Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium
Hanz On Music · December 21, 2018
It’s been 25 years since the ground-breaking and genre-shaking release of Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, but the group is still very much alive today in 2018. One of the Wu-Tang Clan’s most essential pieces, Method Man, has released his fifth solo studio album, Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium. The first member of the Wu-Tang Clan to venture out as a solo artist with his acclaimed, Grammy-winning project Tical in 1994, Method Man expanded his extensive and successful solo discography with a 22-track tape that manages to run just under an hour.
Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium is a follow-up to Method Man’s 2015 project, The Meth Lab, which reached 57 on the Billboard 200. The album is innovative in nature, as it is structured to resemble a TV season. Each song is titled as an “episode” with the album progressing in chronological order, and interlude-like skits break up the tracks to resemble commercial breaks on television. The commercial breaks are short and sometimes on the goofier side, giving listeners a break and a chance to experience Method Man’s humor. This stands in stark contrast to his drug-dealing, party-loving player persona he is most commonly associated with.
The album works to establish a 1990’s hip-hop feel, with the production from Meth Lab 2 reminding listeners of the rugged, underground sound that propelled and subsequently established Method Man and the Wu-Tang Clan to stardom decades ago. Tracks like ‘Episode 2 – Eastside’ and ‘Episode 5 – Wild Cats’ have fun, bass-heavy beats that make them sound like they could fit right in on Method Man’s classic 1999 collaboration album Blackout! with Redman. Over the catchy beats, Method Man sounds like he hasn’t missed a step, with his tight lyrical flow and signature charismatic delivery making up for the lyrics which lean heavily on drugs and sex. Method Man’s iconic style of rapping has earned him accolades and recognition dating all the way back to 1993. He was given the only solo track on Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers,an honor supposedly achieved by winning a rap battle between all members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Throughout Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium, Method Man enlists multiple features to add star power and life to the album, including Snoop Dogg, Noreaga, longtime collaborator Redman, and fellow Wu-Tang Members Cappadonna and Masta Killa.
Overall, the album is a fun listen, with Method Man’s hypnotic cadence luring listeners to stay engaged even in the album’s slower moments. While Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium is neither Method Man’s most cohesive or memorable work, it is a definitive declaration that Method Man is here to stay in the music industry. It shows the rapper’s intent on staying true to his Staten Island-influenced style and sound that he helped pioneer and trail blaze. Combining lyrics clearly set in 2018 (including references to things like Uber and Donald Trump) and a vintage sound, Method Man delivers an enjoyable sequel to The Meth Lab while not conforming to the style of rap currently dominating the charts today, which is an impressive feat in its own right.