4:21... The Day After

Artist: Method ManTitle: 4:21... The Day AfterRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jamiyl "J Boogie" Samuels

When Wu-Tang Clan was on top of the rap world, Method Man could do no wrong. Since he stole the show with his self-title solo on Enter The Wu-Tang, Mef had consistently been one of Hip-Hop's most recognizable personalities. Mef's star power was so high from his presence on classic Wu hooks and solo albums, that anticipation hit a fever pitch when he released the first two installments of his Tical albums. Like any artist trying to show their versatility, Johnny Blaze tried his hand at movies and his own sitcom with fellow blunt brother Redman. When he dropped his highly anticipated Tical 0: The Prequel, it was met with lukewarm reviews. Critics slammed the album and murmurs began that Hot Nicks had lost his luster. Already eclipsed, at this point, as the most charismatic member of the Wu by Ghostface Killah, also on Def Jam, and not getting the necessary promotion by the label, Johnny Dangerous had to prove that he was not destined for VH1's "The Surreal Life". 4:21... The Day After (Def Jam) is Mr. Tical's attempt to jog the memory of his naysayers.

From the "Intro", it's clear Mef has a boulder on his shoulder the size of Colorado's capital: "Stop look and listen guess who coming up/And y'all was dumb enough to think that Method's number's up/Pockets so phat they need a tummy tuck." The heartfelt, Erick Sermon produced "Say", with a chill-inducing vocal sample from Lauryn Hill, reveals the extent of Mef's pain at being slept on by critics, detached journalists, and gossiping on-air personalities. The sprawling keys of "Is It Me" is a nice sonic landscape for Mef to champion the cause for the return of real Hip-Hop music. Mef is in excellent form, showing signs of the meaningful, witty lyricist of his early 90's heyday. The majority of the production is a throwback to the slow pounding, raw feel of 1994's Tical. In a possible nod to "Meth vs. Chef" from his debut, Mef teams up with Raekwon and RZA on "Presidential MC", the only track that utilizes the signature Kung-Fu samples that pepper Wu-Tang heaters. ODB makes a stellar posthumous appearance on the hybrid "Dirty Mef" that brings back the days when the duo were highly regarded as the two best members of the Wu.

"The Glide" featuring Raekwon and LA the Darkman and "Everything" with Inspectah Deck and Streetlife show the Clan still have amazing chemistry. The standout track, Isaac Hayes swapping "Walk On" has the aforementioned Funk Doc (where's his album?) joining his fellow Blackout partner in a vintage back and forth exchange over classic boom-bap percussion and rock guitar.

Though Mef keeps the album relatively short and sweet, with 20 tracks clocking in at a litle over an hour, some of the production gets a little too simplistic. "4:20", ironically the longest track on the CD, drags along at a snail's pace. Mef falters with uncharacteristically lame lyrics on the Mr. Porter produced "Let's Ride" with Ginuwine along as the requisite crooner. Too many songs of Mef harping on his critics make him sound like a bitter backpacker. 4:21... The Day After makes the case for Mef that digging his grave was a premature move, but he needs to concentrate on continuing to make good music to ensure a better tomorrow.