Top Ten Method Man Guest Appearances
ith the exception of his excellent debut, Tical, Method Man’s solo career has been conspicuously spotty. Conspicuous because as an MC, the man may very well be one of the most technically proficient and consistently entertaining in the game. His complex punchlines, verbal wordplay, celebrity name drops, and ability to switch from smooth, baritone lothario to sing-songy, mushmouthed hype man have made him a singular MC in the world of hip-hop. Among a group whose every member writes classic verses in the time it takes most people to eat their cereal, there’s a potential case for Method Man as the best.
Well, why not? With the possible exception of the attention-grabbing Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man has the most macroscopic star potential of any other member of the Wu. While Tical is indeed a fine album, he has never been able to deliver a project with the narrative scope, conceptual mastery, or even the bravado of other Wu solo projects. Method Man’s role has never been to create bizarre characters (RZA), street narratives (Raekwon), sprawling character dramas (Ghostface), or display martial arts MC tactics (GZA/Genius). That’s because, at heart, Meth has always been a party rapper, and party rappers are typically better guest rappers than solo artists. Case in point: Blackout! , his collaboration with Redman. A bass drenched, backseat buzzing party record, the two court jesters of hip-hop trade verses in a tutorial on how to guest rap on other people’s albums. Neither one is the star of the show because one is supporting the other, and it’s a grand slam.
The following is a list of the best Method Man guest appearances, Wu-Tang group albums, Meth solo projects, and the aforementioned Blackout! excluded:
10. Heltah Skeltah – “Gunz N’ Onez (Iz U Wit Me)” (from the album Magnum Force)
A classic NYC street cut by one of the city’s best gangsta rap duos, “Gunz N’ Onez” is a laid back banger. Sporting a hand-waving chorus and the stretched drawl of Sean Price, it’s a prime example of the type of underground rap songs that were on mixtapes at the turn of the millennium. Even though this was the time of Method Man’s most prominent success, he still keeps it grimy on a non-commercial track. To show their gratitude to a living legend, Heltah Skeltah open the door and let him rip the first verse, where he submits a gangster recital about being “all teeth, biting down on the bullet,” and commanding everyone to “respect mine like my baby mother” over playful vibes, a rubber band guitar line, and cinematic strings.
09. Masta Killa ft. U-God, RZA, and Method Man - “Iron God Chamber” (from the album, Made in Brooklyn)
A supremely underrated cut from a fairly overlooked album. Nobody noticed last year when the Ticallian Stallion threw a Rocky-style beatdown on this track. Having been relatively absent for the last three or four years, he destroys the upbeat, Stax/Volt throwback beat. Following a typically schizophrenic stream-of-consciousness rant from the RZA, Meth unleashes an arsenal of quick rhymes and hilarious metaphors faster than you can say “comeback,” informing his critics that he’s still “smoking Bob Marleys” and letting haters know “you tryin’ to ketchup when you barely cut the mustard.”
08. Missy Elliott ft. Method Man - “Bring the Pain” (from the album, Under Construction)
It’s the tail-end of 2002, and Missy decides to drop an album full of futuristic old-school throwbacks. Except that when she decides to do a sexy R&B; update of a classic Tical standout, she extends the courtesy to the original’s author to contribute a verse. Switching his persona to fit around the Timbaland renovation, Meth’s sex rap is classic, acting as a necessary break to Missy’s singing. It’s also an excellent display of one of his greatest gifts. Where another rapper might have crafted a sappy love letter penned by the R., Meth knows that his rep goes nowhere, cheekily informing his boo that “we can go halves on a baby,” and showing that sex isn’t always glamorous: “We can bump uglies / If you ain’t got your monthly.”
07. Missy Elliott ft. Redman & Method Man - “Dog in Heat” (from the album, Miss E…So Addictive)
Though this is a Missy track, the Timbaland beat feels like it’s exclusively designed for Red and Meth, echoing the minimalist, uptempo, liquid bass backdrops that comprised the majority of Blackout! Released at the height of the duo’s popularity, and opening
06. RZA ft. Method Man – “N.Y.C. Everything” (from the album Bobby Digital in Stereo)
A couple years back, RZA did an interview where he used a line from this song as an example of Method Man’s ability to give one line multiple implications. “Deep Cover / I’m like Larry when the fish burn I burn rubber / ’Cause I’m not an easy lover.” First, he begins by referencing the movie Deep Cover, starring Laurence Fishburne, then he flips the star’s name to craft an allusion to a girl having an STD (“the fish burn”). The infected vagina causes him to “burn rubber,” employing the phraseology of a tire creating friction on the road to compare to the friction caused by a condom during sex. Need I say more?
05. Ghostface ft. Raekwon & Method Man - “Box in Hand” (from the album Ironman)
The artist credit should be Method Man ft. Ghostface & Raekwon. The dynamic duo throw down some inspired rhymes, but Meth has more airtime for his one verse than they do during the whole song. RZA drops one of his signature haunted piano beats, and the MZA goes to war, killing it for nearly a minute-and-a-half while pausing for the essential shout out, “One hundred percent mind, one hundred percent body, one hundred percent soul.” A deep cut off the classic Ironman, “Box in Hand” is one of the least heard, but best, of first-wave Wu-Tang jams.
04. Mobb Deep ft. Method Man – “Extortion” (from the album Hell on Earth)
While Hell on Earth may not trump The Infamous as Mobb Deep’s most lasting statement, it very well may be their most definitive. A frightening, dismal gangsta rap album, it employs horror-film scores and spare instrumentation to assemble a montage of New York crime that pushes forward the Mobb aesthetic. Funny then, that on “Extortion,” the most formidable verse arrives in the form of John Blaze. While Meth’s playful flow stands in contrast to the stone-cold swagger of Prodigy and Havoc, his verse is ten times as frightening as either of theirs. Cutting their youthful voices off with his saxophone larynx, the teacher devises a lesson plan for the young’uns on what it really takes to be a gangster, introducing himself as “Mr. Freeze” (“the crowd shiver”) and echoing Menace II Society when he belts, “young, black, and don’t give a fuck.”
03. Ghostface ft. Raekwon, Method Man & Superb – “Flowers” (from the album Bulletproof Wallets)
“Flowers” isn’t mentioned nearly enough in discussions of classic Wu-Tang songs, but it should be. Boasting one of RZA’s best 21st-century beats, with a touchtone keyboard and ascending strings amplified by crisp snares, it’s a classic posse cut with one great verse after another. Method Man steals the show, once again trumping rugged verses by Ghost and Rae by deviating slightly from his smooth lover turn and showing off some verbal skill. He raps in a faster tempo, rhymes multiple words together in one bar, and mines a reservoir of untapped energy in the span of one minute. It’s one of the most astonishing verses he’s ever committed to a RZA beat, and the bootlegged early leak, which ditches the strings and switches to dustier percussion, is equally worth seeking out.
02. GZA/Genius ft. Method Man – “Shadowboxing” (from the album Liquid Swords)
As with both Liquid Swords and its creator, GZA/Genius, “Shadowboxing” is a song that at first seems basic, but reveals its subtleties upon repeated listens. Over a RZA beat with a sprightly bass, shivering strings, choked female vocal loop, and the prerequisite sound of swords clashing, MZA and GZA trade samurai rhymes like baseball cards. But the reason that it places so high is that it best exemplifies the key reason for Method Man’s status as a premier guest rapper: his ability to switch up his style to better suit an artist or album. On “Shadowboxing,” he lowers his voice, slows the tempo of his delivery, draws out words, and inserts pauses in between phrases and sentences, creeping under the beat with an uneasiness that fits the tone of the rest of the album.
01. Notorious B.I.G. ft. Method Man – “The What” (from the album Ready to Die)
On all of Ready to Die, Biggie had one appearance by another rapper. What prompted him to ask Method Man to be that lone contribution, aside from his obvious talent, is unknown. But who cares about knowing the history when the artifact is so stunning? “The What,” the slinky, gently thudding, warped ninth track of Ready to Die, is one of the album’s best, but it has as much to do with Method Man as it does with the Notorious B.I.G. While Big does bring some great verses to the table, it’s arguable that Meth outdoes him, embodying the best parts of his style and personality in the track. He’s playful yet dangerous, energetic yet reserved, joking yet serious, and rough and rugged on the outside even though he’s smooth underneath. There are too many punchlines and examples of clever wordplay to mention, enough to say that if you haven’t heard the song already, you should download it right now. But more than a song, it’s proof positive of Meth’s status as an unparalleled guest rapper, able to claim that he outdid the greatest rapper of all time on his own track, which, if memory serves correctly, no one else ever did.