Working Method

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Hip-hop's a lot younger than rock, but it's already got its own classic signifiers. Like the Rolling Stones' tongue, there's Wu-Tang Clan's "W," still being rocked no matter how little relation Wu's music might have to the sounds that younger kids are bumping. It's like the group predicted with the title of their 1997 double album, Forever, which marked the climax of Wu-mania.

Recent times have seen a reemergence of Wu-Tang in movies, books and, naturally, music, with the release of 8 Diagrams in late '07 and Soundtracks from the Shaolin Temple in October.

The rappers just might have the strength to break the "what goes up must come down" rule. A big part of their staying power comes from diversifying; being multifaceted, especially in a way that's tough and weird, will always be considered cool.

No one represents the essence of this mystique better than deep-voiced, funny and mysterious Method Man. To get primed for his Dec. 27 set at BoMA, here's a rundown on what Method's been up to lately, in case you (like many) jumped the Wu ship after watching that corny "Gravel Pit" video.

"Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan"

Just released on DVD after premiering on BET last month, this is a firsthand account of the Wu's rise from humble but gritty Staten Island, aka Shaolin, by early Wu-Tang video director Gerald K. Barclay. The film includes early footage of the Wu in the studio, in which RZA explains his unusual production methods (he tries to make Method feel like he's being attacked, so he has to use his coolness to disarm and control the song). The documentary also offers a poignant view of how Ol' Dirty Bastard's incarceration and death took some steam out of the Clan.

"The Wire"

In the role of Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff on our president-elect's favorite TV show, Method was a gambler and a crew chief for his uncle's drug operation who ended up being hunted by series heavy Omar Little (Michael K. Williams). He may have become a target for his loose-cannon ways or his dog-fighting interest, but there was also that huge heroin delivery Omar was looking to steal from Cheese. Regardless, Method played the 'hood cowboy to a T.

"The Wackness"

Released earlier this year, this coming-of-age tale starring Josh Peck of Drake and Josh fame and Ben Kingsley garnered huge responses from audiences at Sundance and mixed reactions from critics nationwide. Though the movie was immersed in Wu-era hip-hop (the soundtrack even includes "Tearz" off their 1993 debut), Method stepped out a little to play a Rasta, trading in his growling slanguage for a Jamaican patois.

Right Guard commercials

OK, so it's been a few years since Method Man and his How High partner Redman shilled for Right Guard, but it's still worth a snicker that someone who once called himself Johnny Blaze endorsed a deodorant for covering the stank of the herb. If you're stopping to pay a New York toll booth collector and you're in an SUV that's totally smoked up, however, nothing's going to mask that aroma, as Method found out during a 2007 bust.

Upcoming projects

Along with reportedly working on a sequel to How High, Method is now readying Blackout 2 with Redman for an early 2009 release. Considering that Method's 2006 album 4:21, while not perfect, was a zillion times better than 2004's Tical 0: The Prequel - and taking into account all the solid work on the last Wu album - Method the multimedia star looks to still have some grimy songs in him.

What: Method Man

When: 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27

Where: Bar of Modern Art, Discovery District