For much of their respective careers, Method Man and Redman have been two peas in a proverbial pod, a duo that electrified microphones with dynamic wordplay and endless energy. On April 20 —4/20 —the two will be on opponents, though, as they engage in the latest edition of Verzuz.
Saying who would win or lose in this battle feels a little reductive. Any event that spotlights hip hop legends and introduces a new generation to timeless tunes is a big win for everyone. Still, it’s fun to consider their impact a part from one another. That starts with a little history.
Method Man burst onto the scene as part of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck,” a scabrous introduction to one of the great rap crews of all time. With agile rhyming ability and limitless charisma, Meth stood turned heads with his verse on the track, and he ended up being the only Wu-Tang Clan member who got their own solo track on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the group’s first official album. The eponymous tune “Method Man” gave fans a more extended glimpse at the future superstar, and by 1994, he released his debut album, Tical, which eventually went platinum. Several albums later, Meth is one of rap’s more venerable legends.
For his part, Redman, who hails from Newark, N.J., made his mark with his 1992 debut album, Whut? Thee Album. With a knack for wordplay, his zany persona and production from EPMD, the LP earned plenty of acclaim and kicked off what would be a legendary rap career. The album has since been certified gold, as was the case for his 1994 LP, Dare Iz a Darkside.
In 1999, after collaborating on numerous tracks, Method Man and Redman dropped off Blackout!, the first of three albums they’d release as a duo. With a preternatural synergy and dynamic lyricism, the two were as good together as they were a part, and they gained plenty of critical acclaim while also going along to appear together in movies and more.
Now, the two are all set to face off in a friendly little competition. Today, ahead of their showdown, REVOLT takes a look at some songs fans will anticipate the most. Peep the breakdown below and see you tomorrow!
1. “Method Man”
As far as introductory songs go, it’s hard to do better than Wu-Tang Clan’s “Method Man,” a track handled by Meth himself. For the track, the MC attacks an upbeat, but ominous piano loop as he lets loose playful threats and quick-fire flexes in equal measure, giving the world a glimpse at the flamboyant, but rugged stylings that would make him a rap icon. If you wanted a picture of early ’90s rap at its best, it’d look a lot like this.
2. “I’ll Bee Dat!”
Quirky and fun, “I’ll Bee Dat!” is a microcosm of Redman’s one-of-one appeal. There’s the self-deprecating sense of humor, playfulness and plenty of machismo to go along with more than a few quotable bars and an animated flow.
3. “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By (Puff Daddy Mix)”
In the 1990s, Diddy — then known as Puff Daddy — left his mark by repurposing ’60s and ’70s R&B tunes to make unexpected rap hits, so it’s only right he did the same for the remix to Method Man’s “All I Need.” It reimagines Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s timeless love ballad through the prism of ’90s hip hop and R&B royalty. Meth ditches the nature metaphors for loving straight talk and Mary J. Blige, the ascendent Queen of Hip Hop Soul, picks up where Terrell left off with soulful vocals of her own. When you throw in a Notorious B.I.G. scratch sample, you get a seamless link between the past and present, and possibly the greatest rap love song ever.
4. “Let’s Get Dirty (I Can’t Get in the Club)”
Stereotypically speaking, being turned away at the club is pretty much the lamest thing that can happen. But, in the hands of Redman, with his zany lyrics and animated delivery, it turns into a raucous adventure that sounds way more fun than the V.I.P. section on this cut.
5. “Bring The Pain”
Adventurous wordplay and jumpy rhyme patterns make “Bring The Pain” a memorable first official solo single for Method Man. A soulful instrumental from the one and only RZA help give those bars a home. Meth’s got plenty of standouts in his career, but no list of his best songs can be complete without this.
6. “Tonight’s Da Night”
On “Tonight’s Da Night,” Redman tackles a jazzy Isaac Hayes-sampling beat with his customarily rugged bars for a song that helped define his style. His blend of comically over-the-top bars, an energetic delivery and a smooth, but unassuming beat sets the tone for a style that’s, as he says on the song, “funky like cottage cheese.”
7. “Breakups 2 Make Ups”
Here’s a smooth and sultry D’Angelo-assisted bop that sees Meth detail his dealings with a salty ex that just won’t let him be. Bits about his ex’s confrontations with his gun-toting new girlfriend mixed with Meth’s casual charm pull you into the story, and the D’Angelo hook makes you hope the track will never end.
8. “Da Goodness” featuring Busta Rhymes
It’s hard to find rap stars that can match Redman’s energy, but Busta Rhymes is one of them. For this one, the two show off some tight rhyme schemes and nimble flows while Redman serves up a memorable hook that will get you to the dance floor.
Their collabs tho…
9. “How High (Remix)”
This is a classic stoner tune with a dope beat, and bars upon bars upon bars from Method Man and Redman. The hook here (“It’s a bird, it’s a plane!”) reinvents a popular phrase from Superman lore, and the raps are pointed. For his part, Meth serves up a stanza that’s emblematic of his whole approach: “As I run a mile with a racist/My style was born in the pissy staircases/Dig it, F a rap critic/He talk about it while I live it.” You have to know this one will ring off.
10. “4, 3, 2, 1”
Everyone remembers verses from LL Cool J, Canibus and DMX, but Meth and Doc did their thing on this, too. On the track, in classic rap duo fashion, Method Man and Redman take turns on the hook, while the former delivers an extra sharp first verse with inventive rhyme schemes. The start of the beat alone is nostalgia inducing, and hearing dynamic verses from these rap legends will, to this day, remind you that true skill is timeless.
11. “Da Rockwilder”
In the pantheon of great Method Man and Redman collabs, “Da Rockwilder” stands tall. For the track, they unleash colorful bars coated in gunplay and braggadocio over an extraterrestrial beat Red didn’t even really like. Short, sweet and fun, “Da Rockwilder” evokes the energy of a one-of-a-kind duo.