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METHOD MAN, Tical 0: The Prequel, Def Jam
So this is The Prequel? Method Man's latest features more guest appearances than ever, and names like Ludacris and Snoop Dogg probably couldn't -- or wouldn't -- get down with Meth before Wu-Tang or Tical hit. It's like having an established star like Samuel L. Jackson in your "Star Wars" prequel. Next thing you know, C-3PO was built by Darth Vader. That's how it feels when you get Redman on a track "before" "How High." It just doesn't add up. OK, concept aside, this album is decidely more 2004 than 1994. Except for track 4, which puts Meth together with Busta Rhymes as if Leaders of the New School and Wu just happened to be sharing a New York studio and decided to collaborate on a track. Another entirely possible retro reference is Streetlife's A.C. and O.J. rhyme that arrives 10 years late (and 10 years after Ice Cube did it better on "Natural Born Killaz"). Puffy provides "Say What" featuring Missy Elliott with some nice Caribbean rhythms, but sadly, there's still no sign of Rachel Stuart. But not all is lost. Rockwilder adds his touch to "Act Right," the RZA-produced "The Turn" featuring Raekwon takes the album to the grimy depths expected, and "Aftermath" featuring Ghostface is strictly Wu. The recommended listening order for Method Man albums still starts with the original Tical, but this is still worthy of a spin.
Click here to listen to samples or buy this album.

-- West Coast

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