Article by Andrés Alvarado
It’s been said that rap is a young man’s game. Maybe so, maybe not. Nonetheless, if it is, Wu-Tang Clan alumnus, Method Man, has yet to receive the memo. On his new adventure — and second chapter in the Meth Lab series — Mr. Johnny Blaze is boomeranging back to that good old ’90s hip-hop formulation. The record plays deep at 22 tracks, over roughly 57 minutes. Meth Lab 2: The Lithium revolves around the tall tales of rapper turned drug kingpin Method Mad and his wacky exploits of braggadocious mischief and mayhem. Long story short, The Lithium does not present us with mind-blowing innovation or creativity, but it does take us back to the era of razor-sharp rap skills and toned-down tight beats, and, of course, all tied to the unmistakable butter-slippery flow of the Clan’s most charismatic emcee, Method Man.
Method Man’s sixth solo go-round musically kicks off with Kill Different and its head-bobbing bravado. In company of Raekwon the Chef and affiliate Hanz On, the opening track rumbles hard and presents Method Man & company delivering artistic badassery in a quintessential New York-style roughneck fluidity.
Switching gears, Method Man employs Snoop Dogg and iNTeLL on a West Coast-esque melodic throwdown with Eastside. A single that draws a wickedly slick path for sick bars to glide right off the tongue; additionally, rips-and-rhymes on the coastal harmonious state within the game. A far cry from those feuds of the nineties.
Clever wordplay banger, Wild Cats, stands out handsomely, too. In collaboration with longtime pals, Redman, Streetlife, and Hanz On, Method Man & co. do what they do best: churn-out a neck-snapping, party-riddled, recklessly dope anthem with plenty of moxie.
Rounding out the stronger core to The Lithium, we find the ominously forceful Grand Prix, a surprising trap indulgence with Killing the Game, Two More Mins on the strength of being the only Method Man solo track, and the grimiest, most Wu-oriented single, Ronin’s. Additionally, Met Lab 2 is brimmed of nineties references throughout; and, worth mentioning, is the hilarious remake of the “torture” skit — made famous on Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man classic. Nonetheless, the biggest takeaway from The Lithium is probably Method Man’s versatility. An emcee that can adapt to any style of beat — and spit bars without sounding awkward or choppy is a hard find. In that sense, Method Man is at the top of his game.
The record’s pits come courtesy of the immense number of collaborations in play. Quite frankly, at times, one wonders if this is a Method Man album, or simply an affiliates showcase. Moreover, as fantastic and gifted as Johnny Blaze is, there does not seem to be growth to his modus operandi. He is magnetic, he is incredibly liked, and he is well respected, but his methodology is woefully stagnant for a man that can use his fame to push eye-opening agendas. When Method Man talks, people listen. The problem is his message is not relatable — or simply not inspiring.
All said and done, Meth Lab 2: The Lithium is a fine listen, top to bottom, if what you are looking for is catchy earworm hip-hop beats, and a not-so-serious theme. The Ticallion Stallion still packs plenty of heat in his game; despite the LP’s dips. His rap-flux is unquestionable and his bars invoke various reactions. The Meth Lab 2: The Lithium is far from Method Man’s finest album; however, most fans will dig the offering. After all, Method Man, too, is for the children.
Album Score: 7/10 — Key Tracks: Wild Cats, Eastside, Kill Different, Ronin’s, Two More Mins, and Killing the Game.