On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN were joined by Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man to discuss the historical impact of the group, his successful track record as a rapper-turned-actor, rapping alongside The Notorious B.I.G., the evolution of hip hop and much more.
Born Clifford Smith Jr. in Hempstead, Long Island and also raised in Park Hill, Staten Island, the star was the first person to sign on as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan in the early 1990s. His breakthrough single “Method Man” was originally marketed as the B-side cut to the group’s first official release “Protect Ya Neck.” It was also housed on Wu-Tang’s debut platinum-selling project Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993.
Rising as a premiere figure in one of rap’s most popular collectives, Meth signed a major record deal with Def Jam Recordings shortly after and released his debut album Tical in late 1994. The platinum-certified project was led by “All I Need,” which eventually featured Mary J. Blige and flips Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By.” The rap&B record later won a Grammy Award in 1996. As time went on, Meth would continue to record music alongside acts like the Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie and Redman for critically acclaimed efforts like Blackout!, and as a solo act.
Method Man’s career as an actor holds weight, as well. Notably, he’s been casted in movies like How High, which he starred in with Redman, and Soul Plane, as well as shows like “The Wire,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and currently “Power Book II: Ghost.” Those productions, in addition to his slew of solo and collaborative projects, showcase the star’s consistent ability to cement his legacy on wax and on the big screen.
We spotlighted nine major takeaways from his two-hour conversation on “Drink Champs” that was filled with gems and plenty of laughs. Check them out below and watch the full video here.
1. On the sonic breakdown of “Method Man”
Method Man’s breakthrough title track was one of the two solo records on the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut studio album, Enter The Wu-Tang (1993). Meth wrote the RZA-produced record around the age of 16, and admits in his “Drink Champs” interview that he initially thought that the rhymes were dated. In an attempt to spice it up, he interpolated songs that were stuck in his head at the time.
“‘Hey, you, get off my cloud/You don’t know me [and] you don’t know my style.’ Who is that?” he asked hosts N.O.R.E. and EFN. “I think that’s Bootsy Collins (“Disciples of Funk”). But it was stuck in my head, right? So by the time I got to the ‘M-e-t-h-o-d, Man,’ that was already etched in my head from ‘M-e-t-h-o-d-o-f-l-o-v-e’ (“Method of Modern Love”). [I’m a] Big Hall & Oates fan. The ‘man’ part came from Masta Ace [because] one of my favorite records was ‘The Music Man.’”
Meth added, “The other hook part, ‘I got, fat bags of…,’ that’s The Beatles (“Come Together”).” The Wu-Tang seed went on to explain how those were the Top 40 songs that he was exposed to because he didn’t have things like Video Music Box growing up.
2. On how Queen Latifah helped him snap out of a psilocybin trip
Tensions were high in the 1990s when Biggie and Tupac became the faces of a coastal battle. While telling a hilarious story about how he was at the House of Blues for the Soul Train party with both Bad Boy and Death Row head honchos Puff Daddy and Suge Knight in attendance, Method remembers being froze at the event by himself after ingesting shrooms.
“Now I’m at the peak of shroom high and I’m sitting there and I hear, ‘Meth! Meth!’ and I look and it’s [Queen] Latifah. And she’s like, ‘What the f**k you doing up in that corner? Come here!’ And I snapped out of that s**t. I was good [for] the rest of the night after that.”
3. On what it was like working with The Notorious B.I.G.
“B.I.G. was a great dude, man,” Meth said. “Anybody that knew him would tell you that he was the funniest muthaf**ka on the planet, but cool as hell.”
Shortly after, the Wu-Tang rapper was asked if he understood how hard it was to rhyme with B.I.G., to which he replied, “No, I didn’t.” Spawning more commentary, Meth explained how he linked with Biggie for the Ready To Die cut “The What.” “I walked in and Big was snapping on Puff first, and I’m just laughing and s**t… but then we sat there and wrote our verses.” Method also revealed that Biggie came up with the idea of them going back and forth, with Biggie offering some of his lines for Meth to recite. “The atmosphere was light, n**gas was snappin’. It felt like being around Wu-Tang, n**ga. For real, that was my mans,” he recalled.
4. On why he got into acting
Meth revealed that his consistent drive as a successful rapper-turned-actor stemmed from the exhaustion that came with touring overseas once the newer generation started dominating show opportunities in the states. “It was too much,” he remembered. “I went, bought a ticket to L.A., did not get a hotel room, did not get a car, no suites, no nothing. I went to my manager’s house and slept on her couch in the Hollywood Hills. And I did that for about a month and a half,” he recalled.
Meth also admitted that he was at odds with his record label Def Jam Recordings and wanted to prove that he still had some juice left in the tank. “I would be angry all the time because it was hard for me to accept that I wasn’t that n**ga anymore, or at least that’s what it felt like…,” he said. “I made the decision that I could contribute way more. And I could show all these muthaf**kas that this is not the end for me, this is just the beginning.”
5. On his roles in Brown Sugar and “The Wire”
About halfway through Method Man’s interview, the platinum-selling rapper revealed that he previously had a bigger role in Brown Sugar, the 2002 ode to hip hop that starred Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs and Mos Def. “I went and shot the movie, but wasn’t in the movie,” Meth said. So what happened? He explained, “Wee-Bey, my n**ga Hassan [Johnson], he was there too. He was supposed to play my sidekick, assistant in the scene… He didn’t like the scene, he didn’t like the words, none of that s**t. So he left.” Despite Meth staying and fulfilling his duties, the scenes were never used, though Meth’s voice was.
Connecting the dots even more, Meth discussed how taking the time to shoot Brown Sugar might have contributed to him missing another opportunity, adding, “Now I was supposed to audition for the f**king ‘Wire,’ that day. But I did the f**king movie. Clock [Hassan Johnson] went and auditioned for ‘The Wire’ and got Wee-Bey. I’m not saying I would’ve gotten Wee-Bey but I would’ve been on the f**king show from the ground up, at least I think so.” Meth would later snag the character Cheese in the series. He went on to stamp “The Wire” as the greatest crime TV show of all-time in his chat, as well.
6. On How High 2
Method Man and Redman took their coveted talents as a duo from the booth to the big screen for the 2001 film How High. In summary, the stoner comedy zeroed in on two individuals who smoked marijuana that was fertilized with the ashes of their deceased friend, leading to the appearance of a ghost who helped them ace an exam to get into Harvard. The cultural impact of the movie prompted a sequel in 2019 that starred comedian DC Young Fly and rapper Lil Yachty.
When asked about his thoughts on the follow-up, Meth said, “I think that you can’t blame DC or Lil Yachty for the premise. MTV was very smart for doing what they did because the product was just sitting there. They got the rights. It keeps the name alive, so I’m not mad at it. But I don’t think it was fair to those two guys. Especially DC. His first vehicle should’ve been something original because he’s funny as f**k.” Meth, who was once in talks to reprise his role but didn’t “because the business wasn’t right,” later confirmed that he didn’t see the movie, but was “privy” to the script.
7. On the infamous 1995 Source Awards
During the “Hard Knock Life Tour” in 1999, Meth and Redman were placed as openers to go on ahead of JAY-Z, DMX, Ja Rule and more. Despite their set being on the earlier side, Meth said that the two stole the show and quickly made a name for themselves among critics as must-see talents. Because of their well-received efforts, they won Live Performers of the Year at the Source Awards in 2000 and while going down memory lane, on that note, Meth recalled when he pulled up to the infamous Source Awards in 1995 where Suge Knight got on stage for his infamous diss.
“That s**t was weird that night,” he began. “I didn’t like that night. It showed a big divide in hip hop, period. And the thing about it was, the way it turned into east coast, west coast, was because of media attention and they steered it into that because it sold more articles.”
8. On Wu-Tang Clan being the greatest rap group of all-time
When recalling some of rap’s fallen soldiers, N.O.R.E., EFN and Meth showed love to Ol’ Dirty Bastard, with the latter asserting that ODB gave the Wu-Tang Clan most of their bravado as a unit. “He told us from day one even if we didn’t believe it, he believed it. ‘We the best. We the f**king best.’ Period.”
That brought Meth to the topic of editorial lists that rank the best rap groups of all-time. He then weighed in on where he thinks the Wu-Tang Clan ranks among other famed competitors. “…The fans is speaking louder than the lists nowadays. Death Row, salute to them, but the people have spoken and said that Wu-Tang Clan is the number one crew. And Outkast again, shoutout to them, love them. But the people have spoken again and said that the Wu-Tang is the number one crew.”
9. On the evolution of hip hop
N.O.R.E. asked Meth if he ever thought that hip hop would make it this far. In light of the genre’s 50th anniversary this year, the Wu-Tang MC responded, “I knew it. It’s like the same reason why I love being Black, because I think I got an advantage because of being Black. I think I got an advantage because of how I came up in this world and s**t. It’s like my disadvantages are my advantages in this world. Because I’m always gonna be underestimated from the door but I’m always ready. So I don’t have to get ready.”
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