Exclusive: Redman & Method Man look back at over 20 years in the industry including their first encounter and the time Red tried to light Method Man's foot on fire.
At first glance, Method Man and Redman appear to be exactly how you’ve seen them portrayed throughout the years. It’s not surprising that Red paused in the middle of his set to compliment California on their greenery.
“Cali, y’all got some good ass weed in this mothafucka,” Red proclaimed in the middle of “I’ll Be Dat.” When he finishes signing dozens of autographs, he greets his partner in rhyme by strolling up with a mini boombox playing, “G’d Up” by Tha Eastsidaz. And true to form, Meth threw out a few of the type of statements you’d expect from someone who had Wendy Williams put his wife’s private medical history out for public consumption. Then the New York Post essentially twisted a joke of his and stated he was too high to pay his taxes. Plus there are those semi-nude selfies. So yeah, Meth’s not exactly Mr. Congeniality if you happen to mention you work for an online publication and would like an interview.
“Y’all know I don’t do interviews, right?” Meth quips. “People cross the line with me a lot, because I’m a nice guy.”
But look a bit deeper, and—aside from the fact that these two have logged some serious hours in the gym—you may discover there’s more to learn, despite the fact they’ve been in the game for over 20 years and have recorded together off and on since the 1995 offering “How High.”
Method Man’s self-described “lemon face” vibe disappears when he spots his niece and lets all in attendance know how proud he is that she’s attending Columbia University. And while there’s plenty of talk about Red’s infamous “MTV Cribs” appearance and the time he tried to light Meth’s foot on fire, he’s not in the mood for jokes when asked about preserving the feeling captured in Hip Hop’s Golden Era—especially showmanship.
As much as Redman and Method man can sometimes appear to be a Hip Hop bretheren separated at birth, they’re also both Yin and Yang. Given what we’ve learned about them over the past few decades, the only given is that they’ll most likely continue to surprise fans when least expected.
Red & Meth Talk ‘90s Hip Hop & “All I Need”
HipHopDX: Red, during the show, you said, “It was about good music and good weed in the ‘90s.” What’s the difference between the ‘90s and where we are right now?
Redman: I think the respect level for the game. Substance. When you came out in the ‘90s, you had to be respected in the street. You had to be nice with the mic device. You just couldn’t come out with a hot record and shit and be the mothafuckin’ man. You had to earn that shit. And when you came out with a record in the ‘90s it was big, ‘cause we ain’t have the Internet and all that shit, which means we had to hit the mom and pop stores. We had to reach out and actually touch mothafuckas and actually be in certain cities for people to see us. They couldn’t just see us over the Internet that quick. You had to come out and see us. So the respect level for the game, how we treated it and how rappers get on, I think that’s the difference. It is what it is.
DX: Meth, you had a nice amount of hit singles. How important was it to still drop jewels in a commercially successful, crossover single like “All I Need,” where youre talking about the female “rockin’ three-fourths of cloth?”
Method Man: Honestly, I was just talking about one person in particular. But looking at where things are now and where they were at when I did that record, when you have clad women—and I aint got nothing against it—I think they beautiful regardless of what they got on. But in a sense, I showed with that record that doesn’t really matter to me at the end of the day. It’s about how deep you are and how down you are for me and my cause. The record took on a whole life of its own. I appreciate everything Def Jam did to push the record as far as they did. And Mary J. Blige and the whole Grammy and everything—I think it spoke for itself though.
DX: If you’re looking at things based on cultural impact, longevity and raw skill level, Redman might be one of the best to ever do it. Do you think about things in those terms as far as being one of the best ever?
Redman: No. Not at all. In my category? No. As for me, I know I work hard, but [I’m] not the G.O.A.T. What is it like, “Goat?” I can’t even say it. Yeah, G.O.A.T., Greatest of All Time...no.
DX: Why not? You just talked onstage about being nice, competitive. You’re all of those...
Redman: I’m just glad that I’m still in the circle of being spoken about as far as nice emcees. I’m still spoken about in a circle of nice emcees, and that’s enough for me. You know what really gets me rocked off? When a motharfucka come up to and be like, “Yo, you started me rapping, or you’re the reason why I do what I do.” And that’s enough for me. Greatest of All Time? I don’t need it. But I appreciate that shit though.
Redman & Method Man Recall Initially Hearing Each Other’s Music
DX: This one will be the same question for both of you. Meth, when was the first time you heard Redman rhyme?
Method Man: “Hardcore,” I think that’s what the name of it was, right? “Hardcore.” Like he said, back in the day it was like when you heard an emcee, it was like you knew. When we heard his voice, and we heard that verse and them bars… EPMD had already made their bones, but who is this nigga? Same shit with K-Solo. It was like EPMD, dope. That’s dope. But who is this nigga? When Doc came out at the Fat Jam, the nigga came out to “Protect Ya Neck.”
Redman: You already know! “Protect Ya Neck” right off the bat...
Method Man: Not even on that right there. Staten Island fell in love with the nigga even more when his man knocked out the soundman in the middle of the set. Fuck that. And the crowd wasn’t giving him the love he was supposed to get that mothafuckin’ night. And he got it after that...after that shit happened. Yeah, they was on his side, and it was a good look.
Redman: The crowd wasn’t giving me the love I was supposed to get?
Method Man: [To Redman] You was standin’ up there...let me tell you exactly what you did. He did a song—he did a couple of songs, right? The music was off, and somebody started clapping, and he was like, “Nah, don’t clap.” Remember that? So for me on the outside looking in, it looked like they wasn’t giving him the fucking shit he deserved and shit. But by the end of that mothafucka, the whole crowd was with the god.
DX: What about you, Red? When was the first time you heard Method Man?
Redman: Aww, man, off of “Protect Ya Neck?” I was like, “Yo, these niggas is turned up, boy!” The first time I heard Meth on “Protect Ya Neck,” he stood out. But the whole team stood out. The whole team stood out on that record, man. And off of that, I knew that I didn’t want to be a fan, I wanted to kind of be part of the fam. Right off the bat, I came off of the Fat Jam reppin’ and lettin’ niggas know like, “This is what I’m bumpin’.” And as far as Meth—even when he stood out from the Clan and we started doing the Red and Meth thing—he’s got that personality that just stands out in what we do.
It makes the whole circle operate...you know what I’m talking about? He got his style; I got my style, and we could never be compared to one another. That’s how the circle turns. Our circle turns without worrying about egos, who’s the best or who’s the hottest. That’s because when we’re together, we unite as one and make the whole scene hot. It’s not just like, “Yo, this nigga’s hot, and this nigga’s not.” You’ve got some groups like that. They’ll say, “Yo, I fuck with that nigga. But the other cat is alright.” When we teamed up, nigga? It’s impeccable! So the first time I heard this nigga rap? It was on and poppin’...of the dick!
Method Man: And niggas still sleep on him [points to Redman].
Redman: Especially “PLO Style.” Y’all gotta turn back to the first Method Man album and not just go into the singles. You gotta go into the records that’s not the singles. Like “PLO Style,” and what else to hit them with off the first album?
Method Man: Ummm...“Mr. Sandman.” But look, I’m going for most underrated ever. Most underrated ever, for real.
Redman: I don’t think so.
Method Man: It’s all good, and I got a lot to say. It’s coming.
Redman: I don’t think you got nothing to prove.
Method Man: I don’t got nothing to prove; I just got a lot to say. It’s coming.
DX: So when did you guys actually first meet?
Method Man: At a Kris Kross album release party. Real shit...I’m lying?
Method Man: Kris Kross album release party.
Redman: Big ups to Kris Kross. R.I.P. Chris [Kelly].
Method Man: I think we took two pictures. And that picture—the whole year before we even dropped our next albums, “Month of the Man” tour, any of that shit. That shit was in Hits, that shit was in fucking The Source, that shit was every fucking where. That one picture. And Nas was there too, but I ain’t see no pictures of Nas.
Redman: Kris Kross was hot. Kris Kross was firing.
DX: Red, back then X-Clan and Erick Sermon were really some of the few East Coast artists to sample Parliament Funkadelic and Roger Troutman. You were producing on the MP-60 back then, how important is the funk element in Hip Hop?
Redman: What’s funny is I was talking to my dude Kenyatta out here yesterday. We was just going back and forth about what was hot in the ‘80s and ‘90s and shit. He from the West Coast, and he was tellin’ me about when EPMD came out with they first album. They said they was over here on the West Coast at least eight times out the month, ‘cause it wasn’t nobody doing funk shit. Everybody was listening to Roger Troutman and shit over here, so it worked for us. We was bi-coastal a lot ‘cause of that funk. So it worked for us. It didn’t work for too many motherfuckers. X-Clan, it worked for.
Redman Talks “MTV Cribs” & Meeting Dr. Dre
DX: This is something we’ve been debating since the episode aired. Was that really your house on “MTV Cribs?”
Redman: Yeah, it was my house on cribs.
DX: Did you get the doorbell fixed?
Redman: No, I didn’t get the doorbell fixed. And I still got the dollar box too god damn it. You trying to make fun of my crib? I don’t need no doorbell, because don’t nobody come by there. Only my homies if they need the studio, and that’s it.
DX: It was interesting that Whut? Thee Album came out five months before The Chronic was released. But in your production, you used a lot of the same samples that Dr. Dre used. Have you ever talked to Dre about where you mind was at or what...
Redman: Absolutely not. I didn’t talk to Dre at all. I said hi to Dre, and I said, “Yo, what’s good,” and he was like, “What’s good,” but it was never like a sit down. He always said, “We gotta do something...we gotta do something, Red.” Now I know when Dre say that, it will roll around to that time when he’ll be like, “Yo, I need to put Red and Meth on a joint.” And he gonna reach out. Watch, he gonna need it. Everybody need a Red and Meth on they joint to seal the deal. You cant go through Hip Hop without Red and Meth as a part of your shit. That’s just who we are, man. We can’t help it. You gotta have Red and Meth on your shit, yo. We still poppin’ off.
Method Man: [Laughs] If anybody needs a reality show, man. I’m telling you [points at Redman]. Just put a camera in Brick City. No, you cant see everything and shit, cause of the illegal activity. But yo, let a camera follow this nigga around all day, and I’m telling you, nigga...hit TV show. That’s a hit TV show off top.
Redman: A camera following us around all day? This nigga funny as hell [points to Method Man]. This nigga be clowning on the low, yo.
Method Man: No I don’t. I’m dead serious.
Redman: Clowning on the low, yo. Clowning! Funny as hell, yo. I tell you if they record us on the tour bus, like from the different attitudes from morning time to night time, it would be funny as hell. Y’all would be trippin’...trust me.
Method Man: This nigga be lighting people feet on fire and shit. He a funny nigga.
Method Man On His 20-Plus Year Career & Tour Bus Pranks
DX: What happened?
Redman: He got mad at me for that shit. That shit went up, and he got mad as hell. This nigga was like, “Yo, don’t me lighting my god damn foot on fire, man!”
Method Man: He lit my shit on fire, man. You don’t do that to your homie and shit. You don’t light your homie on fire. Friends don’t light friends on fire while they resting. Straight up. I ain’t no morning person and shit. And he laugh at me every morning, ‘cause I got the sourpuss—the straight lemon face on. You know when you suck a lemon the way your face looks? Every morning. Every fucking morning. But yo, it ain’t every day when people can celebrate a 20th anniversary. I think P.E., EPMD should have been did it. It’s a few out there that can do that shit. This motherfucker working on 25 years.
Redman: Working on 25 years of what?
Method Man: Being in the game.
Redman: Damn, you just put my shit out there like that?
Method Man: Nigga, that’s dope. That shit is crazy...that’s a quarter of a century. It’s better to say a quarter of a century than two decades. A quarter of a century. Basically, to be looked at in the light that Wu-Tang is looked at in, and I’m going to give you an example. When we go overseas, the majority of the kids out there they have these demin jackets with these patches on them: Anthrax, Metallica, Slipknot...you know different bands like that. And on the majority of them jackets you see that Wu-Tang emblem on there. You have fans tattooing our symbol on their bodies. That shit is forever. Just the fact that we can touch so many people for so long, over so many years is just incredible to me, man. I ain’t never had a job that fucking long. Real shit. And we respect and love each and every fan. That’s why when I go out and I do a show, I make sure I give it my all, man. I leave everything out there.
DX: Meth, where were you the first time you ever saw a fan with a Wu logo on their face?
Method Man: I’ve never seen that shit. You seen that?
DX: U-God told us he was in Miami, and a dude had a Wu logo on his face.
Redman: That’s the illest.
Method Man: Wow. Well, I remember this one dude had the Wu logo tatted on his chest. So I go to give him dap while I’m rhyming with the fist, and he grabbed my hand and kissed it. So I called my brother Big Nut. Y’all know who Big Nut is, and Nut knocked him out for me. You don’t go around kissing people hands, man. That’s not a good look. Word up...HipHopDX.
Redman: HipHopDX in the building.