How Classic Is Method Man's Tical Album? | 1994 Reviews
CLASSIC RATING: 4 OUT OF 6
Producers: RZA, 4th Disciple
Method Man was the first Clan member to drop a solo project and was an obvious first choice considering his amazing live performances, dynamic rhymes, charisma, and smooth, deep voice making him the group's most visible and commercially viable member (atleast on paper). Method Man released 'Tical' on November 15th, 1994, and it was produced entirely by RZA with the help of 4th Disciple on two tracks.
The album begins with the title track 'Tical' and it starts off with a serene midi flute which is followed by an explosion signifying the start of this apocalyptic sounding record. After mixing in a few beats (including a future Raekwon beat) and kung fu movie dialogue, the main beat comes in and it's a sluggish and droning beat that is quite murky and not at all commercial which shows that RZA's approach with Method Man was never an attempt at making him a mainstream, sex symbol type of artist. No, this is decidedly underground and explicit. Musically the title track 'Tical' avoids becoming repetitive by adding a chorus section which features a more laid back beat while Meth does the marijuana-related chorus. On the verses, he flows really well and the lyrics are on point although the entire song is quite chaotic structure wise, which in this case is a good thing making it a more interesting listen. The next track is 'Biscuits' which features a smoother sound although it's not commercial in any sense of the word. A hardcore song with a subdued sound by RZA.
The best song on the album is the third track titled 'Bring Da Pain' and it was also the most successful single off Tical. The beat, produced by RZA, just flows like a river of toxic sewage through the underworld (like the goo in the Ghostbusters II movie). The sound is sinister yet danceable and catchy with lyrics that are straight hardcore battle lyrics interspersed with a Dancehall style chorus which has the competitive zeal of an MMA match, with Method Man lyrically and metaphorically destroying his opponents with his fierce attitude and combative spirit. The track also features a part II of such, of the 'Torture Skit' from Wu-Tang's debut album. And with adlibs like this, it's hard to believe this was a song meant for radio!
I'll fucking...I'll fucking cut your kneecaps off and make you kneel in some staircase piss!
I'll fucking...I'll fucking cut your eyelids off and feed you nothing but sleeping pills!!
The next track, 'All I Need', is not the version(s) that was released as a single, but a simplified, straight gutter, love song without any R&B vocals. The track features a simple keyboard melody coupled with electronic sounding stabs and a bass-heavy beat. Not a commercially viable song, even by Tical's standards, but nonetheless a good blueprint for the version that features Mary J. Blige, which was named the Razor Sharp mix, and wasn't released until 1995. That version was also produced by RZA but would feature a much more refined structure, although being totally uncommercial still, it was nonetheless more of a smooth listen. Puff Daddy would also remix 'All I Need' but his version would be less successful than RZA's version. The next track, 'What The Blood Clot', is a hardcore piano track with an underground sound with verses and no chorus, just an outro with some shout outs.
During this time period of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA was the sole provider of beats for all of its members, so he would have them battle over the rights to record over them. This competitive approach was a form of quality control and 'Meth vs. Chef' was a product of this process. Another interesting fact is that 'Meth vs. Chef' was recorded in 1993 before RZA's 36 Chambers Studios was flooded, reportedly destroying fifteen beats, so RZA had to hastily recreate and mix many of the beats for Tical. Enough factoids, let's get back to the album with 'Sub Crazy' which is a bass-driven track that features the sound of a dropping bomb, as well as some typical RZA sounds that are typical for RZA but a-typical generally in hip-hop. The song is straightforward and bangs quite hard with its simplicity.
Next, we have another single, the hyper 'Release Yo' Delf', which features vocals from Wu-Tang affiliated female R&B singer Blue Raspberry, who sings an interpolation of Gloria Gaynor's disco hit, 'I Will Survive'. Musically it features a triumphant horn part paired with a bassline that pulsates with adrenaline. Vocally Meth shines with his high-energy rapping that feels like a live concert that is totally out of control. In fact, Meth's whole style on this album seems to be aimed towards live performances with nearly every song containing choruses that have an 'improvisational' adlibbing style which would likely go over well with a live audience. 'P.L.O. Style' was the B-Side of 'Bring Da Pain' but is much less dynamic although it does have a nice little groove to it and features some interesting sounding samples which are obscure and unusual but have sort of an 80's sounding vibe nonetheless.
Up next we have a bongo infused track titled 'I Get My Thang In Action'. Underneath the bongos, we have a quirky little melody that is barely audible as well as some long and subdued chords that are more in the forefront. Drum wise this is an interesting track with the bongos and a drum corps style snare drum. It's also the most laid-back track on the album. The next track 'Mr. Sandman' is not laid back at all and begins with the sound of killer bees attacking a human as he screams in agony while a woman sings a serene vocal line over the top of some funky organ playing. The combination is a great example of RZA genius and showcases his highly original and creative style. Lyrically it's the most dynamic track on the album, featuring RZA, Inspectah Deck, Carlton Fisk and The Ticallion Stallion himself. After that Wu-Tang extravaganza, we are treated to a smooth track called 'Stimulation' which features a sample of a soothing and beautiful string part over a funky disco beat showcasing more of RZA's originality while Blue Raspberry provides the soulful chorus. The last track on the album is a less than stellar remix of 1993's 'Method Man' which sounds more like a demo than a real remix, and it was unnecessary and not an improvement on the original and was likely made just to fill space. The 'Tical' album spawned many other remixes that are way better. Including remixes from top-tier producers such as the Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, and Puff Daddy which can all be heard on the deluxe version of 'Tical' on platforms such as Spotify.
In conclusion, it's safe to say that despite being the most energetic live performer in the Clan and the in some ways one of the most creative lyricists he was not the most memorable when he had to carry a track all on his own. He lyrics tend to blend into one unforgettable mish mash and he's better when he can play a supportive role either by providing great chorus like he does in C.R.E.A.M. or as a contributing member with the other Clan members where he can be one and done. Although many of the beats carry some of that rawness from 36 Chambers, they aren't necessarily the best beats from the early Wu-Tang solo albums. This could be down to the basement flood that ruined fifteen of RZA's beats prior to the recording of 'Tical' or it could be that Method Man doesn't carry the beats in a sufficiently interesting way. For example picture Raekwon guesting on Release Yo' Delf and tell me that wouldn't be dope?