Tical 0: The Prequel
ven before it was released, the official Wu-Tang site began firefighting with apologia about how Def Jam were releasing a version of Tical 0 which Meth wasn't altogether happy with. The intricacies of who's to blame aren’t the issue here though, the facts stand that this album is 80% total shite, and Meth recorded it and then Def Jam released it; they’re both at fault.
What has happened in the six years between Tical 0 and Tical 2000: Judgement Day that has left Method Man with something so uninspired and tired? Meth openly admits he doesn’t write rhymes without hearing the beat first, meaning he isn’t sitting on piles of notebooks like Eminem or KRS 1, storing up killer verses and lines. Intelligent or complex rhymes were never really his forte anyway; his vocal style was all about the flow, the funny metaphors/punchlines and those purposeful mispronunciations he employed in order to make lines rhyme. And it’s this natural charisma that’s allowed to ride far beyond mere hip-hop celebrity. But Wu-Tang fans want something a little grimier; a little more 94-95.
Despite Meth’s recent interview claims to the contrary, this album suffers from a lack of focus (quite worrying for an album which was supposed to be tied up with a concept of a pre-fame Method Man). The combination of the scattered production styles which Meth rarely seems comfortable spitting over and the incredible weight of the guest spots (of 17 tracks here only 3 are solo joints) make this a disheartening listen. “The Motto”, one of those few solo tracks, is the most reminiscent of the early years with its descending notes, the background digital buzzing and Meth’s languid freestyle lyrics.
The initially disappointment of lead single “What’s Happenin?” ended up becoming a grower, but it’s definitely more of a typical Busta type track with its “WHUT!” chorus. Much like Redman on “We Some Dogs”, Meth is shown up for having less presence on the mic than other MCs on his own tracks. Of course Tical 0 was pushed back so many times that this has ended up being the 3rd official lead single. Both of the former singles, in the end, were better tracks than the final choice. First came “Uh-Huh” which kicks off with a quick Rosa Parks reference and rolls into a fat soul loop of “Uh-Huh!s”. Over this animated track Meth denies he’s gone Hollywood. It eclipses all of his post-Tical material. It also doesn’t appear on the album. “Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed”, the second single, features a lean bleepy production by Jellyroll and also a slobberingly good ODB chorus. Before Tical’s release it was retitled “Who Ya Rollin Wit” and added a wishy-washy Streetlife hook, replacing the original. Apparently, Dirty wanted a hefty sum of money for offering services which the Wu traditionally do for each other for free, Meth declined and the track sounds neutered with his absence. Method Man might have hoped to replicate the tag team chemistry of “Meth Vs Chef” by sparring with Raekwon on RZA produced “The Turn”, but this is a toothless repetitive production.
But credit where credit is due with nice touches like the increasingly confident production of Denaun Porter adding a chorus of his own ‘operatic’ vocals to “Crooked Letter I” and “We Some Dogs” and Ghostface’s turn on the outstanding morning after sitcom of “Afterparty” (which really belongs on Pretty Toney). The only time Meth rhymes anything approaching the original Tical days is on “The Motto” (produced by Nasheim Myrick having now graduated from mere Bad Boy engineer) and, even then, it’s minus the menace. There’s probably an OK Tical 0 that you could Frankenstein together from the leftovers and leaks, but he wasn’t anywhere near interested or prepared to make this album; it’s a bloody mess.
Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2004-05-19