By Brian F. Johnson
It was a candid, backstage, off-the-cuff remark late last month at SXSW in Austin by Redman that set the hip-hop world into a frenzy. Shortly after Clifford Smith and Reginald “Reggie” Noble, known better as Method Man and Redman, had performed at the Def Jam 30th anniversary showcase, Redman, with an MTV microphone in his hand, said just a few simple words, “We gon’ do Blackout! 3.”
Redman was referring, of course, to the long talked-about follow-up and third installment of the Method Man and Redman catalog which started with Blackout! in 1999. That year, Mef & Red, who had collaborated many times before on various projects, tipped what in retrospect was the first domino in a long list of successful releases for Def Jam. Blackout! 2 was released in 2009, but according to Noble (Redman), fans won’t have to wait 10 years in between Blackouts, like they had to last time.
“You know, this is the first year that Red and Mef is independent, so it takes a little bit more time to throw the album out and get things together. Not being under Def Jam like we was, we not spoiled to the things that was accommodating to us. We have to pay for samples and we have to get the artwork together for us and do things ourselves. So it’s a little bit more time, but it’s coming slowly, but surely,” Noble said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “We gonna drop our solo albums first, and then maybe release a single on this maybe in October, and then, thinking logically, it’ll probably be around this time next year ’til it’s out.”
When Redman made the soft announcement at SXSW, he was not quiet about what needs to get done in order for them to put the record out, and he called on his crew by name to encourage them to step up. “RZA, Erick Sermon, get y’all asses up! Rockwilder, get yo muthafuckin’ ass up! Once we get our beats from them, then we can take other producers,” he said at SXSW. But almost two weeks after he made that statement, when we spoke, he said that he hadn’t heard a reply from any of his producers about his call to action. “We always go to our crew members first, but if they lazy and they don’t get it, we gonna move on. We ain’t waiting for no-fucking body. That’s just what it is. But we always go to the crew first,” Noble said.
Once Redman assembles the beats, he said, the actual turnaround time for the album should be very quick. He bragged, saying that he could probably turn it around in just two to three weeks, and he explained that once he gets in that mode, he can bust out material night and day.
“I go 24/7 when we got a project to do. The only reason I leave is ’cause I got a routine with my kids; their MMA practice and my daughter’s got gymnastics. So I got other responsibilities that go along, but you ask anybody in the goddamn game, you ask them about Reggie Noble. Reggie Noble go hard in the studio. I’m like the Energizer Bunny. I’ve always been that way. When I know I’m on a deadline, that’s when I work the hardest and that’s when I work the best,” he said.
Noble also explained that he does a lot of the background work on the album, so that Method Man doesn’t have to spend all of his time in the studio too during the process, but he said that they still create material together collaboratively. “I basically lay down the shit in the studio, so he can come in and lay down his vocals. We do the writing and building and laying down hooks when we’re on the road. But when it comes to all the engineering and the preparation and getting the right tracks and having the idea going on, that’s on me. So when Mef comes in all he gotta do is lay it,” he said.
Noble said that he and Method are lucky to be in the spot that they’re in, but he credited much of it to the work that they’ve put in and how they’ve balanced their solo careers with the collaboration. “We work!” he said. “When you have two guys that don’t have egos with each other and who understand the process — we have our own careers and we have our own lives — but we know when we come together it’s something special and we treat it that way. We don’t let our egos get in the way. We don’t say, ‘Who money this?’ and ‘Who money that?’ We just say, ‘Let’s do this for the world,’ and that’s why we survived all this time and why we still enjoy and love what we do.”
In the late ’90s when Method Mad and Redman were preparing to release Blackout!, they had originally planned on naming the album America’s Most Blunted. The ’90s were a much different time and weed was still very much taboo, so the pair settled on the more commercially viable name Blackout!. But since that release 15 years ago, the country’s feelings toward marijuana have changed drastically, and Red admitted that it has made them play around with some different titles for the album. “We could call it Blackout! 3: America’s Most Blunted, or The Big Heads Are At It Again, because that’s what we were going to call Blackout! 2,” he said.
Whether or not they add extra words to the title, the album will follow a legacy that the pair started a decade and a half ago when the two playful potheads got together to style rhymes around one of their favorite themes — weed. The 1999 release of Blackout! started a path that just a few years later would see Mef and Red on the silver screen co-starring in the stoner comedy How High. Multiple times since then the pair have said that a sequel to the film is in the works, at one point even as far back as 2008 Redman claimed they were half-way through shooting. But he has also said several times that Universal holds the film’s rights and that they haven’t “opened that money door” for the duo to do anything with the picture. But at the same SXSW showcase where Redman said Blackout! 3 is coming, he also announced that very fresh plans are underway for a sequel, that may or may not include Universal. And, one more project that Noble has been threatening for a long time, the release of his solo album Muddy Waters 2, he said, might finally see the light of day this year. (Last year, though, he told hiphopdx.com that the album would be out by the end of 2013.)
This time, his goal, he said, was to drop a single from that in the summer and then “wait until back to school comes around, where I could drop the album. Then I’d drop another single with Method later, near the end of the year, from Blackout! 3,” he said.
Despite the off-kilter scheduling of hype and material, Mef and Red — along side their ‘family’ of stoner rappers that includes B-Real, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Kahlifa and many more — have been pushing the marijuana movement, without fail, throughout their careers.
Playing two shows in Denver on 4/20 is the cap to that legacy, and Redman knows the amount of work that went into it. “It’s a goal that’s been accomplished. Dudes like me and Mef and B-Real and Snoop, we all put our lives on the line all of these years for what’s going on now. So in a way, we like ‘Welcome to our world, motherfuckers.’ To be, like, smoke weed legally, you know, that’s why we’re the original members of Mount Kushmore. We’re the forefathers of this shit,” Noble said.
Despite his near constant traveling for tour, Redman said that the authorities don’t pay much attention to him, so relaxed regulations shouldn’t change his life on the road, but he said where it will for he and many of his friends is on the street. “Mother fuckers got tired of being locked up for a joint, man. Especially in New York, they pull you over for some bullshit, and you might have a roach and you do two days in the fucking lock? Now, pretty soon, you’re going to be able to get Grandaddy Kush at Walgreens,” he said.
Proud of his role in the movement toward legalization and prouder still of his enduring partnership with Method Man, Red said that he wants to see it all continue to grow as the future unfolds. “At our age now, we’d go with Blackout! 3, Blackout! 4 and continue on like a Cheech and Chong career from here.”
:: Method Man & Redman ::
:: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom ::
:: April 20 ::
:: Two shows -1 p.m. and 8 p.m. ::
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