Method Man is an interesting study. From 1993-1995, he was the best rapper alive. Every young aspiring cat wanted to be Tical. He was larger than life, packing a voice, flow, and cadence never heard before. One of the Ego Trip rap lists (I believe) made a chart of the Rap Kings of New York gave Meth the crown during that era pre-dating eventual throne claimers Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Raekwon, 50 Cent, Diddy, Jim Jones, etc
My personal claim about Method Man’s legacy is that in 1997, during the zenith of Wu triumphs with the release of Wu-Tang Forever, he was the second best rapper of that year following Biggie. Since then, his well-documented career has been up and down like a yo-yo. But if you revisit Wu-Tang Forever, you start noticing what was influencing Meth beyond the usual assortment of comic books, headbanger boogie smoke, and the Twelve Jewels.
As a fellow emcee, you oftentimes get stuck on words or phrases. You might have a little notebook you scribble all these things down in. You might snatch up a sticky pad or Subway napkin or receipt to jot down those fleeting characters to use later when crafting lyrics. When you hear emcees reference a certain book or particular corner in Brooklyn, and you one day happen upon it, it’s a weird reward: THIS is exactly what Rapper X was talking about in 1995! You begin carrying around these buzz words that mean nothing to you outside of rap lyrics only to watch them explode like protons and electrons when you stumble across that movie or that video game or that dusty piece of vinyl or that particular cut of white girl.
In 1997, before Netflix and Redbox and IMDB.com, Method Man was either A) watching alot of American Movie Classics on basic cable or B) jotting down the titles of films from an earlier era that had badass titles suitable for a killa bee’s dart artillery. Where he came across these titles is uncertain; Meth is a legendary comic book fiend, and he later went on to work in Hollywood in campy stoner flicks as well as arthouse movies with Zach Braff. But in 1997, I have no idea how Ticallion came across the film The Naked City, a 1948 black and white semi-documentary noir about two detectives finding the killer of an attractive female. But he did and he referenced it in “As High as Wu-Tang Get”.
So this segment, Meth on Films, will delve into the movies Method Man referenced on Wu-Tang Forever, a surprising and interesting list of films that span the genres of horror, action, comedy, drama, and documentary.
First up: The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Referenced in: “Triumph” (‘Iron Lung ain’t got to tell you where I’m coming from, Guns of Navarone tearing through your battle zone, rip through your slums’)
Tagline: “An impregnable fortress… An invincible army… And the unstoppable commando team”
Starring: Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, David Niven
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson (Cape Fear, Battle for the Planet of the Apes)
Plot Summary: Two powerful German guns control the seas past the Greek island of Navarone making the evacuation of endangered British troops on a neighboring island impossible. Air attack is useless so a team of six Allied and Greek soldiers is put ashore to meet up with partisans to try and dynamite the guns. The mission is perilous enough anyway but are the Germans on the island getting further help too?
Interesting pieces of trivia:
- The highest grossing film of 1961
- Gregory Peck often said he was disappointed that so many viewers had missed how anti-war the film was intended to be
- Because the stars were all too old for their characters, the movie was nicknamed “Elderly Gang Goes Off to War” by the British press
- There is no Navarone in real life
Hollywood appeal: Part of a cycle of big-budget World War II adventures that included The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Longest Day (1962) and The Great Escape (1963)
- The film’s score has been covered by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, a definite influence on the Clan, most notably RZA and his blunted basement production techniques
- Referenced by Jules in Pulp Fiction (Every time my fingers touch brain, (…) I’m the Guns of the Navarone), which came out in 1994 and might’ve caught Meth’s attention
- Though not a kung fu flick , the basic concept of the film (historical underdogs go up against a daunting evil power) falls in line with signifiers of injustice and strategicly orchestrated counterstrikes found in various Shaw Brothers films.
Meth’s usage of the film in his rhyme: Since the “gun” part of Guns of Navarone is referring to a massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel, it’s pretty vicious for Meth to use these particular hand cannons to tear up your battle zone and your slum. One would assume this particular firepower to be quite damaging to anyone, military personnel or civilain, along the eastern seaboard in the late 1990′s.
Next up: Johnny Dangerously (1984)