Review Summary: Ladies and germs get ready for the Ticallion Stallion! A/K/A Johnny Blaze! A/K/A The Iron Lung! A/K/A Mr. Kincaid!
A/K/A Mr. Weatherby! A/K/A Mr. Hankey! A/K/A Mr. Tibbs! A/K/A Marla Gibbs A/K/A The Say Hey Kid!
A/K/A The Frisco Kid! A/K/A Kid Dynamite!
In 1995 The Wu-Tang Clan reached the pinnacle of their popularity and established themselves as legends in the rap game. After the group of nine emcees released the very successful Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers,
de facto leader and producer RZA then produced a solo album for each of the other eight emcees. This maneuver produced four more classic albums that would influence the entire genre: GZA’s Liquid Swords,
Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
, Ghostface’s Ironman
, and Method Man’s Tical
. However, after these five classic albums were ripped out of the packages by a fanbase that was growing exponentially, the Killa Bees lost their buzz, and the group became mired in a slump.
Many attribute Wu-Tang’s slump to RZA. Being the marketing genius of the Wu-Tang Clan, so the argument goes, RZA lost focus and couldn’t produce the same quality of production. Many have claimed that RZA’s solo endeavors as Bobby Digital were fruitless marketing campaigns, aimed at allowing him to gain money and fame without his contemporary rival clan member Raekwon. Others, such as RZA himself, have blamed Raekwon, Ghostface and U-God for being too one dimensional, and not expanding their subject matter. What was clear was that the Wu-Tang clan became dysfunctional, yet even with this background, The Clan was still able to produce a number of albums that, although very inconsistent, include a bunch of quality tracks that recapture Wu-Tang Clan's sound in its prime.
Such has been the task of Wu-Tang fans since about 1998: to sift through a huge discography, making a playlist of quality tracks, while deleting some of the filler tracks that Wu-Tang had avoided up to this point entirely. Method Man’s Tical 2000: Judgment Day
is the epitome in this phenomenon. The album suffers from its many producers, and having only limited effort from RZA, who proves naysayers right on this album by providing almost nothing but lackluster beats, and a couple good ones. Tical 2000
is weighed down by filler tracks, and the 73 minute run-time is simply indigestible. The subject matter has not changed one iota since Tical
, and despite Method Man’s efforts to create a darker album, by expanding on the horrorcore style RZA developed with The Gravediggaz, the album suffers from an immature theme overall that lacks substance.
Despite all these flaws, Tical 2000
miraculously ends up being an excellent album. While the album certainly lacks cohesion, if it is judged as simply a collection of jumbled tracks, there's a lot to take away from here. “Dangerous Grounds”, produced by Wu-Tang affiliate producer True Master, recaptures the Wu-Tang’s signature style with an oriental type beat that is reminiscent of Kung Fu movies. Featured artist Street Life has a great verse on this track, and is a perfect compliment to Method Man’s style, forcing him to keep up the pace of his rhyme style and to match his aggression. He appears again on “Grid Iron Rap” to achieve the same success, leaving the listener wanting more. RZA’s effort on the album is a mixed bag, but the beat he supplies for Retro Godfather creates a flashback-to-the-70s atmosphere and is one of the most enjoyable beats on the album. When left to his own devices, Method Man gets somewhat boring, but he does deliver a number of his signature style tracks, such as “Step by Step” and “Judgement Day”. The former involves Method Man’s unique, slightly-off beat, rhyme style, where his flow comes off as impeccable and revolutionary. The latter involves Method Man crafting a clever flow to compliment the samples of periodic screaming throughout the song. Both songs show Method Man’s skills as an emcee are still present, although at times dormant, and it makes the listener wish more effort was put into trimming the length of the album and fine tuning the production.
Method Man has been regarded as both underrated and overrated throughout various points in his career. At this point, in '98, he could even be regarded as both underrated and overrated, simultaneously. Underrated as a lyricist and emcee. Overrated as a songwriter, an emcee that is apparently heavily dependent upon a certain style of beats to sound enjoyable. The lack of enthusiasm this album received forced Method Man to take a drastically different career path, doing what most would consider “Selling Out”: making silly stoner movies, creating apparel brands and being featured in music with pop stars that he shares nothing in common with but a desire to make money. In a way, it represents the 'beginning of the end' of the classic Wu-Tang era, although that sounds a bit harsh, because on the whole, even though this is a huge step down for Wu-Tang, this is, at times, an excellent album that few rap groups could outdo today.