“Welcome to the Meth lab, It’s time to cook.” This is looking like a great year for the fellas of The Wu-Tang Clan. With Ghostface Killah putting out a fantastic album a few months ago and now Method Man drops The Meth Lab on us like an anvil. This Staten Island born misfit was a staple of popular music in the early days of the new millennium. Collaborations with Limp Bizkit, Mary J. Blige, Redman and the like kept TRL fans satisfied, while his movie credits including Belly, Garden State and How High, which influenced pot heads across the country to get “High Scores,” kept Method Man firmly entrenched in the spotlight for years. Now with The Meth Lab, he will surely gain a whole new generation of listeners. After all, it has been almost a decade since his last solo album. There are many new potential Meth Heads out there.
Method Man does not come empty handed. This album is brimming with more special guests than the Save Haiti telethon. Redman along with Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa from the Wu-Tang Clan make appearances throughout the album. Hanz On and Streetlife are also on most of the album. It goes to show that the key to longevity is working with the right people. Meth has been working with the Wu-Tang Clan for 22 years and shows no sign of slowing. Not a lot of musicians can claim that type of longevity.
Sonically, The Meth Lab provides a diverse yet cohesive listening experience. “Straight Gutta” is a smooth flowing ghetto anthem that’ll have you repping whatever block you’re from while “2 Minutes of Your Time” slows thing down a bit to explain that “rappers don’t really ride, they piggyback.” Later in the album, “The Purple Tape” stomps on your eardrums with a marching beat that is guaranteed to get your head moving at the very least. Elsewhere, Carlton Fisk and Hanz On join Meth for “Soundcheck,” a guitar-laden, rapid fire masterpiece chock full of organized crime references which sets a new high water mark in the energy department for Method Man’s expansive discography.
The only artistic misstep on this album was to include a Columbine reference on “Straight Gutta”. Not cool. It’s completely understood that to really make an impression there has to be a certain amount of shock value, especially in hip-hop. But that particular issue is still a no-no, right up there with referring to Caitlin Jenner as “he.” Admittedly, it’s a short mention and doesn’t cut too deep so it’s easily overlooked and dismissed, but it’s enough to make you question the validity of its inclusion.
Make no hesitation to check out The Meth Lab. Staten Island’s finest knows what you need to hear and he’s brought it back to the table for the first time since 2006. Deluxe editions of the album also include full instrumental versions of songs from The Meth lab which are worth a listen to for all the DJ’s and karaoke lovers out there. For the office building owners, it would make much more interesting elevator music than you currently have. I’ll also be suggesting it to my dentist to liven up his waiting room. It may be 2015, but stellar releases from Wu-Tang’s elite MC’s just goes to show that good hip-hop is timeless and Method Man is serving it up by the pound.