Method Man (real name Clifford Smith) is a New York legend and has been a prevalent force in hip-hop since the early 1990s. Born and raised in Long Island, Smith lived with his father in Long Island but frequently stayed with his mother, who resided in Staten Island.
As an African-American individual frequently present in the Clifton area of Staten Island, locally known as Killa Hill, Smith quickly began to socialise alongside people of his age group in the area who he would eventually become close friends with Wu-Tang founder RZA and his cousins GZA and Ol Dirty Bastard (ODB). After making so many friends in the area where his mother lived, Smith chose to attend New Dorp High School. Here, he met Remedy, a friend and associate of Cappadonna. Remedy was a close comrade of all the Wu-Tang members and was an integral part of their rise to fame in a production capacity.
As a close affiliate of all the Wu-Tang members following the crew’s transition from a trio into a nine-piece outfit, he was among the first to be selected to join the collective in 1992. Method Man, akin to Ol Dirty Bastard, was one of the group’s most prominent figures. Due to his prevalence, Smith became one of two emcees afforded a solo track on the crew’s debut album Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.
Method Man was featured on all of the Clan’s most well-known hits. However, following Wu-Tang’s dissipation, Smith was one of the few members who successfully went on to have a solo career. The emcee transitioned into acting and even formed a successful duo with the iconic New Jersey rapper Redman. The two both featured in the stoner comedy film How High and released a string of collaborative albums, one of their most well-known being Blackout! which debuted at number three on the Billboard 200.
In the 1990s, the former Wu-Tang rapper even collaborated with 2pac and Biggie Smalls. In an interview with the renowned magazine GQ, Smith was asked which collaboration boasts the better Method Man verse. Concerning his Tupac Shakur collaboration, Smith replied, “I like ’em both, honestly. I was a little bit more relaxed [and] had a little bit more time to write. I was hanging with Tha Dogg Pound. Those were my dudes.”
About his Biggie verse, the Clan emcee stated, “With Biggie, that was like my second encounter with him, but it was a comfortable environment. I knew who Puff was and sh*t, and we both wrote our verses there, but if I had to pick one, ‘The What’ has a way better beat, especially with the verses.” ‘The What’ was featured on Biggie Smalls’ 1994 album Ready To Die and was the only song on the album to feature another rapper.
You can see the interview and hear ‘The What’ in the videos below.