*** 1/2 METHOD MAN
"Tical 2000: Judgment Day"
Although the New York rapper's 1994 debut, "Tical," sold more than 1.3 million copies, the album catered exclusively to underground hip-hop devotees. It took the remix of "All I Need," which was produced by Sean "Puffy" Combs and featured vocals from Mary J. Blige, to thrust the most celebrated member of the Wu-Tang Clan into pop music stardom. Shunning the opportunity to exploit his new fan base, Method Man keeps his musical mission consistent on his second solo album. Producers such as the RZA, Erick Sermon and Havoc provide Method Man with sparse, eerie soundscapes that contrast sharply with the friendly, sample-heavy sounds dominating urban radio.
Backed with this top-notch production, Method Man showcases his strongest assets: a distinctive gravelly voice and a knack for coining catch phrases. Using a balanced mix of pop culture references and cleverly employed cliches, he elicits fear, humor and awe--all at once. As in his other work, most of the rhymes here are dedicated to Method Man's microphone mastery. When he raps about women, as on the explicit "Sweet Love," he blends a hard-core stance with romantic notions like no other rapper.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.