Method Man: State of Grace

Method Man’s music, both solo and with Wu-Tang Clan, has garnered him icon status in Hip-Hop, while his acting career introduced him to mainstream audiences.

It may seem like yesterday to some, but Method Man actually appeared in two movies (187 with Samuel L. Jackson and Cop Land with Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro) and an episode of Martin in 1997, the same year that Wu-Tang Forever was released. Since that time the multi-talented rapper has appeared in numerous TV shows - even his own with the short-lived 2004 series Method & Red - and has landed roles in several movies.

Despite insisting that he does not care what people think of him or his career decisions, reacting to critics has never been Method Man’s forté. With more aliases than a religious cult leader on the lam, Johnny Blaze has always been brutally honest about his feelings. While someone with less moxie may be put off by that, true fans continue to appreciate his in-your-face honesty with the media.

Method Man’s latest acting gig has him flexing a unique accent in the new film The Wackness, a current critic’s favorite at the box office. We grabbed a few minutes of his time to discuss his Hollywood career, how life with Def Jam has changed, his new comic book and what comes next as he approaches 20 years in entertainment. In the past few years people have really seen you evolve in Hollywood whether it was on television or in movies. You’ve taken on a lot more roles. Was this a conscious thing for you in the beginning, to really focus on acting, or did it just happen?

Method Man: It just happened. It’s hard for me to watch myself after the scene is said and done and I watch myself on screen. But it just fell in my lap, I did one thing which led to another thing, got a call for another thing and I said, “Why not get an agent and keep going?” You’ve expressed a lot of frustration about the way the series [Method & Red] was promoted. Have you ever looked into doing another television series where you might be a central character?

Method Man: I’m not messing with TV. [laughs] No way, no sitcoms at all. I don’t know, Hollywood doesn’t get it or maybe we don’t, because I got flak from both sides. Black people thought it was misrepresenting Black folks, I wasn’t trying to represent Black folks with that show. Don’t put that burden on me. As far as the network, they just didn’t listen. I thank them for that opportunity though. In your music career you’ve had a huge learning curve going from your group that you gained a lot of notoriety with, to your solo career, where it’s been a bumpy ride. What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Method Man: Don’t read your own press, stay out of trouble and save your money. We interviewed Shakir Stewart recently, and we’ve heard a lot of rumblings from various artists [at Def Jam]. We asked him about whether the company was speaking to artists about why they were unhappy, he assured us that they were [speaking to people]. Have you had a chance to sit down with him yet, or are you looking forward to it?

Method Man: No, I haven’t spoken with Shakir. I don’t know the dude - if you put him in a lineup I couldn’t pick him out. I’m not saying that to be disrespectful, I’m just saying I don’t know the dude. If they’re addressing whatever with artists at Def Jam, I ain’t got a phone call. But if there was an opportunity for a meeting you would have things to discuss…

"I regret this s**t to this day, but in that meeting I’m swallowing my pride and everything, trying to explain to them where I’m at with it right now, and why I’m even saying the things that I’m saying to them."

Method Man: I done sat down and had meetings already. All I can do is do albums, hand them in and do my best to promote my album. I’m not asking for anybody to do nothing for me I can’t do for myself. That’s pretty much it, but no one’s spoken to me. I sat in Def Jam with L.A. [Reid], Steve Bartels, Jay Brown and Jay-Z, and at [that] point in time I was going through so much in my life that I was ready to explode. I regret this s**t to this day, but in that meeting I’m swallowing my pride and everything, trying to explain to them where I’m at with it right now, and why I’m even saying the things that I’m saying to them.

I’ll do you one better. It’s hard when you got a lot of people thinking you said something and you didn’t actually say it, but you got everybody against you thinking you did say so it so it’s like, “F**k you.” So anything you say at that point in time is all [game], there’s nobody you can convince of the truth at that point in time and it’s frustrating. So me sitting there in that office and looking at these dudes faces, knowing that I didn’t do anything f**king wrong. But to sit there and swallow my pride in front of grown a** men to the point where I’m so f**king angry tears is in my eyes, that’s when there’s a problem.

After that meeting, I don’t think anybody reached out to me with the exception of Jay Brown, nobody reached out to me to exactly see what I was going through. I wrote Jay-Z a letter, I don’t know if he still got it, hopefully he burned the s**t, but I wrote him a letter trying to explain exactly where I was coming from and why things were the way that they were as far as I go.

"I was used to Lyor [Cohen] and Kevin [Liles] who spoiled us, having such a hands-on approach, that I got things a little misconstrued myself."

We’re here now, and Def Jam will tell you, “We got a good relationship with Method Man” and I’ll say the same thing, I got a good relationship with Def Jam. But I was used to Lyor [Cohen] and Kevin [Liles] who spoiled us, having such a hands-on approach, that I got things a little misconstrued myself. Instead of being vocal about things, I should have sat back, watched and did the knowledge to how things worked [at the time] instead of trying to force it into my favor. I know that now.

There’s nobody to blame for an album not selling at all. It just didn’t sell. It’s time to just move on to the next thing. I told them dudes in that meeting that day, tears and all, that I started my career in Def Jam and that’s where I wanted to end my career at, and I still mean that s**t. You come from an era in Hip-Hop that was so heavy with street teaming, now the digital age has taken over. Are you doing anything right now to actively transition yourself with your music into the digital age?

"I love music and I’m gonna keep doing it for as long as I possibly can, whether it’s for money or not."

Method Man: No, I just go in the studio and make the records. To me now, it’s to the point where I don’t care if it makes money or not, I’m doing it for me. This is how I used to do it before there was a record deal, I used to sit at my mom’s table, bang on the table, write rhymes and think to myself, “Wait ‘til n***as here this in the staircase.” I wasn’t thinking, “Wait ‘til the world hears this.” So that’s what I’m doing now and I’m gonna always be like that. I love music and I’m gonna keep doing it for as long as I possibly can, whether it’s for money or not. With a career spanning well over a decade, kids still actually respect you. Are there ever times where you’ve felt distanced from the kids with the way that they see [the music scene] now?

Method Man: Yeah a whole hell of a lot, and it’s good you asked that. I can’t wear tight T-shirts or tight jeans. My body ain’t built like that, I’m thin so I can’t wear a lot of that stuff. As far as the dances, I’m too grown to be doing that s**t. Braids in my hair, forget about it, I’m too grown for that. What did Jay say? “I could buy the Bentley but I’m grown enough not to put rims on it.” But I’m still connected with them on a level as far as knowing what gets them going, what they like and what they like to see, I know that type of swagger they like. People like real s**t, they like genuine articles, so as long as I can be me that’s the easiest job in the world. In this movie The Wackness, they put a lot of emphasis on the soundtrack and capturing that era [1994] through Hip-Hop particularly. How did you feel about the way that it was represented in the film?

Method Man: I feel [director Jonathan Levine] did an excellent job, I swear on everything I love. I hadn’t seen the movie until Sundance, and there were times where I was sitting in there watching the movie and some music would come on and my feet would start tapping like, “Yeah he got that off, wow.” So like after five or six songs I’m sitting there waiting and then a Wu-Tang song came on and I’m like, “Aight there we go, nice.” [smiles] You have a comic book coming out too, what exactly inspired you to do that? We know you like comic books…

Method Man: That’s exactly what it is. When the opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. They said, “What do you wanna do?” I said, “I don’t know, I got ideas all over the place” and this guy David Atchison took all of my s**t, put them in a pot and made a nice stew. Then Sanford Greene pieced it together well enough for them to see a great story and make a nice art. As far as transitioning into different forms of merchandising and marketing yourself, have you looked into fashion?Method Man: No. I will never do fashion because as soon as your clothing line goes down, so do you. Are you touring overseas nowdays?

Method Man: I go overseas, I do shows here but they’re not promoted to the urban areas anymore. Us dudes, we get promoted more to the suburban areas and most of my shows is white kids. Do you feel like in certain ways that you’ve made yourself a mainstream name?

Method Man: Yeah, but when it’s involuntary it feels better, it doesn’t feel like you sold a piece of a** to get where you got. Is there anything else you want fans to know about what you have coming up?

Method Man: Just be on the lookout for How High II the movie, me and Redman’s album, my comic book is called Method Man and also a television show called Burn Notice. I did an episode on there, July 10th it debuts [on the USA Network].