody from The Beatles’ “Come Together.”

9. “Tical” (1994)

 

The Wu-Tang Clan is fond of acronyms, and Method Man coined their most famous backcronym, “C.R.E.A.M.,” as in “cash rules everything around me.” Tical, one of Meth’s nicknames as well as the title of his debut solo album and its opening track, has long been an enigmatic term that the Ticallion Stallion would use in a variety of ways. When asked by Desus and Mero on their Viceland talk show in 2017, however, Meth revealed that tical is yet another acronym: “taking into consideration all lives.” The track’s opening verse, however, is all greasy shit talk: “I’ma grow like a rash on ya nasty ass/ In a whip with no brakes and I’m hitting the gas.”

8. Roni Size & Reprazent, “Ghetto Celebrity” (2000)

 

Being able to rap over any bizarre track RZA throws at them has made Wu-Tang’s MCs versatile and flexible. Method Man has the group’s broadest range of collaborators on his resume, including everyone from D’Angelo to Limp Bizkit. On In the Mode, the second album by British drum’n’bass collective Roni Size & Reprazent, Meth adjusted his flow to a furious 180bpm breakbeat far faster than most American producers were crafting, for a track that was both futuristic and evocative of ‘80s electro.

7. “Da Rockwilder” with Redman (1999)

 

Method Man first collaborated with Def Jam labelmate Redman on the 1995 soundtrack single “How High.” The chemistry between the weed-loving rappers was so instantaneous that the duo became a franchise in its own right. Over the years, Meth & Red made two collaborative albums, a feature film, and even a network sitcom. The biggest hit from their first duo album Blackout! is barely two minutes long, driven by a propulsive, synth-heavy track by Queens producer Dana “Rockwilder” Stinson. Method Man loved the track so much that he named the song after the producer, but his partner in rhyme actually didn’t feel the same way. “Red didn’t like the beat, that’s why the record’s so short,” Method Man told Complex in 2011.

6. “Mef Vs. Chef 2” with Raekwon (2010)

 

RZA kept his Wu-Tang groupmates sharp and competitive by occasionally making them battle rap in the studio to determine who would appear on a song. That tradition resulted in Method Man and Raekwon’s on-record duel “Meth Vs. Chef” which appeared on Tical. When Meth, Rae, and Ghostface recorded the 2010 album Wu-Massacre as a trio, the sparring partners rematched for a sequel, and Johnny Blaze was a more decisive winner the second time around.

5. 2Pac’s “Got My Mind Made Up” (1996)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gztDvPWTWs

Tupac Shakur was in jail when his future Death Row labelmates Daz Dillinger and Kurupt held the initial session for “God My Mind Made Up” with visiting east coasters Method Man, Redman, and Wu-Tang groupmate Inspectah Deck. A few months later, Meth was surprised to hear the song he’d recorded with the Dogg Pound with a 2Pac verse, and Deck’s verse removed. In the process, Method Man cemented his status as a central figure of ‘90s hip hop when he became the only MC to be featured on albums by both Biggie and 2Pac.

4. Notorious B.I.G.’s “The What” (1994)

 

Tical was far from the only major debut rap album released in 1994. Method Man also guested on one of the year’s most iconic breakout albums: Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die. Over a loping Easy Mo Bee beat, Meth holds his own with the legendary lyricist, referencing Roy Rogers on the track’s most memorable line: “I got a six-shooter and a horse named Trigger.”

3. “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By” with Mary J. Blige (1995)

 

Method Man’s “All I Need” was remixed as a single featuring Mary J. Blige that went down in history as one of hip-hop’s greatest love songs. Earlier this year, Andscape published the story of how Def Jam A&R director Drew Dixon heard the potential in “All I Need” and shepherded the smash remix that gave the song a new beat and hook. The lyrics like “Shorty, I’m there for you anytime you need me/ For real, girl, it’s me in your world, believe me” made Method Man into perhaps rap’s biggest heartthrob since LL Cool J are right there on the original album track, however, before any label executives realized that the grimy Staten Island rapper was a potential sex symbol.

2. Wu-Tang Clan’s “Wu-Tang Clain Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’uck Wit” (1993)

 

Sitting behind “C.R.E.A.M.” as both the second most streamed song and the second most performed song in the Wu-Tang Clan catalog, “Wu-Tang Clain Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’uck Wit” is the group’s famous rallying cry. Method Man received a co-production credit on the song for suggesting RZA add a sample of Biz Markie’s “Nobody Beats the Biz” to the track. Boasting that he’s “a hard act to follow” on the song’s third and final verse, Meth ties together references to everything from Annie and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to Sanford & Son.

1. “Bring The Pain” (1994)

 

As prolific as RZA was in the ‘90s, Wu-Tang fans often lament what could’ve been when the producer lost hundreds of beats in a flood of his basement home studio in 1994. Method Man urged RZA to remake one of those lost tracks, “Bring The Pain,” as Tical’s lead single. The song’s entire first verse is a playful potpourri of vintage early ‘90s references to Kris Kross and Driving Miss Daisy. The opening couplet “I came to bring the pain hardcore from the brain” remains Meth’s signature line, however, inspiring the title of Chris Rock’s classic comedy special Bring The Pain.