METHOD MAN LIFE BIOGRAPHY:
Method Man was born Clifford Smith on April 1, 1971, in Hempsted, Long Island, New York. As a youth he was shuttled between his delinquent father in Long Island, and his mother in Staten Island, New York. In Staten Island - later renamed "Shaolin" by the Clan - was where he met the men who would eventually become the Wu-Tang Clan. Whilst in Staten Island, Meth grew up in the 'Park Hill' projects with his mother and two sisters, one younger, one older. He has said he dropped out of high school in the ninth and eleventh grades, and sold and experimented with drugs. "Reality smacked me in the face early. That's why I don't like to talk about my childhood," Meth told Rolling Stone in late 1998. He then added, "I don't ever want anybody to feel sorry for me because of the way I came up. There are a lot of people who have it a hell of a lot worse than me."
During those years, Smith rapped and hung out with Robert Diggs (Prince Rakeem, aka the RZA) and his cousins Gary Grice (the Genius/GZA), and Russell Jones (Ol' Dirty Bastard). Years later, after Prince Rakeem and the Genius had suffered setbacks in the recording industry in the early '90s, the two gathered up Meth, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and newcomers Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Raekwon to form the Wu-Tang Clan. Method Man was one of the first to sign on. The eight pooled their resources and recorded a single, "Protect Ya Neck/After the Laughter," on Wu-Tang Records in 1992. It sold 15,000 copies, leading to a unique deal with Loud Records, then a fledgling rap imprint for RCA. The label signed the group, while allowing its members to sign separate solo deals. "We have too much talent," Meth later observed. "You can't sign the whole Clan and just give them $300,000. That's worth one brother right there." Meth was heavily featured on the group's classic late-1993 debut 'Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)', even getting his own showcase track with "Method Man," which certainly put him out front in terms of name recognition. The now-classic album spawned several hit singles, including "Protect Ya Neck," "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin to Fuck Wit/Can It Be All So Simple" and "C.R.E.A.M./Da Mystery of Chessboxin'," which found Meth singing the memorable chorus "Cash Rules Everything Around Me/ C.R.E.A.M. get the money/ Dollar dollar bill y'all!"
Thanks to the Wu's innovative contract -- which allowed individual members to sign solo deals with whatever label they chose -- Method Man inked a contract with Def Jam, and in 1994, approximately one year after Enter the Wu-Tang's release, he became the first Wu member to release a solo album with his Tical album. Highly anticipated, the album, despite its dark and grimey sounds, entered the charts at number four and quickly went platinum, while singles like "Bring the Pain" (which just missed the pop Top 40) and "Release Yo' Delf" made him an even bigger name in the hip-hop community. He began making numerous guest appearances on other artists' records and in the summer of 1995, his one-off single with Mary J. Blige, "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By," soared into the pop Top Five, giving Meth his first major mainstream exposure, and was accoladed as the song of the summer. Thanks to his gravelly voice, ultra-cool persona and knack for metaphor-laden rhymes, Method Man quickly became one of the most popular MCs of the mid-'90s. He appeared on a plethora of tracks by other artists, including those of The Notorious B.I.G. ("The What"), Shaquille O'Neal ("No Hook"), and Boyz II Men ("Vibin'"), and 2pac on the album 'All Eyez On Me'. In August of 1995, he teamed up with fellow Def Jam artist Redman for "How High," a surprise hit that dented the Billboard Top 20.
Throughout 1995 and '96, Meth continued to appear on solo efforts by Clan members Ol' Dirty Bastard, Raekwon ("Ice Cream"), Genius/GZA ("Shadowboxin'"), and Ghostface Killah. On Raekwon's album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, he assumed the name "Johnny Blaze," a concept that became a catchphrase, the title of a magazine (Blaze), and even a clothing line, much to his chagrin. "I started it and mad heads are using it and ain't payin' homage," the rapper later complained.
All of this activity, coupled with the Wu-Tang Clan's own international fame, led to inflated, unrealistic expectations for the Clan's second album, Wu-Tang Forever. Though more than 600,000 copies of the double-CD were snapped up in its first week alone, its abstract, philosophical themes were met with a mixed response. Method Man, for one, felt the 1997 effort was ahead of its time. "[People] didn't understand what I was talking about," he observed. Nevertheless, Wu-Tang Forever went triple-platinum and earned a Grammy nomination for the Clan.
Following its release, the group attempted to embark on a tour with Rage Against the Machine and Atari Teenage Riot. But after several missed dates, scheduling conflicts, and an alleged altercation with a Loud A&R; representative, the group abandoned the sold-out tour, inviting speculation about the group's behavior in the press and among its fans. Though Method Man later explained to Trace magazine that the promoters were "fronting on the cheddar," the debacle signaled the beginning of a downturn in the Clan's popularity.
;Method Man's star, however, continued to rise, as he made tentative steps into acting with bit parts in 187, The Great White Hype, Copland, and Belly. He also continued to guest on other projects, including LL Cool J's "4,3,2,1," Redman's "Whateva Man," and Jayo Felony's "Whatcha Gonna Do." In November of 1998, Meth finally released the follow-up to his debut album Tical, with Tical 2000: Judgement Day, which debuted at No. 2 and promptly went platinum.
In 1999, Method Man parlayed his growing friendship with Redman into a joint appearance on Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life tour, which set box-office records and grossed $18 million. During the tour, the two wrote a duet LP, America's Most Blunted, later changed to the more consumer-friendly title "Blackout". It was released with much fanfare in late September, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard charts with impressive first-week sales of over 254,000. Ironically, Garth Brooks bested Meth both times — the country superstar's Double Live kept Tical 2000 from the No. 1 spot, while his Garth Brooks In … The Life of Chris Gaines, released the same week as Blackout, came in at No. 2.
Meth continues to bless other artists' records, including Limp Bizkit ("Shut the Fuck Up") and EPMD ("Symphony 2000"). He appeared on the 1999 version of the Family Values tour, and, he appeared in a comic book, The Nine Rings of Wu-Tang before the end of the year.
The Wu returned in late 2000 with the lower-profile "The W". After completing the record, Meth refocused on his acting career; in early 2001, he put in a month's worth of appearances portraying a young gangster on HBO's gritty prison drama "Oz", and teamed up with Redman for the Cheech & Chong-styled stoner comedy "How High", which hit theaters toward the end of the year, around the same time as the fourth Wu-Tang album, "Iron Flag". After numberous delays, the MC released his third solo album, "Tical 0: The Prequel", on May 18, 2004. He allegedly finished off 20 tracks with RZA as the producer, but Def Jam opted to release a version that featured only one of those cuts. The album was again greated with a great response from Clan and Meth fans alike! The album was full of superstar appearances with artists including; Missy Elliott, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg Ghostface, Redman, Busta Rhymes. The album featured the true Method Man style with dark, grimey lyrics and beats, but also has alot more commercial tracks, and singles. The first single the album spawned was "What's Happenin", featuring Busta Rhymes, the single achieved great success and enjoyed lots of video play on TV and radio play, resulting in high sales once more! Method Man's "Tical 0: The Prequel", was in the same position in the BillBoard chart as the last installment of the Tical trilogy did: #2. Its first-week draw of more than 164,000 copies, however, is significantly less than the 410,000 copies 1998's Tical 2000: Judgement Day moved in its opening week. Meth was stopped from going to #1 by Ushers massive album "Confessions". There was trouble even before the album's release when Method apparently complained to the press about excessive interference from Def Jam over the album's beats (Meth supposedly desired more input from Wu-Tang leader RZA). On its release, many fans and critics were taken aback by its strong "mainstream" or "commercial" sound, highlighted by the guest appearances of pop-rap stars of the time Missy Elliot, P. Diddy and Ludacris.
Method Man then teamed up with Redman again to do a TV sitcom, "Method & Red", which debuted on TV on June 16, 2004, with Method Man and Redman actually playING themselves in the show, however after only a short time on the air the show was put on hiatus and never returned. Method Man later complained in the press about Fox's influence on the show's style, claiming that "there's been too much compromise on our side and not enough on their side" and bemoaning the network's decision to add a laugh track.
Method Man released his forth solo album, "4:21... the Day After", on August 29, 2006 (U.S.) through Def Jam Records. Method Man explained the album's title: "The national weed smoking day is 4/20, so I named my album 4/21 the day after. Because after that day, you have this moment of clarity when you’re not high and you see things clearly."
The album received mostly positive feedback, with most critics and fans agreeing this album was the first in a while to live up to Method Man's potential. The album featured a star lineup of producers featuring Havoc, Erick Sermon, Scott Storch, Allah Mathematics, Mr. Porter, and, most importantly to Meth, RZA. This time around, a more focused Method Man went back to his hip-hop roots and both hip hop fans and the media took notice. Despite this being one of Meth's strongest solo efforts to date, the album failed to do well commercially due to it having no single or video, which Method Man has held discontent towards his label, Def Jam, for. However he has been touring strongly all over the world to promote the album, and Meth contributed various reasons for the problems between him and his label, Def Jam. While he puts most of the blame on personal agendas in the Def Jam offices, Meth did take some blame himself, for giving into his record label. As a result of such problems, this is Method Man's first album with no charting singles, and his first not to reach the Billboard 200's top 5.
The first single from "4:21... the Day After", was "Say" featuring Lauryn Hill, finds Method Man addressing critics and fickle fans for disrespecting him and his Wu-Tang brethren. The album features guest appearances from various Wu-Tang Clan members, Fat Joe, Styles P, Lauryn Hill, Redman, and more.
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