METHOD MAN WANTS NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
Method Man begins our phone call with a dry “Whud up?” I wonder if he will continue to be similarly tight-lipped throughout our interview. Thankfully, he isn’t. Instead, with each passing minute, his engagement in our conversation deepens as the talent often affectionately referred to as simply “Meth” graciously opens up about the various ways he’s had to prove his worth to the doubters in his life—including himself.
“Understand, I was a Black boy living in some of the worst areas in New York,” says the now 51 year-old rapper turned actor, who was raised in the Clifton neighborhood of Staten Island. “I’ve always felt like I wasn’t enough. I’ve been told that from the gate, ‘You don’t belong here.’ Sometimes even without words.” But as damaging as those messages were, such experiences also strengthened Method Man’s ability to persevere as he fought to be taken seriously in Hollywood.
Born Clifford Smith Jr., he started out in 1992 with the hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan. He was the first member of the group to debut his own solo project, 1994’s Tical, which reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. He went on to release additional group and solo albums, but by the early 2000s, the landscape had shifted. “There was a changing of the guard in hip-hop,” Method Man explains. “I was cool with that. I had to evolve with the business and if that meant acting, so be it. I was going to throw all my eggs in one basket.”