Following the release of the second Wu-Tang Clan group record, 1997’s Wu-Tang Forever, the clan members changed their approach somewhat for the next round of solo releases. Just like with the first batch of solo records, Method Man was first out of the gate with a drastically different sound. Unlike Meth’s first solo album, which was entirely produced by Rza, Tical 2000: Judgement Day contains productions from a variety of sources, which means that it had much less of the traditional Wu sound than any previous record from the group or one if its members. Of the 17 tracks on the album that are songs (as opposed to “skits”, which this album has A LOT of) only 11 (about 65%) are produced by a Wu-Tang related producer, and of those 11, Rza only contributed to four! Other well known producers who contributed to the album include the Trackmasters, Havoc from Mobb Deep, and Erick Sermon, known for his involvement with EPMD and, later on, future Method Man collaborator Redman. Critics were mostly pretty kind to the album, but I remember that when I bought the album, the guy at the record store warned me that a lot of customers had been complaining about the lack of Wu sounds on the album, and to tell the truth, I was disappointed with it, too. For a long time, in fact, if someone had asked me, I’d have said that the only song that I liked at all was the first single, Judgement Day, which has a low-key beat that builds tension due to the consistent rhythm and Meth’s fast, choppy vocal delivery. The track was produced by Method Man himself, with an assist from Wu-Affiliate 4th Disciple, who’s also contributed to some winning tracks for Clan Member Raekwon and with close affiliate Killah Priest, along with others. Maturity (mine) and age (the album’s) have treated Tical 2000 well, though, and as I was listening through for this write-up, I found myself enjoying several other tracks, most notably “Sweet Love”, featuring Cappadonna, with a smooth and melodic beat from True Master, and Party Crasher, a great story-track where where Method Man bemoans the fact that people not acting right always ruin everyone else’s good time over a beat from True Master and Rza, built upon dulled-down which drums contrast curiously against a bright horn sample. Still, though, each of those tracks sound distinctly like the Wu-Tang Clan, and some of the album’s other party cuts don’t work nearly as well. I know that I’m in the minority here, but I wish that Method Man had never hooked up with Redman or Erick Sermon, and in my mind, this album will always represent the beginning of that dubious collaboration. That’s another article, though, and for today I’ll leave you with a suggestion that if, like me, you’ve been avoiding this record because you’ve got bad memories about it, you give it another listen. It might surprise you. Next week, we’ll take a look at Bobby Digital in Stereo, from master producer Rza.