The growing rap scene has been dominated by popular player-dressing up artists, such as Puff Daddy and Mase, for the past year and a half. The "jiggy" sound has turned the rap scene into a virtual circus of bubble-gum lyrics for kids. Various artists have changed their once street-credited images (if any really had them) to a more money-oriented, silly style: Timbaland and Magoo, Will Smith, Jermaine Dupre, Cam'ron and Missy Elliott, just to name a few.
Lucky for us, two of hip-hop's extreme forces, Method Man and Redman, have returned with an original flavor all their own.
Method Man had a huge success in 1994 with his first effort, Tical. Since then, no one has heard the Ticalian Stallion's vocals on his own record.
Redman's Muddy Waters emerged in 1996 as one of his best albums. The time leading to his latest release was spent working with Def Squad members Eric Sermon and Keith Murray.
Method Man's Tical 2000: Judgement Day is the best sophomore effort in rap since Outkast's ATLiens. The gritty street sounds are still there. The Iron Lung has improved his style with lyrics laced over new sounds. The fast beats of tracks like Retro Grandfather take us back to the '70s, and Torture shows Meth's clever musical skills. His techniques are better defined with Redman on Big Dogs. The hard-cutting vocals demonstrate why they are one of the best duos in hip-hop.
Tical 2000's best tracks are Dangerous Ground, Sweet Love and Suspect Chin Music. Dangerous Ground, featuring Streetlife, has a hard bass and wicked beat worthy of Wu-Tang. Suspect Chin Music pokes fun at "Energizer bunny rappers" who wear shiny get-ups. He asks, What kind of rap is this? And the answer is: Not rap at all.
Redman's Doc's Da Name 2000 picks up where Muddy Waters left off.
Jersey Yo! is Red's clever Jersey version of Ice Cube's Once Upon a Time in the Projects. Mr. Murray and Mr. Sermon spread some "delight" on Down South Funk. The smart words flowing on this track will leave you hungry for more. Clean your plate because I Don't Kare and Brick City Mashin? serve it up just right. Still haven't had enough? Method Man on Well All Rite Cha will leave you full.
These two CDs were worth the wait. The lyrics are entertaining and fresh. Red and Meth go together like corn chips and dip, or is that peanut butter and jelly?
-- Albert Ross