Not that he needs another nickname, but Wu-Tang Clan MC Method Man (a.k.a. "Tical") just might be the "Anti-Puffy" that exhausted radio listeners have been praying for. This album's airwave-friendly duet with D'Angelo, "Break Ups 2 Make Ups," shows Puff Daddy how to use a Sting sample without it using you.
If the rest of his second solo outing doesn't attain a similar apex of gangsta-soul smoothness, much of it comes pretty close. The samples draw from a wider spectrum than found in most modern hip-hop -- from '70s blaxploitation flicks to mariachi horns -- and are balanced with bass-heavy, head-bobbing beats.
"Cradle Rock," an eerie collaboration with TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez, blasts fake rappers with a minor-key nursery rhyme variation. "Sweet Love," featuring fellow Clansman Cappadonna, is lewd enough to make 2 Live Crew jealous yet sounds almost romantic due to its soothing horns. "Big Dogs," with fellow hemp-head Redman, rounds out the album with funky fun. Overall, "Tical 2000" contains some of the freshest apocalyptic jams in recent memory.