Method Man Breaks Down His 25 Most Essential Songs

From "C.R.E.A.M." to classic collabos with Biggie, 2Pac, and Mary J Blige, Tical goes in on the making of his greatest songs, revealing a wealth of Wu wisdom.

Method Man on stage
Image via Getty Images
Method Man on stage

Method Man is a great rapper who gets a bad rap. Despite being one of the most prominent East Coast emcees of the '90s and the first breakout star of the Wu-Tang Clan, he's often accused of being an underachiever who complains too much. "Eff a rap critic," he once proclaimed on wax. "He talk about it while I live it."

Yet, the fact remains: Tical had an incredible run during the '90s. One of the main architects behind Wu-Tang's classic debut, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, he was one of the few rappers who worked with both 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. Meth even collaborated with Mary J. Blige to make the greatest hip-hop love song of all time, "All I Need (Remix)." Needless to say, the man's catalog ain't nuthing ta fuck wit.

With Johnny Blaze headlining the Smokers Club Tour it seemed a perfect time to jump on the horn and chop it up about how some of his classic songs came together. Altough he's often had the reputation for being crabby during interviews, he showed Complex much love.

Method Man came across as a thoughtful, mature O.G. with lots to get off his chest and a treasure trove of Shaolin secrets to share—from meeting Pac for the first time while high on shrooms, to how the flooding of RZA's basement impacted the making of his solo debut, to who actually wrote the majority of Ol' Dirty Bastard's first album. So get your mind right, and prepare to learn the Method behind the madness.

As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)

Wu-Tang Clan “Method Man” (1993)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Label: Loud

Method Man: “RZA and me were in his house one day and he was making beats. That’s when he made the ‘Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F' Wit’ beat and he made the ‘Method Man’ beat. I happened to be there first, so I got to jump on it first. I had wrote this rhyme after I heard the Michael Jackson song [“Come Together”]—it was a remake of The Beatles song—it just fit perfect with the whole beat and everything, so we just put that shit down.

“I didn’t have an extensive record collection but I always grew up around music so I have an extensive memory of records. Even if I didn’t know the words to the song, I had my own version of the words. I said ‘Move it on your left! Ah!’ I was supposed to say ‘Set it up on your left! Ah!’ But that’s what it sounded like in my memory.

“When I did ‘Method Man,’ the way I got the hook part was half of it was Michael Jackson’s remake of the Beatles joint, and the beginning was a mixture of Hall & Oates, ‘Method of Modern Love,’ and the ‘Man’ part came from ‘Music Man’ by Masta Ace.

“That was just me making the record in my head. I was sampling it in my fucking head and saying it like it would be sampled. The ‘Hey, you! Get off my cloud!’ That’s Bootsy Collins. It just fit because we were talking about getting high.

“[The torture skit] was some block shit that we used to do because when dudes was snapping, a lot of personal shit would come out and dudes would get angry behind that shit. You’d be amazed at some of the mother jokes that come up. When you do it [like the Chef and I did it], you saying the most outlandish shit in the world knowing damn well nobody gon’ really do shit like that to you. But it’s funny at the same time, just some of the shit niggas think of.

“That’s just something we can call our own. It started on the block. We would have movie night—this is when VCRs got big [and TVs were] really heavy—and we would get a bunch of dudes together with three dime bags of weed and we’d all smoke it and watch a movie on VHS. After the movie was over, dudes would still be high, so dudes start geeking and snapping on each other. That’s where all that shit came from.

“We were just saying it off the top. We was just going in there, just whatever stuck. The same way with the rhymes. You go up in there and you spitting shit and if it didn’t work, you had to go. Every now and then, you had that shit that just gelled so well ya had to keep it.

“[Getting a solo song] just happened. In the same breath, GZA had his solo joint on there too. I don’t know why RZA did ‘Method Man’ first. I guess it was a sign of the times and what people were actually listening to. Leaders [Of The New School] and a few other groups [with] that frantic style where it was just all over the place were popular at that time. I guess RZA being who he was and being so in tune with what the flavor was, he was like, ‘Yeah. We gonna put this ‘Method Man’ joint on because this is something nobody has ever heard before.’

“I remember watching the ‘Method Man’ video on TV. I was eating white rice with ketchup on it. No food in the house. I think it was Thanksgiving too. I was feeling bad like, ‘Damn, this shit is not popping. This fucking rap shit is weak.’”

Wu-Tang Clan “Protect Ya Neck” (1993)

Producer: Prince Rakeem (The RZA)

Album: Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Label: Loud

Method Man: “RZA came to us and said, ‘I’m doing this record. I wanna do this record with all of ya.’ Wu-Tang was supposed to be just him, Ol’ Dirty, and GZA. All of us collectively, was just gon’ be on the posse cut. ‘Protect Ya Neck’ was supposed to be the posse cut. So, everybody that showed up with $100 got on the record.

“But it wasn’t just anybody, it was dudes that fucked with each other. Every Friday we’d be up in RZA’s house making joints. Dirt Dog and GZA came about later on. GZA was already established, so niggas wasn’t doing songs with GZA like that. It was just the Park Hill niggas: myself, Chef, U-God every now and then, Inspectah Deck. Streetlife was there back in the day too, he was on this shit named ‘6 Man Symphony.’

“We all paid our $100 to get on the joint to pay for the studio time. Niggas was hustling on the block at the time, so $100 was like sell 10 cracks and you in. That’s how that song came about.

“As far as the order went, I don’t know how that shit happened but it just happened. We all went in there one after the other after the other and it just fit. It wasn’t no ‘Go back in and put his verse here and move his verse there.’

“Instead of saying, ‘Make me cough,’ I wanted to be different so I said, ‘Make me [Cough].’ I just felt like saying it like that. It was myself, a MC named King Just, and a few others who used to use sound effects in our rhymes. It was a Park Hill thing.

“[As far as the sound effects on the beat], none of that shit was there at first. After the song was done and we heard it, I heard all that shit. You know why [RZA] did it? Because of curses and for edits. The kid’s a genius.

“If anything had RZA’s stamp on it, those sound effects over curse words did. That’s the whole reason why Prodigy got so much flack over using that shit. That’s something nobody ever did before. Next thing you know, you see them on everybody’s fucking record.”

Wu-Tang Clan “C.R.E.A.M.” (1993)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Label: Loud

Method Man: “‘C.R.E.A.M.’ was the one that really put us on the map if you wanna be technical. I wasn’t there when they recorded ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ I came in after the fact. RZA was like, ‘Put a hook on this song’ and I put a hook on it. That’s how it always went. I liked doing hooks.

“The hook for that was done by my man Raider Ruckus. We used to work at the Statue of Liberty and when we were coming home we used to come up with all these made-up words that were acronyms.

We had words like ‘BIBWAM’ which meant, ‘Bitches Is Busted Without A Man’ and all this other crazy shit. Raider Ruckus was so ill with the way he put the words together. We would call money ‘cream’ so he took each letter and made a word out of it and killed it the way he did it.

“Something like that had never been done before as far as a hook or even a way of speaking. This is just showing and proving that we paid attention in class when we was kids. You can’t do shit like that unless you got a brain in your fucking head! You got to have some level of intelligence to do something like that.

“The best acronym for a word that I heard was ‘P.R.O.J.E.C.T.S.’ by Killah Priest. He said ‘People Relying On Just Enough Cash To Survive.’ And he’s the one that came up with ‘Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,’ the acronym for B.I.B.L.E. This ain’t no fluke shit man.

“There’s a reason you got millions upon millions of fucking kids running around with Wu-Tang tattoos. You don’t just put something on your body permanently unless it’s official. At that time, when you’re coming out brand new and representing where you come from, everybody from that area wants you to win because they win. That’s what it was like for us.

“We were the only dudes from Staten Island doing it so everybody from Staten Island wanted us to win. Not just dudes from Staten Island, but dudes from Brooklyn too because they had peoples in the group too. Then it was just grimy niggas who loved to see real shit, saying, ‘We riding with them Wu-Tang niggas. Fuck all that shiny suit shit!’ That ain’t no take on Puff, a lot of niggas was wearing suits and shit man, but that ain’t us.”

Wu-Tang Clan “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit” (1993)

Producer: The RZA, Method Man

Album: Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Label: Loud

Method Man: “That was one of the records when RZA was making the beat for ‘Method Man.’ He made two beats that day: ‘Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit’—and everybody knows that’s from ‘Underdog’ because I remember he had the CD and it had all the children’s songs on it. He just sat there and chopped that shit. He ain’t do too much to it really.

“RZA may dispute this, but I remember it vividly: I told him to use the Biz Markie beat part. I told him to put that beat underneath that shit. Those two beats were made that same day and I rhymed on both of them.

“I forgot what the rhyme was that was on the original ‘Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit’ beat, but that was a solo joint that I did too. He turned it into ‘Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit.’ It was either that one or ‘The Ice Cream Man Is Coming.’ I was getting it in that day.

“At that point in time in my career, that’s all I wanted to do. It wasn’t like bang out as many as we can at this time. It was like, ‘Yo, what time we going to the studio? I’ll be there. I got a $1.50 in my fucking pocket! I’m hopping the fucking turnstile and I’ll get there.’

“[After all the songs started coming out] things didn’t change overnight. It was still a grind. We saw the pitfalls. There was a lot of shit going on. We had to whip some ass on the way up. That’s real shit. And we were getting treated like second-class fucking citizens.

“I love Tha Alkaholiks, but when we went out on the road with them, since they had a video getting burn on MTV, Cali, and all that, they were getting more love at the in-stores. They had displays up for them and shit. All we had were them little stickers that we were giving out to niggas.

“We knew that it would be a grind but it was a whole lot better than what we were doing before that. I hated hustling. That shit was a pain in the ass in itself. You didn’t just have to worry about getting locked up, you had to worry about getting shot by a jealous-ass nigga that just want your spot or getting stuck up by niggas that don’t think you carrying.

“Motherfuckers make you shoot them. I’m serious! Motherfuckers will make you kill them because of the simple fact that they pressure on you in the ’hood. It’s like, ‘We ain’t eating? Ain’t nobody fucking eating.’ It’s just bad. Hip-hop saved a lot of niggas man.

“Everybody from the block just started working at the Statue of Liberty. One dude got in and brought everybody from the ’hood in that bitch. [We did] concessions and sold food. They wouldn’t let us touch the registers. The girls would touch the registers. They knew that if they let them dudes touch the registers, the fucking inmates would run the asylum. We talking like five years of my life up there. I was a working nigga!”

Notorious B.I.G. f/ Method Man “The What” (1994)

Producer: Easy Mo Bee

Album: Ready To Die

Label: Bad Boy

Method Man: “We were in Atlantic City and ran into Guru of Gang Starr. He was with this kid name Dan Smalls, whom I used to work with at the Statue of Liberty. Guess who he’s working for? Uptown Records. He’s like, “I’ve got a CD for you. It’s the Who’s The Man? Soundtrack, but I want you to listen to my man. It’s a single called ‘Party & Bullshit.’” I listened to that shit, I was like, ‘Ri-diculous. This nigga’s insane!’ But then I didn’t hear nothing of it after that.

“Long story short, my man Raider Ruckus was like, ‘Yo, you need to do a song with this Biggie dude.’ There goes that name again. I’m like, ‘Yeah? Why?’ He’s like, ‘He’s got this song called ‘Me And My Bitch,’ here’s the tape.’ So I take the tape, play the shit, and I listen to the record.

“It was like when you see a great movie and the credits are rolling, but you’re sitting there reading the credits, because the movie was just so fucking good. You’re sitting there until the last credit rolls out, and even when the lights come on you’re still a little reluctant to get out of your seat, because you want to savor that experience. That’s how I felt when I heard ‘Me And My Bitch.’

“Then, we did a show at The Muse and I met Biggie. I remember because he had the Big shirt on that he wore in the ‘Juicy’ video. He walked up to me and he had a scarf around his head trying to cover up the eyeball bag. He had it pulled it down and he was like, ‘Yo, I’m Big. I’m trying to do this record with you.’ I was like, ‘Yo, I’m with it. Whenever you want to do it.’ He was like, ‘Alright, cool. I’ll be in touch.’

“At that time, nobody had cell phones so we didn’t exchange numbers. But Tracy Waples—who got me my deal at Def Jam—was the bridge that got me in the studio with Big. On the way to the studio, she was playing the album and she was saying every song on there was ridiculous.

“I thought she was fucking fronting [Laughs.] I was like, ‘That’s why we don’t trust industry motherfuckers. Whatever, motherfucker. You’s an industry motherfucker. You don’t know nothing.’ She wasn’t fronting. Tracy knows her shit.

“We get to the studio. Puffy wants to play torture. I remember I said something to him, ‘I’ll fucking liquidate all your fucking assets.’ It was a good one. Puff’s always been a cool brother. I’ve never seen him uncomfortable, with the exception of the Source Awards. [Laughs.] He kind of stammered a little when he went up there like, ‘I’m the artist that umm...umm.’

“Contrary to what everybody thinks, Big sat there and wrote his verse on paper. I sat down and I wrote my shit on paper. The reason I know this is because he told me, ‘I need you to say this line right here.’ I was like, ‘What line, Big?’ He was like, ‘I’ve got more Glocks and tecs than you / I make it hot, niggas won’t even stand next to you.’ I was like, ‘I got you.’

“After he did that with me, when I wrote my second verse, I was like, ‘Damn, now I gotta put him in my verse and shit.’ So, ‘Stop, look and listen,’ was all I had for him. That shit was done fast and shit.

“Next thing I know, I hear it on the radio. I’m like, ‘Whoa. Niggas feeling that shit? Wait until they hear this shit.’ I knew Big had some shit on his album so I was like, ‘They’re going to lose they fucking minds!’

“Rae and Ghost weren’t really rocking with Big. But me and Big were cool. Anytime we were all in the same area and my goons would go by and not say shit to the nigga, he would still speak. That’s why I loved the nigga.

“I would go over to Big and be like, ‘What’s good, my nigga?’ and kick it with him. I knew the shit bothered him but he never showed me that it bothered him. In the same sense, I showed him that, ‘Look, that’s how certain individuals feel and shit, but me and you, we good.’ I think he respected that shit.

“If you look in hindsight, Rae’s done a fucking joint dedicated to Biggie. He’s saying in the record, ‘It wasn’t even that we ain’t like you, nigga. It was the competition at the point in time.’ That’s exactly what it was.

“They weren’t rocking with him and it was just the competition of the moment. Rae is the same type of nigga he was. If anything, I think them niggas should have done a joint together. Fuck me and Big, Rae and Big would have been Watch The Throne.

Method Man f/ Streetlife “All I Need (Original)” (1994)/ Method Man f/ Mary J. Blige “All I Need (Remix)” (1994)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Tical

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: “Wonderful story behind [the record]. I was recording my album on the road and we lived in San Francisco for about three weeks. We had little apartments out there. Being out on the road so long, I was missing my girl so I used my money and flew her out.

“Me and RZA had joining rooms. So he’s in there making the ‘All I Need’ beat and I swear on everything I love I wrote that record right there while she was laying next to me, asleep in the bed. I hadn’t seen her in a month and I was just so happy to see her. I wrote the record, recorded the record, and wrote the hook. That’s why the original is on there like that.

“After Def Jam pops off with the album and ‘Bring The Pain’ was big, they wanted me to do ‘All I Need’ as the second single. [I said], ‘No, no, no! I won’t do ‘All I Need’ as the second single.’ RZA agreed. He said we were gonna do, ‘Release Yo Delf.’ I didn’t want to do ‘Release Yo Delf.’ RZA picked that [as the second single]. I don’t even do the shit at my shows but this Smokers Club tour, I’m gonna do it.

“We go and do the ‘Release Yo Delf’ video that Steve Carr shot. I was mad at him because I didn’t like the look and the feel of the video. It was like he was trying to recreate ‘Method Man,’ and that wasn’t gonna happen. Then the ‘All I Need’ shit pops up again.

“Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, and people in the office were like, ‘You need to pop off with this record.’ This time they had RZA down with it. I’m playing with them so I’m like, ‘I’m gonna need some money to do this record.’ [They asked], ‘What do you need?’ and I said a new Lexus. I was just playing, I had a car already. But they shelled it out.

“Russell or Lyor had the brilliant idea to get Mary on the song. But to get Mary, you gotta go through Puffy. So now here comes the dilemma: RZA’s a producer and Puffy’s a producer. Puff wants to do his version and RZA want to do the track too. So what do we do here? How do we compromise?

“Man, I must’ve went in there and did four different versions of ‘All I Need,’ Same beats but different verses. The Puffy one and the RZA one sound completely different and the original sounds completely different than both of them.

“When we did it, it was just me, Mary, and Puff. I was spitting blood during the recording of the ‘All I Need (Remix).’ [Going in the studio with Mary], I was having all these fucking tooth aches. Right after I came out the dentist office, numbed up and everything, I went to CVS, got my pain killers prescription, went up in the studio, and was spitting blood in-between takes.

“I remember the first time I met Mary. I got invited to Biggie’s gold party at the Roseland Ballroom. They got footage of that on YouTube. I had the big afro and the brown leather coat, we was bums. We ain’t give a fuck. [That’s] Staten Island for you. I met Mary that night and she told me she wakes up to ‘Bring The Pain’ every goddamn day. I was like, ‘Well shit, I love the shit out of Mary J. Blige!’ She ain’t have to say that shit to me.

“That shit was bananas because when it dropped. When we was coming up, when all that club shit was popping, if you couldn’t dance and wasn’t on your pretty boy shit, them chicks was not fucking with you. I hate pretty boys. Pretty boys got this obnoxiousness about them. It make you want to beat the pretty off them, like scar them up or something.

“I felt that song was putting me in that light. What I didn’t realize was, niggas was respecting that song as well as chicks was. The way I presented that song didn’t feel like a love song. Plus, with me in the background saying, ‘It ain’t a love song!’ trying to beat that in people’s heads helped.

“We coming in the same vain as Snoop Dogg when he said, ‘We don’t love these hoes.’ Yeah, we don’t love ’em either! Niggas could be like, ‘Fuck that bitch! Fuck that hoe!’ but in the back is his baby moms or his wife that he treats with the utmost fucking respect. We don’t treat every chick like that. Nobody wants to be treated like that, but the ones that act the part—hey, if it’s a fucking spade I’m gonna call it a spade. And if nobody holds our black women high, I do.

“I remember the phone calls and getting called up to the office. I watched how we started from doing college tours to bars to theaters to outside venue festivals to arenas off this one fucking record.

“Another thing I realized, at first there were nothing but grimy niggas at my shows. Once that record dropped, it was blond hair and silver outfits all in the front! There were a bunch of little Mary J. Blige’s running all through the damn party.

“Then we got the Grammy. That was cool. Mary got a few after that but I got that one. I am very proud of that award. It was Mary’s first too, so I can always say I was her first.

“At the end of the day, we got the record done. Puffy was happy, RZA was happy, people that got it were happy, and Lyor sat back with his cigar like, ‘See, I told you! You should’ve done this record when I told you to. You would’ve been outta here!’”

Method Man f/ Booster “Bring The Pain” (1994)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Tical

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: “[One thing about that album,] dust is a powerful drug. I was dusted when I did [the title track ‘Tical’]. I could never do it on stage when I first did it because I was dusted when I did that record. I can do it now though. You can tell almost when I’m like, ‘What’s that shit that they be smoking!’ It goes off record, it goes on record. I was gone! I just wanted that to be known.

“Anyway, ‘Bring The Pain’ was already done, I had that beat before we even did a Wu-Tang album. I had that beat for a long fucking time. Soon as I started my album, I asked RZA if I could have that beat. I think he had to remake it because all that shit got lost in the flood. So when he remade it, we went in and did the ‘Bring The Pain’ record. I loved it from day one.

“[After the flood happened], we were out on tour promoting Enter The 36 Chambers. While we’re on tour, [I recorded my album]. When everybody else was going to their rooms, me and RZA was going to the studio. I always felt like my album was real pieced together, I recorded in San Francisco, Texas, L.A., everywhere.

“I was recording in some of the weirdest spots. Some of these places had mice and shit and coat hangers with a stocking cap wrapped around it for fucking popper stoppers. When we in the studio recording, on some days, like when we did ‘Stimulation,’ I couldn’t record the way I wanted to because my voice was damn near gone from performing that night.

“But the hunger was there because I really wanted to get that shit done. I was the nigga on the outside looking in so I was comfortable. I knew that they didn’t know what to expect from me, so anything that I put out was gonna work for me because I felt that it would. I had that energy and aura about me at that time, I had the upper hand. I didn’t have to live up to a first album because there wasn’t one. Everything would be fresh and new.”

Method Man f/ Raekwon “Meth Vs. Chef” (1994)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Tical

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: “When we got off tour and went home, we settled in Chung King [Recording Studios]. That’s when ‘Meth Vs. Chef’ was popping off. I remember when I did ‘Meth Vs. Chef’ I was tired so I went to rest. I was resting in the studio and when I woke up I heard my man lounging low on there and it was like waking up from a nap and hearing ‘Knocking The Boots’ and saying ‘Wow, this song is fucking hot.’

“I remember when I wrote ‘What The Blood Clot,’ I was on an airplane. [Me and the Wu-Tang had] argued about some shit. I forget what, but I knew I was just mad at niggas. That whole verse I was just shooting at everybody on my team [Laughs]. I was mad as shit.

“Funny thing was, I was playing my radio on the plane and you can’t do that shit. But nobody said shit to me. I was writing to ‘It’s All In The Mind’ off Eric Sermon’s No Pressure. That’s what I wrote ‘What The Blood Clot’ off of. But on ‘Meth vs Chef,’ we wasn’t battling. It was friendly competition. The crazy shit about my crew is, shit that was fun to us, we did.

“Like usually niggas take they niggas on their birthday down to a party or whatever. One time, on Ghost’s birthday, we all went down to Stapleton with 40 oz’s and champagne and shit, and rhymed all fucking night. That’s what we would do. It started raining and we were drawing crowds and everything. Rhyme—all fucking night. [We were] just dedicated like that. We wasn’t getting no money. We just loved to do it.

“Coming from that perspective, I don’t know how that ‘Meth Vs. Chef’ record happened. Chef rhymed and was like, ‘Meth vs. Chef,’ and I’m like, ‘Nigga what? Meth vs. Chef?’ I think it was right after one of those sessions that the record came about.

“Later on, me and Chef always bumped heads. I guess that song was a precursor for things to come because we used to always bump heads and we disagreed on a lot of shit so we would argue with each other. He felt shit should be one way and I felt shit should be another way. It’s crazy, way after ‘Meth Vs. Chef’ he became the one I argued with the most.”

Ol’ Dirty Bastard f/ Method Man & Raekwon “Raw Hide” (1995)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version


Method Man: “In the early days, when we weren’t really popping off like that, I was always in the studio with RZA. So I used to be with RZA all the time after the album. I wasn’t trying to go on the block, that was a trap. So I used to take my little change and take the ferry.

“I caught the ‘Raw Hide’ joint and there was a couple other joints we did [that night]. There was a bunch of joints we did but I just wanted to spit on any joint that I liked. So it didn’t matter. If I was at the studio, I spit on it. If it worked, we kept it. That was usually everything I spit on.

“Dirty’s album came out after mine. But Dirty had gotten his deal before me, he just spent all his fucking money up. He spent all his money and bought this little piece-of-shit-ass fucking car. [Laughs.] Shit was horrible.

“Dirty was making his shit for damn near two years. His shit was taking long as fuck. If you listen to the album, there was so much time in between songs, that the nigga repeated the same verse three times on the same album. Three times! [Laughs.]

“That’s proof right there that this nigga was working at a snail’s pace. There was so much time in between records that this motherfucker must have forgot, because RZA doesn’t let you hear shit. Once you leave the studio, you don’t hear it anymore.

“The majority of the verses on that album are old RZA rhymes and GZA rhymes. ‘Approach the school, 9:30, you’re late,’ that’s RZA’s shit, I heard that shit when I was 14 years old. That whole, ‘Easy on my balls, they’re fragile as eggs,’ niggas said that in a rap battle in fucking 1989.

“Dirty took all their shit and made it his own and GZA ain’t say shit. Most of [Dirty’s verses] was GZA’s shit. I remember GZA and ODB got in an argument one night and GZA was like, ‘Nigga most of that shit on your fucking album is mines anyway!’

“ODB wrote ‘Brooklyn Zoo’ though. I could go through the discography I could tell you which ones he wrote. Like ‘Dog Shit’ on Wu-Tang Forever? The fucking, ‘Calling me a dog/But leave a dog alone/Because nothing can stop me from burying my bones,’ I wrote that when I was 15 years old.

“The beginning of Ghostface’s verse on ‘Cherchez La Ghost,’ that’s my song ‘I Get Down For My Crown.’ I wrote that when I was 16. The first four bars, ‘Brothers try to pass me, but none could match me/No girl can freak me, I’m just too nasty,’ that’s ‘I Get Down For My Crown.’ Youtube it and you’ll find it because J-Love put all that shit up there.

Raekwon f/ Method Man, Ghostface Killah & Cappadonna “Ice Cream” (1995)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

Label: Loud/RCA/BMG

Method Man: “I did that the same week I did ‘Shadowboxin’.’ It was in the same spot, RZA’s basement. I’m sitting there and RZA gave me an idea. He was like, ‘Yo, why don’t we just compare chicks to ice cream? I’ve got a vision, listen. We compare chicks to ice cream, and we can make t-shirts and all that shit with different flavors on them.’ I’m like, ‘I’m hip. What are we going to call the flavors?’ He says, ‘Chocolate Deluxe, Butter Pecan Rican.’

“I’m listening to him, and as I’m listening, I’m writing them down, and I’m writing the hook. I could have said any fucking flavors I wanted to say, but those right there were the ones that RZA gave me. It was his vision, I just brought it to life.

“I didn’t even know Cappadona was on it. I didn’t hear the finished product until after the album was done. RZA was good with that, you couldn’t get a tape from him. He wouldn’t let you take shit with you. So when you did it that night, you were trying to listen to it as many times as possible, because after that you weren’t hearing nothing else. He took the reel home with him every day.

“That was back in the days when I would even work the board. I did all the mixing and mastering on my second album. I did all the echos, the beat dropping out, and coming back in. RZA used to let me do that shit a lot. I was supposed to go in a whole different direction. It was just that towards the middle, I was like, ‘Nah. I’m not as interested as I used to be.’

“Like I made the beat to the St. Ides. song ‘Special Brew.’ RZA sampled the drums, but that’s me playing the keyboard on that original St. Ides shit. I just don’t do it often because I’m lazy. I did ‘Judgement Day’ too. I put that together. Mind you, I didn’t sample any of the music. I just put it together the way I liked it.

“What GZA and Raekwon’s albums had that my album didn’t have was True Master. True Master did a lot of joints on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. He did songs like ‘Assasination Day,’ ‘Fish,’ a few joints.

“When it was me and RZA, it was just me and RZA. RZA produced every track on my first album. Ol’ Dirty Bastard had the same shit. 36 Chambers, that was RZA’s coming-out party. Sometimes when we did verses, they just dropped into place and we left them as is. So a lot of shit just dropped into place with him.

“When he did my album he had clarity. It was like it was training. That’s the way I took it. By the time he did Rae’s album and GZA’s album, he was so focused. It was like, ‘Okay, this is how it’s done.’

“I had to work a little bit harder than everybody else because you know that the [volume on my] album sounds low. Some of the tracks were lost and had to get redone. But I crawled through that shit and came out smelling like a rose. But they definitely had that right there, and that shit worked out really well for them.”

GZA f/ Method Man “Shadowboxin’” (1995)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Liquid Swords

Label: Geffen/MCA Records

Method Man: “It’s crazy because I had put those two verses on there. GZA was supposed to put two verses on there too, but he only put one. I don’t know what happened. That’s RZA. Being in the studio, in the dungeon by himself, he’ll think the shit out like, ‘Fuck it. Let’s do it this way.’

“When I made that record, that’s when my style flipped. It became something else. That record and ‘The Riddler.’ Before that, it was always uptempo shit. It was ‘Release Yo’ Delf,’ ‘Method Man,’ ‘Bring The Pain.’

“But ‘Shadowboxin’’ wasn’t that frantic shit. Music always depends on what kind of vibe you’re in. It would just be me and RZA in the studio and I always listened to RZA. He was one of my biggest critics and my muse.”

Method Man & Redman “How High” (1995)

Producer: Erick Sermon

Album: The Show

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: "We did the hook before we did the record. We were on the road together, thinking of a hook and it just came to me one night. ‘How High? High enough to kiss the sky/How sick? So high that you can suck my dick,’ I came up with that. Doc came up with, ‘Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane/Recognize Johnny Blaze, ain’t a damn thing changed.’ Then we came up with our rhymes and shit. That was us just brainstorming and being on the road with each other for three weeks.

“When I said, ‘Excuse me as I kiss the sky,’ That’s my version of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze.’ When people got that in their heads, people who know music and know lyrics, when they heard that, they were like, ‘This nigga’s either a genius or just a klutz genius.’

“That’s how you can tell with Hendrix and all these guys, there’s a method to their madness. The same shit was going on with me. There’s a method to the madness man.

“‘Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,’ that came from watching cartoons with Bugs Bunny. They taught us a lot of shit. Some of these Beethoven overtures and shit, I don’t know the name of them, but I know the music and shit.

“The beauty of the first line, ‘Excuse me while I kiss the sky,’ is that it says so much. When you take a hit off the weed, and you go to blow the smoke out in a cloud, it looks like your lips are blowing a kiss. That’s kissing the sky. It’s a beautiful thing right there.

“If you ask why there’s so many of ‘How High,’ ask why there’s so many versions of ‘All I Need.’ That’s what they were on at that time. That’s why there’s so many versions of Biggie’s ‘One More Chance.’ I remember Craig Mack did a bunch of ‘Flava In Ya Ear’ remixes. He had the remix, the one for radio, the fucking original, it was just fucking madness man.

“[As far as the ‘eff a rap critic’ line,] let me tell you something: You get a bunch of people in a room to say your shit is garbage, you’re going to have 10 more motherfuckers saying it’s garbage after that. After that even if it ain’t garbage, you’re going to have another 10 more motherfuckers. The masses can get led by the few. [The rap critics] already tore me a new one five years ago. They showed me who’s got the power. I know who’s got the power.”

2Pac f/ Tha Dogg Pound, Method Man, & Redman “Got My Mind Made Up” (1996)

Producer: Daz Dillinger

Album: All Eyez On Me

Label: Death Row/Interscope

Method Man: “I was out in Cali, Daz and them came and picked a nigga up. We went over Daz’s house. That was like my third time there. Those were my niggas so we used to hang. Daz throws on the record and I remember Rage was there. We were all rhyming on it. He went first, then Rage went, then Kurupt, then me, then Red, then Inspectah Deck.

“Then Pac comes home. I hadn’t heard anything about the record, but I had done so many different records with so many different niggas and I never really heard anything. Pac comes home and All Eyez On Meis being recorded. I’m listening to the radio, and it comes on the radio. So I’m like, ‘Oh shit.’ I’m listening to it and I hear Pac.

“I was like, ‘Pac jacked the song I did with Dogg Pound.’ Then I hear Kurupt’s verse and I’m like, “Okay, they gave Pac the record. That’s what’s up.’ Then I hear my verse and I’m like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute.’ Then I hear Red’s verse and I’m waiting to hear Deck’s verse. I’m like, ‘Yo, Deck killed this shit. What the fuck is going on?’

“But those are my niggas. Being a real nigga, I know how shit goes. Like ‘California Love,’ that was a great record. I knew Pac came home and they just threw everything at Pac like, ‘Yeah, you can have that shit.’ So I respected that right there.

“What I would have liked to have had was a phone call personally from that man. That would have felt a whole hell of a lot better, because then it would have really felt like I did this record with him. I met him after that though, and he was cool.

“I never even got a plaque for that shit. Me and Pac never even discussed it. [Laughs.] That was something I did on the strength of my love for Dogg Pound, because those were my niggas. I was like, ‘Fuck a verse. That don’t mean shit right now. Nigga, you can have that. We peoples.’”

Mobb Deep f/ Method Man “Extortion” (1996)

Producer: Mobb Deep

Album: Hell On Earth

Label: Loud/RCA/BMG

Method Man: “Halfway into it I lost interest. You can tell by the way the verse gets choppy towards the end. That night, I was writing and getting so fucked up. After like the fifth blunt, I was in there stuck on a line like, ‘Shit.’

“Then Nas came up in there. I was kicking it with Nas and shit and I just lost all of my train of thought. Time was running out, it was getting late, niggas were like, ‘What’s up with the verse Meth?’ I said, ‘I’m still writing.’ So yeah, I lost interest towards the end of the verse, but it still came out good.

“Prodigy was one of my favorite rappers at that time. When P was on it, he was on it. That fucking first Mobb Deep album—Jesus! Even the shits after that, and the shits that weren’t on the album that they did like ‘L.A., L.A.’ and all that. P was just official.

“If a nigga said some sideways shit about P, it was like, ‘Aw shit. He done said some sideways shit about P? You know that nigga’s about to go in.’ It was one of those moments. So I loved to get the chance to rock with them. I used to get around niggas and not feel comfortable but I always felt comfortable around niggas like P and Big Noyd.

“I always felt like niggas like that were from the same grain I’m from. They weren’t flashy, we weren’t there to impress nobody. I ain’t got to put on a front and act like I’m bigger than everybody in this bitch, like, ‘Look at my jewelery and my cars, nigga.’

“It was like that same feeling I got on Ghost’s birthday, when all we did was rhyme all fucking night, in a crowd of people that had love for us.”

Foxy Brown f/ Method Man “Ill Na Na” (1996)

Producer: Charly Charles

Album: Ill Na Na

Label: Def Jam/Violator

Method Man: “When they approached me with it and shit, I hadn’t met Foxy yet. I remember [Foxy’s brother] Gavin was playing that ‘I Shot Ya’ verse and I was like, ‘Wow. She sounds just like Rae.’ I was like, ‘Her voice is raw as fuck.’

“When she got signed to Def Jam, love is love, they wanted me to come in and do a verse for her. I was like, ‘Okay, give me 25.’ That’s how much I got for the Biggie verse, $2,500. I didn’t know how to price my shit back then. I came in and did the hook. I said that ‘Dollar Dollar’ shit because I knew everyone would remember that shit from ‘C.R.E.A.M.’

“I got the check and I was like, ‘Oh shit. 25 Gs?’ I went and got a Rolex. For a while I was running around telling niggas, ‘Yeah, Foxy bought me this Rolex.’ I had to stop that shit. People actually thought she went and bought me a fucking Rolex and shit. But it wasn’t a mistake. I look back in hindsight and I earned every penny of that shit. [Laughs] I was selling myself short.”

Wu-Tang Clan “Triumph” (1997)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Wu-Tang Forver

Label: Loud/RCA/BMG

Method Man: “It was a lot of energy in the room when we did ‘Triumph.’ We did it at Ray Parker Jr.’s studio. I remember we had two studios in there, so some dudes would be over here doing this and some dudes would be over there doing that. But in the beginning, we were all in one studio doing ‘Triumph.’

“Deck went first, killed it. I went in and did my verse. It was the same order [as recording ‘Protect Ya Neck’]. Nobody was moved around. As far as Ol’ Dirty goes, once we hit Cali you couldn’t find that nigga. When we got him in the studio, we tried to throw him in as much shit as we could.

“Dirty, he was the motherfucking star. He was able to handle all the cameras and all that, he was ready for all that shit. Not saying that I wasn’t, I enjoyed what I did. I wasn’t walking around uncomfortable all the time.

“‘Triumph’ was like, all the pressure of the name being bigger than the group and everybody smelling themselves and thinking they were bigger than they really was. You can hear all that on ‘Triumph.’ By the middle of the album, focus was being lost.

“I’m speaking for myself, not my crew. My focus was lost by the middle of the album and my heart just wasn’t in it like it used to be. I don’t regret anything that I did, but I wish I would’ve been a little more focused on the shit that really mattered at that point in time.

“I started feeling uncomfortable around the cameras. I started feeling uncomfortable around crowds and in party atmospheres. I just didn’t like it. You can get a moment of clarity when you’re at your highest point—when you’re fucked up and you high and something hits you like an epiphany. My epiphany was seeing all these motherfuckers doing the same thing every night in every club and in every video.

“It became like, ‘What the fuck is this frivolous bullshit?’ It’s like going in the club and knowing what somebody answer is gonna be when you say, ‘What’s up my G?—‘Everything is all good’ or ‘It ain’t nothing to a playa.’ I did not want to be a part of that shit no more.

“All I was talking about was smoke this, party that, and all this shit. Is that really what this shit is about? I’m not really about that shit. I want to do something different. I don’t want to conform and be the same like the rest of these motherfuckers.

“It started looking that way to me. I think I was the first one to stop wearing throwbacks. I’m not giving up the du-rag though because I was the first nigga to bring them back. Fuck that! I’m serious.

“It always felt to me like everybody was fronting and acting bigger than what they actually were. For me to be around them, it looked like I was doing the same thing. Let’s say you sitting in a room and you know you washed your ass today. Picture you sitting there and a bunch of funky niggas is in there with you. Now a chick walks in. When she walks in, all she see is a bunch of funky niggas.

“Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I did. That’s why when I was doing [movies and TV], I was cool. But when it came to extra stuff—red carpet, award shows, and things like that. That’s when I was like, ‘Whoa. I have to take a step back.’

“When we first came in, I used to look forward to going to the Jack The Rapper’s [Convention] and shit like that so I could see all these niggas face-to-face and see if it was really real. All of them was real cool, but then it got to the point where I started feeling uncomfortable because now I’m that nigga. They looking at me the way I used to look at them. So now I’m uncomfortable because I don’t like being under the microscope.

“I don’t even like eating in restaurants in front of people that know me. If nobody knows me in the restaurant and I don’t see anyone staring, then I can eat. If I think someone knows me, then I can’t do it. It’s something funny about that. I don’t like the attention.

“It’s cool to sell the records and all that shit, but I don’t like being on display. Another thing that used to piss me off is when I used to be around Russell Simmons or Kevin Liles and they used to refer to us as ‘their artists.’ I hated that shit.

“But as the career progressed on, the way we was coming into the game and looking at niggas a certain way, now other niggas is coming in the game looking at us a certain way. I’m not comfortable with that. Only real niggas will see shit in that perspective because they came from a real nigga perspective when they stepped in the door.

“That’s why they say real recognize real because a nigga will see it out the corner of his eye, like, ‘Yeah, this nigga sizing me up and shit. I remember I used to do that shit.’ I’m not comfortable with that. I’m a little quick on the trigger, and I’m not talking about guns—I’m talking about these hands man.

“God forbid I have to put my hands on anybody because then it’s lawsuits and who knows. I can get hurt and they can get hurt. I just don’t like resorting to that shit right there. But feeling uncomfortable makes you resort to shit like that.

“I don’t go to any of the parties. I just stay in my room and meditate and write instead of hanging out at the parties. To this day—Redman will tell you, he goes to the afterparties—I’ll never go to after parties unless I’m being paid. If you see me in that afterparty, a nigga paid me! I wanted [the attention] in the beginning, but not in the sense of ‘everybody’s watching’.”

Wu-Tang Clan “Reunited” (1997)

Producer: The RZA

Album: Wu-Tang Forever

Label: Loud/RCA/BMG

Method Man: “Originally, it was just RZA and GZA on there. I wanted to get on it, but [RZA] thought it was a good record the way it was. That’s why I got the last verse on there. I don’t think they wanted me on that record. I think that was supposed to be some RZA and GZA shit, taking it back to when they first started out.

“They were gonna do like eight and eight for the last verse, but big-head Meth was in the studio, so I had to get on it. [Ms. Roxy went in on the outro of the song because she] playing that shit live. RZA was getting his money’s worth out of her. Plus, she was in there killing that shit.

“When I came in, I came in with a group. If anybody been like a team player, it’s been me. Everything that came out my mouth is, ‘Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang.’ Some of the shit the press was saying was just harsh. So for all the focus to go off the whole group and all on one got to the point where when I got around my own niggas and I didn’t feel comfortable.

“It’s hard when you’re doing so much and they’re not doing as much. You come back around them and try to tell them, ‘I was doing this and I was doing that’ and it seems like no one is interested. Then you gotta fall back and do the knowledge like, ‘Maybe I should shut the fuck up and not say anything else about what I been doing because nobody’s as happy about it as I am.’

“Not saying these dudes were jealous but maybe they just weren’t as into it. That’s when you get albums like Tical 0: The Prequelwhere it’s like I wanna try something different. But I don’t really have the time to deal with the issues that I have because I have deadlines and shit. Now I’m in there jotting by the middle of the album and all that shit reflects on you as time goes by.

“That’s the only reason why a motherfucker will even come out his face to even say he’s better than me. They look at your track record and they sizing you up every time you open your mouth. Back in the day, niggas was scared of my team and they was scared of me on that motherfucking mic.

“You can’t blame a motherfucker for saying or thinking he better than you, MCs are supposed to think that. But in the same breath, it’s like you being who you are and thinking, ‘Wait a minute. That shit wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even 3 years ago. What am I doing? What’s going on?’

“Then you start questioning yourself and now you uncomfortable in your own motherfucking skin. [It happened to me] for a minute. I was going through it. I had a lot of issues going on. Sometimes being in the studio and writing about it ain’t the best therapy.

Wu-Tang Clan “Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours” (1997)

Producer: 4th Disciple

Album: Wu-Tang Forever

Label: Loud/RCA/BMG

Method Man: “That’s a Park Hill song right there. That was a given. That was one of those songs right before the lethargic attitude starting coming in. I had a few gems on [Wu-Tang Forever], but I started [losing interest] towards the middle of the album.

“That verse Ghost got [on ‘Impossible’] like, ‘Call an ambulance/Jamie been shot!’—why couldn’t I write some shit like that? He not the only one. There were a few brothers on there that were getting it [on that album]. I listen to it in hindsight, knowing where I was at mentally. I’m always so hard on myself, I’m thinking, ‘Damn, I can tell that I’m not interested as I wanted to be when doing that Wu project.’

“I would come in, lay a verse, and break out, whereas before I would come in, lay a verse, be like, ‘Yo, I got an idea for a hook.’ Somebody else would be like, ‘I got an idea for a hook. Let’s combine our shit and get it popping.’ It wasn’t like that this time. It was the lifestyle.

“I stopped going to the block as much as I used to. I was more in Cali and Miami doing all that shit the big dudes do. It was fun—I ain’t gonna lie. In the beginning, we had energy, we was fired up, we was in L.A. for the first week and doing it big. Shit was cool. Then after a while, I lost focus. It was too much of this, too much of that.

“Since we were recording in L.A., soon as you step out your door you on camera. It got to a point where I wasn’t comfortable abound everybody, even so-called stars and shit like that.

“[The first time I felt uncomfortable] I was at the Soul Train Awards pre-party at the House Of Blues. I was fucked up off weed and mushrooms. But I don’t take mushrooms no more. I caught myself sitting in a corner and in the back of my head I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. That fucking 2Pac and Biggie beef is going on right now. Niggas is probably looking at me like, ‘What that nigga doing in the corner?’

“Now I’m moving around and I’m looking at people and starting to notice shit, because the [East Coast/West Coast] shit never popped in my fucking head. There was never any East Coast/West Coast shit, we was real niggas and that was a ‘Pac and Biggie thing. But then it hit me like, ‘There’s motherfuckers in there that think it’s a East Coast/West Coast thing. Let me stand my ass up.’

“So I’m standing up and I’m looking around but I’m not partying anymore. I’m too observant of everything. I’m looking at niggas and I’m seeing the same pattern of just shit—bodyguards, niggas flexing for chicks, chicks flexing for niggas, and bottle popping. I’m looking at this shit like, ‘Everybody in this bitch right now is fronting.’

“Then this one [rapper] came through. I’m not gonna say his name because it’s not good and shit. He don’t really speak to me at social gatherings but he felt like he should speak to me that day. Who the fuck knows, maybe it’s because he felt uncomfortable being on the West Coast and shit.

“He spoke to me this day with like six fucking bodyguards around. [That was] fucking uncomfortable. I’m standing next to this nigga and all these fucking people looking and shit. I can feel the eyeballs, but I don’t think he feels shit. I’m like, ‘Man, this ain’t my fucking scene right here.’

“Then at the end of the night, 2Pac taps me on the shoulder. This is my first time meeting the guy and remember, I’m fucked up. I turn around and he’s talking to me. All I keep hearing him say is, ‘If there’s anybody we would fuck with on the East Coast it’s Wu-Tang.’ But then a camera light came on. Then, all the lights in the club came on because it was time to go.

“So now I’m standing there and this nigga is hot! He one of the hottest niggas in the game and I’m standing right next to him. Uncomfortable right there. But I love this nigga. He said what he said, and I was like, ‘Love is love. It is what is is Pac’ and I turned around and walked the fuck away. I ain’t even say peace to Suge.

“I just wanted to get out of that area with all those cameras and people watching. It had nothing to do with Pac. It was just...I had that epiphany that night. Now everything was bothering me. So that was the day I took the blue pill [like in The Matrix] and I ain’t been the same since.”

LL Cool J f/ Canibus, DMX, Method Man & Redman “4,3,2,1” (1997)

Producer: Erick Sermon

Album: Phenomenon

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: “LL called through to get on the record. No matter what people have to say, if they have something bad to say about that man, that’s on them, because that nigga always showed me love. He was always cool with me. He always had a word of advice for me, even if I didn’t ask for it. I mean that in a respectful sense.

“When we did that record, it was just me, him, and Doc at first. Then I heard what everybody was bumping around the office was DMX, and I was like, ‘Who the fuck is DMX?’ I remember, we got to the video shoot and I still hadn’t heard the record with everybody’s verses on there and shit. I remember seeing DMX with a hat on, vest on, and shit. Me and Doc went to go smoke during one of the takes and I remember hollering at him.

“He was sitting there whispering and he went through his verse. I remember hearing the verse and thinking, ‘Wow. This nigga’s ridiculous. This nigga’s crazy.’ He was mad cool though, mad laid back. I was like, ‘Yo, you smoke?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘We going over here to smoke and shit.’ So he’s rolling up his shit, we’re rolling up our shit, we’re going to smoke it together and kick it.

“You know X doesn’t fuck with a lot of niggas and shit, but he fucks with us. It was based off of that day right there. But he felt a certain way about LL, but in order to get that story you’ve got to ask him. I don’t know. They just don’t seem comfortable around each other.

“Long story short, we sat there and did the video, and I’m listening to the radio and shit and it’s on there. I hear X’s verse or whatever, but then I hear Canibus. I’m like, ‘Wait. He wasn’t on the record, but he’s killing it too. Damn.’ I was kind of mad because I could have done that on my verse if that was the point. I would have went back in and done my shit over.

“LL relaid his verse. That wasn’t the verse he laid on there originally that I remember. Next thing I know, everybody’s on there different. I’m like, ‘What the fuck? What’s going on and shit? Damn, Def Jam. What the fuck is y’all doing up there? Can I know something? Can I get a fucking phone call?’

“When we shot the video it was four motherfuckers. When I saw the video, I saw that version, and then I saw another one that had Master P and Canibus in that motherfucker! What the fuck?

“You know, ‘4,3,2,1’ is what it is, but when we perform the shit you get LL, Method Man, and Redman, or you get DMX, Method Man, and Redman. We have not been all on stage at once doing that record.”

Texas f/ Method Man & RZA “Say What You Want (All Day, Every Day)” (1998)

Producer: Texas, Boilerhouse Boys, RZA

Album: None

Label: Mercury

Method Man: “RZA asked me to come in. He would ask me to come in and do a song all the time. That’s how I did the Super Cat shit and a lot of shits like that. I was always in RZA’s back pocket. He asked me to come in, threw it on, and was like, ‘Yo, just put some verses on here and shit.’ So I had this little skeleton verse I wrote. I was like, ‘Fuck it. I’m going to put this little skeleton verse on there and see if that rocks.’ It worked.

“I got to perform it at their version of the Grammys. I never got to perform at the Grammys in my own country, but I got to perform their version of it. I remember watching it on ABC. I did alright. I had my Wu colors on, I was good.

““Then when my album came up, I was in the studio working on Judgement Day and me and 4th were working on the beat. I was putting all the pieces together, and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to do the verse I did on that Texas shit. Nobody’s going to hear it.’ At that point in time, it didn’t hit. I hadn’t heard shit.

“So I already did the record, and went and did ‘Judgement Day.’ Next thing I know, I’m getting calls to go overseas and perform the record. It was a big hit, but I already had my record done. I had to leave it there.

“That whole time, in the back of my head, I was thinking Jungle Brothers. They had a song called ‘Beyond This World.’ That fucking record was ridiculous. So I was trying to imitate that style a little bit. I’ve still got a lot of love for that record. That had white boys wigging out off that shit.”

Cappadonna f/ Method Man “Milk The Cow” (1998)

Producer: True Master

Album: The Pillage

Label: Razor Sharp

Method Man: “Cap really taught me how to flow and rhyme. The first rhyme I wrote, me and Raekwon wrote, called ‘I’m On A Mission,’ and that was actually just to show Cap so I could get down with their crew the Get Busy Crew. Cap put me down. [Laughs.]

“I was a little wack back then. I was still using my real name, Cliff. I was biting LL all day. Me and Cap got mad cool. I used to hang around him every day. Niggas used to do their routines in the staircase, just killing it. Listening to them is what made my pen sharper.

“Chef would only write every now and then, so you would get the same rhyme out of Chef for like three months. It was always hot the way he did it because he had this cadence and his voice was always fly. Come to find out, the rhymes he was saying were Cappa’s. [Laughs.] So when Cap came around I got the originals.

“I was like, ‘This nigga’s fucking incredible.’ I started to pattern my shit behind his shit, because he had no rules. Back then wasn’t the same way he rhymes now, back then there was more of a method to the madness. It was all over the place but you got the gist of it and he would hit you with that line that would make you say, ‘Oh my God. Did he just fucking say that shit?’

“I remember it was every fourth line that had to hit. It wasn’t every line that had to hit. It was every fourth line, so the nigga that was beatboxing for you would pause. It was a lot of weird shit.

“One thing about Cappa though, that motherfucker can dress his ass off. When he says ‘Papi wardrobe king,’ he’s not lying.

Limp Bizkit f/ Method Man “N 2 Gether Now” (1999)

Producer: Limp Bizkit, DJ Premier

Album: Significant Other

Label: Interscope

Method Man: “I was on MTV’s New Years Rockin’ Eve and Limp Bizkit’s manager was there. We started kicking it and he was like, ‘Fred Durst is a big Wu-Tang fan. Would you be open to doing a song with them?’ I don’t even think Fred knew about it at the time, but his manager was politicking, getting it popping. I commend him for that too, because he stepped up and stepped outside of the box and took the initiative.

“I got in contact with these dudes and chopped it up. Fred had a music background, he loves hip-hop, he loves rock-n-roll, he loves a lot of music. But he knew his hip-hop. I go in and do the record. We thought it would just be maybe a filler on their album, but by the time it was done, I was like, ‘Whoa. This might be a heater.’

“Time passes and the shit was charting. I get a call from Fred asking if I wanted to do a video for the song. I’m like, ‘Sure. I’ll do a video for the song. I’m hearing this shit everywhere.’ It was on black radio too. I’m like, ‘Fuck it. Let’s go.’ We shoot the video and shit and it’s on TRL.

“Next thing you know, I’m going out on tour with Limp Bizkit. That set up me and Redman’s Blackout Tour after that. So it was a beautiful thing. I loved the fact that they brought me in and I did that because that was something that nobody in my crew has done. Plus, I always did like ‘Nookie.’

“There was a couple things I didn’t agree with doing in the video, but I did them anyway out of love for Fred Durst. I’m a loyal friend to have. Don’t step on my toes, and I’ll be loyal.”

Method Man & Redman “Da Rockwilder” (1999)

Producer: Rockwilder

Album: Blackout!

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: “Red didn’t like the beat, that’s why the record’s so short. When I first heard it, I was like, ‘Fuck that!’ Wrote my verse right there and spit on it and I was like, ‘You know what? We gon’ call this shit ‘Rockwilder’ after you, my nigga.’ That’s how much I love this beat. For Rock, that’s what spring-boarded his shit into the ‘Bootyliciouses’ and ‘Do It Again’ with Jay-Z and all them niggas because everybody was coming for that beat.

“Everybody was coming for that beat and it felt good. Missy came with Timbaland and she was the first one to fuck with [him]. It was great for me to come out and be the first nigga to fuck with a nigga that everybody wanted to fuck with after. It’s like having that video girl first, then, everybody use her after that because of yo shit. It felt really good.

”I’ve had hit records, but I’ve never really had the chance to enjoy a hit record. At that point in time, I was jaded and I been in the game for a while. Me and Red were hot, he just came off a platinum joint, I just came off a double platinum joint. We good, we coming together, we were expecting big things and this record dropped.

“When we first started performing the record at shows, we used to have to do it twice, sometimes three times. If we came to perform at somebody else’s shit and that record came on, we shut it down!”

Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon, Method Man, & Joi Starr “Yolanda’s House” (2007)

Producer: Ant-Live

Album: The Big Doe Rehab

Label: Def Jam

Method Man: “Ghost is a smart motherfucker. When he sent it to me, the only message was, ‘Continue this verse from where I left off.’ He said, ‘Yo, Starks, be quiet’ and I was thinking, ‘What would I say after that, if I’m jumping up out some coochie?’ I said, ‘Let me put my draws on, nigga,’ and after that, everything just started to fall into place.

“When I first started rhyming, I used to write nothing but stories that used to be so extravagant. Then my man Love God—he was just at me while I was saying my rhymes—and he was like, ‘Nigga, you ain’t got none of that shit you’re talking about.’ He was right. That ended my story career right there.

“Then I just started writing shit that was fathomable, shit that I had access to. It wasn’t illusions of grandeur. I thank him a lot for that, because that’s all I ask from an emcee. If you ain’t got that shit, don’t sit here and throw it in my face like you’re a have when you’re really a have-not.

“I like that verse. That was just me paying attention to the detail of his verse and coordinating some of what Ghost was already talking about in his verse and making it cohesive. It sounds like it wasn’t just thrown together. It sounds like a common thing between two brothers, but we weren’t even in the studio at the same time.

“That’s just the professionalism amongst brothers being around each other so much that they know what to expect from each other. Ghost left it in my hands. It’s like he left his kid in my hands knowing that I was going to take care of it like it was one of my own.”

Raekwon f/ Inspectah Deck, GZA, Method Man & Ghostface Killah “House Of Flying Daggers” (2009)

Producer: J. DIlla

Album: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2

Label: Ice H20/EMI

Method Man: “We were on the road. This was when Chef and Ghost were approaching me about the Wu-Massacre album. It wasn’t even Wu-Massacre then. Rae just said, ‘Me, you, and Ghost should do an album together.’ My first words were, ‘Well, what’s everybody else going to think?’ I forgot what the answer was.

“Long story short, while I was on the road Chef needed the record done. I remember doing it in a hotel room. I sent it to Chef and he said it was fire. So I left it there. His first verse is different than the original one he had on there, and what I was doing was what he did on his first verse originally.

“I was trying to make it sound like a record so I copied the flow and everything that Rae did in his original verse. Then he changed his verse. [Laughs.] You know, usually they say when a nigga change his verse, he’s feeling like, ‘Nah, this nigga ain’t going to fucking get me on my own shit.’”

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