Almost a year to the day after the Wu-Tang Clan dropped Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Method Man put put the first solo disc of any Clan member: Tical.
Not that Meth's debut needed any added fuel, but the lead single, "Bring The Pain," was a pretty huge hit, providing even more hype to what was already a heavily-anticipated album.
While Tical does not get the same kind of recognition as some of the other Wu solo LPs, it is still widely accepted as a borderline classic in most hip-hop circles. I mean, the entire thing was produced by a prime RZA, so of course it's going to be good, right?
What you will probably notice about Tical is its lack of Wu-Tang features. Only Raekwon, RZA and Inspectah Deck make appearances, unlike most Wu projects where pretty much every member participates and there is usually one giant posse cut.
That being said, while it's a bit disappointing that Tical didn't include GZA or Ghostface Killah, that isn't the end of the world. After all, it was a Method Man album; not a Wu-Tang album, right?
Anyway, I probably should have reviewed Tical before Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... and Liquid Swords because it came out first, but oh well. I'm reviewing it now, and that's all that matters.
The song doesn't kick in until the 1:15 mark, but when it does, you'll likely be pretty satisfied. RZA's beat actually sounds darker than anything he produced on 36 Chambers, and Method Man picks up right where he left off on the group's debut album. Thanks for not taking the easy way out and just making the first track a standard intro, Meth.
RZA's drums on this knock, but it seems like the instrumental drowns out Method Man's voice. A little bit, anyway. Meth drops some hilarious lines on here, especially when he threatens to "pull your brain out your ass with a hanger."
3. Bring The Pain
The aforementioned first single, and one of the most well-known cuts in the Wu-Tang catalog. RZA lays down a booming bassline over an uptempo production, and Method Man rides it like his life was on the line when he was recording it. This is one of those records where, if you follow hip-hop at all, you probably can recite the hook even if you hadn't listened to the song in 10 years. "Bring The Pain" is nothing short of awesome. It's really real, son.
4. All I Need
I was never all that crazy about this track. I'm sure you already know that it was promptly remixed with Mary J. Blige and then released as a single which won a Grammy, and if you didn't, well, now you do. The remix doesn't change my opinion on the song, either. It's just not a favorite of mine.
5. What The Blood Clot
Now this bangs. RZA's beat is sick, and Meth obliges with a scintillating performance of his own. The bothersome thing is that the song essentially ends at the 1:55 mark, as Method Man then goes into shoutout mode for the remainder of the record.
6. Meth vs. Chef
Take a wild guess as to who the guest is on this cut. Regardless of your prediction (and please tell me you didn't guess wrong), this track is freaking great, as Meth and Raekwon (whoops) sound incredibly energized over the dope RZA production.
7. Sub Crazy
"Sub Crazy" consists of a roaring bassline and an unorthodox "clap" over a dreary sample, and it is extremely effective. RZA's instrumental will probably break your neck, and Method Man unequivocally rips it. I just wish this were a little longer.
8. Release Yo Delf
Yes; that is Blue Raspberry interpolating Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and you know what? It works. "Release Yo Delf" was Tical's second single, and it is also the album's best song. Meth sounds like he was possessed on the fire RZA beat, making this a record that everyone needs in their pump-up playlist. Perhaps most importantly, this cut doesn't suffer from a lack of length like some of the project's other great records.
9. P.L.O. Style
The "Carlton Fisk" featured on here is not the Carlton Fisk of Major League Baseball fame, but you probably already knew that. Anyway, after the four-headed monster that was the preceding four cuts, "P.L.O. Style" comes off as a bit underwhelming. It's definitely not a bad track; it's just not one of the stronger ones on Tical. Thankfully, it doesn't run any longer than it has to.
10. I Get My Thang In Action
One of RZA's most ominous beats on what was already an ominous-sounding album to begin with. Method Man sounds appropriately inspired, and he tears the production to shreds, the fairly lame hook notwithstanding. Something you're probably beginning to notice, however, is that Tical kind of sounds like one long song. That's not always a bad thing, though, and this album is one of those "not bad" examples.
11. Mr. Sandman
A very typical Wu track. If there is a posse cut on the album, this is it, as RZA, Inspectah Deck, Streetlife and Carlton Fisk all appear. That doesn't mean this is all that good, though, because it really isn't. Not compared to the rest of the project, anyway.
This was pretty solid. RZA's instrumental, while not his best, is decent, and Meth seems just as interested as he does on the rest of Tical. Blue Raspberry makes her second appearance on the album, and she does alright on the hook.
13. Method Man (Remix)
I really don't see why Meth (and RZA) felt the need to remix the original, which is far, far superior to this boring-ass version.
There is a reason why hip-hop critics do not put Tical on the same level as Liquid Swords or Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...: because, flatly, it's not as good. That's not exactly much of a condemnation, though, as those two albums are two of the finest pieces of work in rap history.
On it own, Tical is a damn good project. It contains some of the dustiest production RZA has ever done, and from his beats, you could blatantly glean that this was the first Wu-Tang solo album without doing any research. The beats sound like a cross between 36 Chambers and GZA and Raekwon's debuts, and that is certainly not a bad thing.
Method Man is fully engaged from start-to-finish on Tical, and that may be the most important factor of the album. No matter what type of instrumental RZA provided him with, he attacked it with a ferocity that was uniform throughout the entire project. Good on you, Meth.
While you are not going to find many kids listening to Tical these days, you can see--better yet, hear--flashes here and there on the album as to why Method Man has become the most accessible Wu-Tang member. His style isn't particularly unorthodox, so he's comprehensible, and his rhymes range from hilarious to downright strange.
You need to make sure you have Tical in your collection if you consider yourself to be a fan of hip-hop, especially golden era hip-hop. People underestimate the impact that this project had on the game.
It's just a shame that Method Man has never been able to even come close to duplicating what he accomplished on his debut.
1. Release Yo Delf
2. Sub Crazy
3. Bring The Pain
4. Meth vs. Chef
5. What The Blood Clot