Blackout

Method Man and Redman

Island / Def Jam Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/23/2000

I must admit that it's been quite a while since I listened to a rap record completely from start to finish. How long? Well, let's just say that Death Row Records was still in charge of the rap game while Master P was trying out for pro basketball for the first time and the Cash Money Millionaires only had a single Bentley to their name. Why such a long dry spell? To be honest I grew tired of the "gangsta" attitude that seemingly every rap artist began to develop. When MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice got g-tough, that was it for me. I began to look to other places for music.

Nevertheless, I have on occasion perked my ears up when some new song comes out that either reeks of originality or has that old-school fun vibe that is so missing from many artists. (Singles like 2Pac's "California Love" and Wyclef's new "It Doesn't Matter.") But they have been rare. So imagine my surprise when I heard the first single from Wu-Tang alum Method Man and Def Jam's own Redman collaboration. While it was clearly cemented in the new school, the party feel of it was great and eventually forced me to go out and buy their album, Blackout.

Now this wasn't the first collaboration between the two "Men." They first got together for "How High," a song for the soundtrack to The Show. A guest stint on each other's albums followed. What's amazing is that it took them so long to get together. Both are declared fans of the dream herb. Both are decidedly East-Coast rappers that can create insightful and funny lyrics at the same time. And, yes, both feature "man" in their monikers. So, after much delay, the Funk Doc and Meth-Tical got together for this album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Like I said before, there is a great party vibe coming off from this album. The first single "Tear It Off" is very enjoyable, featuring danceable beats and great rhymes. That seems to be the centerpiece of the entire album. Other great tracks like that include the funny "Da Rockwilder," the third single "Y.O.U.," "Mi Casa" and "1,2,1,2."

All of the songs have one thing going for them - the interplay between Redman and Method Man. Both MCs have great chemistry and their lyric trades rank amongst the best. The problem this raises is that when they have the requisite rap guest MC's in here, they tend to change the flow that we liked on this album. Of the various guest rappers - Ja-Rule, Ghostface Killah Young Zee, Mally G - the only one that truly makes a worthwhile contribution is old school MC LL Cool J in "4 Seasons." That is not meant as a slight to the other MC's, but let's be honest. We bought a Method Man & Redman album because we wanted to hear Method Man and Redman. For the most part this is what we get and is good. It's the guest work that tends to bring their songs down.

Among the best things, as I've mentioned before, is the lyrics dropped by both Meth and Red. Just check some of them. In "1,2,1,2," you have, "From Bricks to South Park you dyin with Kenny" Or in "Dat's Da S#!t," you have the classic "To ride down like Hopper from a Bug Life?" In "How High (Remix)" they actually mention the murder of Notorious B.I.G. in "I breaks em up proppa/Ask Biggie Smalls 'Who Shot Ya'/Funk doctor, with the 12 Gauge Mossberg." LL Cool J drops perhaps the best line though with, "Them gangsta visions will have you ass up in an ambulance."

I do have some small complaints though. In the middle of this party, they drop "Cereal Killer" on you and it seems so out of place. The song - about them committing murder - is hypnotic and good, but it just seems to come out of nowhere. Two, though I clearly understand that East Coast rap is centered on very simple beats and more work out of the rhymes, I would have preferred a stronger musical work. The rhymes should make you think, but the beat should make you bounce.

My final complaint is something that perhaps might not be as big a deal for others as it is for me. In this album you have 16 brand new songs and 3 remixes of songs from previous albums - that's a total of 19 songs. That, to me, seems a bit like overkill. I would have preferred twelve or thirteen songs completely done - best of the best and then release the others as B-sides or in compilation albums. Hardcore fans might object, but there is such a thing as too much. Most rap albums, to my eye, seem to dwell here. There's nothing wrong with releasing only twelve songs - just make sure they're long enough and that they are the best you've done.

Fans of hip-hop seem to have taken to this pairing. Both Method Man and Redman have great senses of humor, strong lyrical capabilities and good cred with critics and fans. Hopefully this won't be their only collaboration They are two of the best MC's out there. Period. Blackout, a few missteps aside, shows that.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island / Def Jam Records, and is used for informational purposes only.