In 2015, the compilation project The Meth Lab hit the streets, touted as a Method Man album, though much to the chagrin of fans, the Wu-Tang Clan legend was only thinly present. “People were upset,” Method Man recalls. “Every song on there had somebody else on it with the exception of one song that I did by myself.” Meth’s referring to the smooth “2 Minutes of Your Time,” though this time around he’s clocking in at a much longer stretch.
Meth Lab II: The Lithium is on its way, and with it comes the new single “Grand Prix,” premiering here on Billboard today (Aug. 9). The track is a return to Method Man’s true form: dark undercurrents mixed with sharp wordplay and seamless delivery. It’s that skill-set that has kept Method Man a continuous torchbearer for real rap, and his most obvious attribute. “I can rhyme my ass off, that ain’t nothin’ new,” he says with a laugh. “People already knew that, but they just tend to forget. Every now and then you’ve gotta remind them.”
The sequel project also brings the return collab of Method Man with music executive upstart Anthony “Hanz On” Messado of Hanz On Music. The two met years ago, as Messado was a Wu-Tang affiliate even as a teenager. When he forged plans for his own label and wanted to work with Method Man, Meth was skeptical at first. “But the more the music came through, the more I liked it and got more involved,” he expresses. A cosign from fellow Wu family member Streetlife made the mission complete, and now a part two is already in the pipeline.
The concept of the Meth Lab in general is a haven for burgeoning talent. “It’s basically our little movement out on Staten Island that gives us a chance to give a lot of these dudes a platform to display themselves and their music and show the mechanics that go into a project,” Hanz On explains. The studio’s name came about when the owners of Trackstar Studio joined forces with Meth and Hanz to form the collaborative Meth Lab, timed with the first installment’s release, as that’s where the project was recorded. This time around, there’s a much greater presence from Method Man, enlisting other big names like Snoop Dogg and producer Dame Grease.
For Meth, it’s a renewed sense of spirit in the sport of rap. “It made it fun for me again,” he says. And with a mighty healthy film/TV career, it offers him the opportunity to align with an indie brand and watch it grow. “I should have done this a long time ago,” he admits, “but everything comes in its due time and this wasn’t my idea. It was Hanz’s project. It’s still Hanz’s project. I do music because I want to now; not because I have to.”
This won’t be the end of The Meth Lab either. Future projects will be laid out like episodes and even offer the brand to venture into comedy. It’s a testament to Method Man’s undeniable consistency, but also his willingness to pivot, and with Hanz On in the mix as well, the result is classic material with a new energy. “I want it to feel like it’s a TV show,” Method Man says. “Either a bad one, or a good one, or a polarizing one. As long as it’s a show.”