Method Man and Curren$y on one bill? You’re thinking, ‘wait, shouldn’t it be Method Man and Redman?’ Normally. However, this isn’t your average tour. The Smoker’s Club Tour takes a veteran Wu-Tang Clan founding member and pairs him with up and coming youngster, Curren$y, a move that is sure to increase their fan base.
With all of that aside, let’s talk about Method Man (real name Clifford Smith). He is an empire all his own. In addition to being an integral part of the infamous Wu-Tang Clan, he is an actor, a producer and successful solo artist. He almost defies categorization.
“I’m an entertainer, so in whatever form, I entertain. The thing about being a rapper is that you have more control over your form, whereas with acting you have to compromise a lot,” Smith says. “You can’t go in there with the same mentality of ‘I’m a fu*king star. This is all about me.’ No, it’s not about you! You start stripping those layers away and becoming whatever that character is supposed to be and identifying with it.”
However, whatever craft Smith is engaging in, he exudes an air of confidence that is crucial to being such a mega-star. Whether he’s executing 16 bars during a freestyle, rapping on stage with Redman or other Wu-Tang members, acting in movies such as How High or collaborating with artists like Mary J. Blige, Smith clearly gives it his all. He is an emcee famous for his impeccable rhyming skills and his iconic voice, not what kind of gold chain he rocks.
“There are genuine artists out there who love what they do and do it with a purpose, but then you have those dudes who are a bunch of fashonistas. These kids are more concerned with the way they look than what’s coming out of their mouths,” he says. “Back when I first came out if you told a kid ‘I’m an MC,’ the first thing the kid would say to you is, ‘Oh yeah, well say a rhyme for me.’ Nowadays, you tell the kid you’re an MC and he’s like ‘Oh yeah, where’s your big chain at? Where’s your watch? Where’s your car?’ That’s what it is now. The majority of the people who listen to the music can’t afford half that sh*t.”
Smith is an O.G. East Coast rapper that had to put in a ton of work to get to where he is today. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, hip-hop had a different connotation. It wasn’t all about money and material possessions. He came up during the “Golden Age of Hip-Hop” when artists like A Tribe Called Quest and Run D.M.C. were synonymous with the genre. Perhaps, that’s why he’s so quick to dismiss the comparisons between newbies Odd Future and Wu-Tang that is so common in the press lately.
“That’s what the media does, they compare something to something else to give you a scale so to speak. If I was Odd Future, I wouldn’t want to be compared to anybody. I love Odd Future, by the way. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s very weird, but I’m into weird.”
While Wu-Tang is forever, Smith is smart to partner up with more contemporary rappers like Curren$y. It’s a way to give his career even more longevity. The rap world is fickle and there’s always another rapper waiting in the wings to grab the mic. The Smokers Club Tour is a way to get his music out to the younger generations. His upcoming fifth studio release, The Crystal Meth, is another way to keep the Method Man name alive, but you won’t hear him bragging about smoking blunts or further pushing his ‘weed-obsessed’ image. At 40 years of age, he is now a father and husband, which means his priorities have shifted a little bit. It’s impressive to know someone of his status and reputation can make an almost 180 degree change in the public spotlight. It says a lot about Smith’s character. The fact that he is willing to stand by his beliefs despite what people may think further proves the bravery he has so often personified in his music.
“I don’t want my name always being associated with smoking marijuana because there is so much more to me than that. I’m not completely disassociating myself from weed culture, but it’s not at the forefront anymore. I have kids to raise,” he says firmly. “It’s hard to sit there and be taken seriously when people think you’re always high. I’m not always high.”
Ironically, this current tour he is on refers to a “Smoker’s Club,” but hey, maybe it’s Curren$y’s weed this time.
Method Man with Curren$y, October 29, Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St., 8 p.m. Tickets are $30. Visit www.onepercentproductions.com for more information.