Oh Gods

His last album, Tical, was one that Meth spent too much time making excuses for, since after the Wu debut and Rae and right before Genius it is, in my book, the third best Wu album. Those that dismissed it were the underground's version of playa haters (a term I apologize for even employing). Meth's appeal matched with his undeniable talent plain intimidates boys in the all-boys club. And the dense, battle hymn production on Tical, which many argue is the problem with the album, is exactly the kind of sonic work that has earned RZA a reputation as an innovator.

Because of the lukewarm street reception of the platinum Tical, Meth is hungrier than ever on Judgement Day. His sophomore album has the focus and conviction no one seemed to be able to muster for Forever. He is as generous as any Wu when it comes to passing the mic. "Play IV Keeps," featuring Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep and Deck, is so riotous it will make you want to rob someone. Or at least run a red light. But Meth's brightest moments are his own. "Re tro Godfather" loops the classic "I'll Do Anything for You" in a way that is irreverent but uncompromising. "Break Ups 2 Make Ups," a collabo with D'Angelo, is a sour shout out to an ex who wants one more chance, but it comes from the space of some one who actually once had love for the sis, not just the circumference of her. "Sweet Love" featuring Street Life and Capadonna is a street serenade sequel to Raekwon's "Ice Cream." At 110 bpm, the millennium-phobic title track "Judgement Day" is a sequel to the classic "Bring the Pain." "Killing Fields" is a breathless battle rhyme done solo. The album is both anarchic and appealing, hardcore and thoughtful.

How ironic that the god with the most shine would emerge the most consistently listenable of this subpop rowdy bunch? While RZA seems to be burning out—after overseeing almost a dozen albums in less than six years he has begun to relinquish the board; the gods Tru Master, 4th Disciple, and even Deck and Meth submit tracks on Judgement Day—Method Man is picking up steam. I don't doubt the two will resent the juxtaposition. In their communal god body a win for one is a win for all. But they've been shooting like 50 percent for a long time now. Not supreme being status by anyone's religion.

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