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‘The Meth Lab’ Review

| Thursday, August 27, 2015

MethLab_Banner_WebLucy Du | The Observer


We remember Method Man from his early days with the highly influential rap collective Wu-Tang Clan, and later for his performance on “The Wire.” After long anticipation, and almost a decade gap since his last solo album, Meth has finally released “The Meth Lab,” whose cover pictures blue crystal in a suspected allusion to “Breaking Bad.” The album has experienced a hushed release but can be expected to permeate the current hip-hop scene attracting a new generation of followers.

Above all, this album is a testament to Method Man’s adaptability. The beats are hot, the lyrics are novel and above all the album includes fresh names with rhymes to match. This long-awaited solo album is anything but, yet Method Man’s distinctive raps are never lost in the mix. His gravelly voice is accompanied by many less recognizable ones, in collaboration reminiscent of classic Wu-Tang tracks. “Meth heads,” as his fans are known, are craving the appearance of Redman, considering the long-standing collaboration of the duo through the “Blackout!” album series. Equally exciting is the return of original Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa. Less familiar names accompany the old ones, most notably Hanz On and Street Life, who appear in the majority of the album’s tracks. Chemistry between the rappers is obvious by the seamless transition between verses.

As collaboration and hardcore delivery remain constant, Method Man’s style has evolved as much as his career, maintaining a distinctively high level of intensity which sometimes manifests in an old school rap sound, but is also explored in different forms. In “Soundcheck,” aggressive guitar approaches the rap-rock style that has become so prominent in popular hip-hop. In tracks like “What You Getting Into” heavy basslines and synthesizers also achieve a trap feel.  Despite progressive beats, Method Man upholds the superiority of old school rappers, saying the new ones “don’t really ride, they piggyback.”

After an entire album of hard-hitting lyric delivery and aggressive beats, we come to an outro in which Method Man says “Crystal Meth is comin’ real soon.” Throughout 2013 Method Man worked on material for the album “Crystal Meth” and announced that it would be released in August 2014, precluded by the mixtape “The Meth Lab.” The hint not only alleviates fans’ impatience, but creates the perspective of “The Meth Lab” as a preview for what’s to come.

The “Meth Lab” mixtape does an excellent job of showcasing Method Man’s collaborators. He plays a nominal role in many of its tracks, and maintains his reputation for avoiding solo work. Hopefully the upcoming album will center more on Method Man himself.


Tracks: Straight Gutta, Water, The Purple Tape

If you like: Wu-Tang Clan, Redman


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