Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to catch Method Man live at the Sound Academy in Toronto. Most people dream of seeing their favorite, or in my case second favorite Wu-tang member, at least once in their lifetime. I was lucky enough to see Meth for the second time (the first was at Rock the Bells in September). Going into the Sound Academy, I felt the same jitters that I felt at Rock the Bells. I was about to see the one and only Method Man. I frequent the Sound Academy often and from my many experiences there, I can definitely say that I haven’t seen the place this packed in a while. I especially noticed the diverse crowd, which was made up by young heads, old heads, men and women alike. The show was put on by Five & Dime in partnership with Union Events as part of a LEGENDS series. MC Sir Lancelot was the host for the evening; he was kind enough to give a shout-out to the Bad-Perm team in the building! Alongside Sir Lancelot was DJ Kaewonder, who pleased the crowd during transitions.
Toronto’s own Raz Fresco, the only opening act of the night, radiated his energy onto the crowd with his fellow Baker, 6th letter. The teenage rapper and producer rocked the stage with tracks off his CakeyPocket$ mixtape. Fresco changed the pace, from heavy 808s and drums to acapella “cut the music” he instructed. Even with a change of pace, Fresco delivered that same high energy and kept the crowed excited. When the music for “Donald Trump” began to play, onlookers could visibly see that Fresco had a lot of fans in the building. There were people in the crowd powerfully reciting lyrics back at Fresco, who is well on his way to building a strong fan base— not just here in Canada, but internationally as well. His performance at the Sound Academy left me enthusiastic to see what the future has in store for the young mc. His exceptional stage presence and delivery got the crowd officially ready for Method Man. Sir Lancelot and DJ Kaewonder graced the stage once again, talking us into the part of the night that we were all waiting for.
The lights dim, and the W’s rise. “Check it, I’m the f***ing man, who they mention…” Method Man storms on stage looking quite patriotic, in his red sweater, jeans, and winter attire (funky fur hat included). “Release Yo’ Delf” was the first track of the night; appropriate considering he definitely kept the crowd moving and involved with some call and response, “When I say Meth, you say Man”, this went on back on forth until he took it back to some, in his words “Wu-tang Shit”. The music for the classic “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” blasted through the speakers and the crowd went *in my best Dilla voice*, stupid!
“From the slums of Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan strikes again, The RZA, the GZA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghost Face Killa and the Method Man”.
I was pretty surprised to hear him perform “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” so early in the set; this is one of his most well known tracks. The crowd stirred left and right, screaming lyrics and tirelessly holding up their W’s.Continuing on that “Wu-tang Shit”, Meth performed the track that all the French-vanilla, butter-pecan and chocolate-deluxe ladies love: “Ice Cream”. Wearing a scarf wasn’t a good idea because I was literally melting when that track came on from the packed, frenzied crowd.
When I saw Method Man for the first time in September (RTB 2012), the one thing I really stuck with me was his effort to engage with the audience. He steps aside from the music and talks to the hundreds of folks who came out to see him—This means a lot to fans when their favorite artist comes to town. It’s not just, I’m gonna perform a few songs and dip with Meth, he truly delivers when it comes to fan interaction.
“I love Toronto” he says, “The T.O. is the closest thing to New York City, since New York City”. Meth certainly told the crowd what they wanted to hear. The distinct beat of “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” then blared from the speakers, captivating the crowd, as he performed the Grammy-Award winning track.
The night continued with Crowd surfing, tracks like “What The Bloodclot” and “C.R.E.A.M.”, and more crowd interaction. Meth takes a minuet to tell us about his encounter with the infamous folks at the customs office:
“I love your weed, I love your style, I love your people, but there’s one thing that I just can’t f**k with Canada, and that is customs. Goddamn customs, customs, customs. Now I’mma keep it 100, if y’all want your borders safe, they’re doing their f**king job. Everybody aint coming to Canada to make trouble, some people just wanna come party with the locals! You know what I mean? “
The crowd was responsive to Meth’s spiel, showing signs of admiration and excitement.
“These motherf**kers [customs] hold the power to whether y’all see an artist or don’t see an artist…..as I was sitting in customs this time, it wasn’t as bad as before but, after the second hour of waiting I got fed up and ya’ll know my motto when I get fed up. I stood up in the middle of the customs agency and I said MOTHERF**KER DON’T YALL KNOW? WU-TANG CLAN AINT NOTHING TO F**K WITH!”
The crowd, myself included, went ballistic. That was the perfect story to commence Wu-Tangs “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit”, following with “Shame on a”. The crowd chanted “Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang”.
The one thing you can anticipate at a Meth show is an Ol Dirty Bastard tribute—Toronto chanted “ODB”, after Meth. We all put our 1’s in the air, remembering the late Wu-member. Rapper and Hypeman of the night Streetlife, accompanied Meth in remembering ODB.
Before hitting up the Sound Academy, I came up with a few interview questions in hopes of getting a word in with Meth after the show. I was particularly interested on his thoughts/knowledge of the Canadian rap scene. To my surprise, Meth end up bringing Toronto’s own Saukrates on stage.
The night came to an end with “Da Rockwilder”. There is no greater feeling than jamming in unison and going ape shit with complete strangers to one of my favorite tracks, while watching Method Man crowd surf. It was the perfect ending to a more than stellar night.
Just when I thought the show was over, Meth comes back on stage and asks “do I put on a good show?” The crowd responds positively, cheering and holding up their W’s yet again. It’s satisfying to know that after 20 years in the business, Meth still cares about how his fans feel. I appreciate his humility, and down-to-earth attributes.
After seeing Method Man for the second time, I can positively say that he is the best performer; with stage presence that excels any other artist I have ever seen.
Review by: Amanda Girgis