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Live Review: Method Man & Redman at Mezzanine

 

With ten years separating the release of Redman and Method Man’s collaborative albums, The Blackout and The Blackout 2, and likely ten years separating them from the average age of their fans at Mezzanine, it’s reasonable to wonder “Can rap’s appointed Cheech and Chong not sound as dated as, ‘Cheech and Chong?’” The two rappers approaching their forties are still kicking the same rhymes about bitches, weed, and beer—and bitches, weed and beer. Since their last album a lot has changed. Jay-Z and Eminem both retired and have come back, many rappers have put their stamp on the bitches, weed, and beer antics (i.e. Afroman), and we’ve heard the birth and (hopefully) the death of auto-tune. The question remains: do Method Man and Redman have anything new to contribute? This is where reviewing their show is tricky, because in truth—they don’t. Before this is interpreted as negative, understand that many reviews of their new album Blackout 2 have made a similar critique. The album is solid because both emcees are veteran talents, but none of their new songs rise to the level of their earlier work.

*all photos courtesy of Victoria Smith

Before the arrival of the How High duo, Ghostface Killa roused the crowd with classics like “Ice Cream,” and “Tommy Motola.” “Be Easy,” one of Ghostface Killa’s newer tracks from Fishscale was a highlight as Ghostface threw his arm back in forth to the beat as the crowd mimicked his motions. Ghostface Killa’s demeanor onstage is almost indifferent, but remains warm as he smiles while pacing back and forth across stage, spitting clearly lines like, “Got my D.D.L. on me, that’s my Dick ‘em Down License.”

Once the venue was filled with enough to get everyone high, it was time for the Redman and Method Man show. The duo is known for their stage presence as Method Man’s bullet flows complement Redman’s punctuated off color rhymes. Like old friends knowing each other’s ins and outs the two balance each other. Method Man is aloof but goofy, while Redman is loud, and seems to relish the attention. “All these rappers talk about their bling, their rings, and shit. This is what I got,” said Redman as he extended his bare hand to the crowd. With similar antics throughout the night, at one point resting for a “smoke break,” the duo cracked jokes, played pranks on the crowd (splashing fans with open bottles of water), creating an infectiously positive vibe.

While they promote The Blackout 2, it was their classic songs that fans remembered. “Y’all, have heard this track,” Method Man exclaimed before rapping to their new single, “A’yo.” Sure enough, those in the front row rapped along with the performers, but for many of the new songs (“Hey Zulu,” and “City Lights”) the rest of crowd seemed to bob their heads unknowingly. It was their classics, “Bring the Pain,” or “Pick It Up,” that got everyone dancing. After ten years of performing, maybe the expectations are too high, or maybe their fans’ short term memories are to blame.

Method Man and Redman have created enough hits over fifteen years that it’s easy for them to play an engaging show with just old material. Their sound is stagnant. While tracks like “City Lights,” have utilized newly popularized styles like chop ‘n screw and auto-tune, the duo’s rap shenanigans (note: bitches, weed, and beer) remain tirelessly the same. Does this mean you shouldn’t see them live? No. Method Man and Redman are one of the classic rap duos. At the end of the set, Method Man attempted to walk on the crowd, only to his dismay falling backwards and being caught in the arms of his fans. Maybe this is a sign. The two were at their highest with the “Rockwilder.” Now, only weed can get them higher.

- David Johnson-Igra

see more photos from the show at SFCritic Music Blog

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