I have no idea whether or not this is his best album because "4:21...The Day After", Method Man's 4th studio effort, is the only album I've listened to by the Wu-Tang superstar. What I do know is that Method Man has some serious MC'ing and lyrical skills, as displayed on the stellar lead single "Say", an acoustic guitar-driven rap song where Method Man fires back at haters and critics with some of the dopest lyrics I've heard in a while, PLUS the legendary Lauryn Hill is sampled singing a cover of an anonymous Bob Marley hit.
For what it's worth, "4:21...The Day After" is a good album as a whole -ESPECIALLY when put next to today's radio-friendly Pop-Rap and Hip-Pop-, enlisting help from the likes of Erick Sermon, RZA, Raekwon, Kwame, Megan Rochell & O.D.B. amongst others, but if you compared it to Ghostface's latest effort "Fishscale", it'd most likely be crushed.
Method Man's intentions are displayed early on in the intro. Stoners furiously protest about legalizing marijuana and other drugs, and it's not long before Method Man starts spitting some fire before finishing it off by angrily stating, "How could you ever say that I'm washed up/When I'm the dirtiest thing in sight?" It's not long before Method Man's relentless, celebratory hate-fest kicks into full gear, blasting critics and modern rappers with his grimy flow and uncompromising lyrics to varying degrees of success.
Scott Storch's tired-out piano loops (which sound re-used from Paris Hilton's "Fighting Over Me") don't do much damage to Method Man's lyrical assault on the music industry on "Is It Me". The heavy Hip-Hop beat of the hateful anti-critic/music industry tracks "Somebody Done F***ed Up", the guitar-loop-driven/bass-heavy "Problem", the wicked-as-hell "The Glide" and "Dirty Mef" -a catchy collaboration with O.D.B. where Method Man wisely says, "If you don't stand for nothing/You'll fall for anything") are also worthy of repeated listens.
Thankfully, there are still some other highlights that break further away from the album's critic-bashing firestorm. Method Man seeks for love from a faithful woman on the piano-driven "4 Ever", featuring rising R&B songstress Megan Rochell. There's a nostalgic feeling to Method Man's wordplay on the awesome "Everything" and "Presidential MC", while the dark, eerie vibe of "4:20" -an obvious ode to getting stoned for those of you aware of what the 20th April represents in America- makes it one of the album's best tracks.
Unfortunately, Method Man has your typical amount of album filler. The skits are, in every sense of the word, irrelevant to any of the album's subject matter, but lack any form of relieving humour to be of any real value. Then there's summery grooves put to waste on Method Man's stale, lyrical odes to materialism and such on "Got To Have It" and the bland "Lets Ride", where Ginuwine's smooth vocals do little to uplift the latter track's cheesy come-ons and predictable clichés. "Konichiwa B****es", another hateful ode to today's commercial modern rappers, lacks the fire Method Man presented in his other tracks, leaving this bland slice of filler to rot somewhere in the dust.
While many of these tracks -including rock-inflected, Redman-assisted "Walk On" & the Fat Joe-assisted hate-fest "Ya'Meen"- are consistent in terms of production and lyrical quality, "4:21...The Day After" doesn't seem to have the clarity its title may suggest. Sure, Method Man's finally coming back hard with lots of hard rhymes, but this album's subject matter rarely goes beyond his hatred for critics and haters. Worse, he admits to focusing more on sales with some of his previous records, yet he chooses to hate on individuals who chose to belittle him for the lack of effort he deliberately failed to apply in the first place. In other words, his hatred may stand unjustified, but at the very least we're seeing one of the Wu Tang Clan's biggest stars rise back to his prime form. Lets hope he delivers more high-quality Hip-Hop with any future releases. 3.5 stars!
5 Best Tracks:
"The Glide" (feat. Raekwon, U-God & La the Darkman)
"Presidential MC" (feat. RZA and Raekwon)
"4 Ever" (feat. Megan Rochell)
"4:20" (feat. Streetlife & Carlton Fisk)
"Lets Ride" (feat. Ginuwine)"
"Got To Have It"