|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2004-04-23
Howard Stern made this observation recently: Hard-living street rappers seem to be tough on the outside but softer on the inside. Many rappers talk about murder and mayhem, but perform in movies and talk about home life as if they were starring in happy sitcoms.
And so here is Method Man, 33, a hard-core rapper who acts in this year's movies "Soul Plane," "Garden State" and "My Baby's Daddy."
And even though reporters often write of his bling-bling lifestyle -- a $100,000 diamond pendant in the shape of an ice pick that strikes downward from a necklace; his penchant for luxury cars -- Method Man says that image of him is skewed.
"Some of that (image) is far-fetched, but I like how they make me sound," says Method Man, aka Clifford Smith. "I'm just an average dude. You might run into me at the supermarket buying deodorant. I'm one of those dudes. And when I'm home, I'm in the house with my family. I don't even party, man -- somewhat, every now and then, but not when I'm at home. ... But I'm too tired after the shows to do anything."
Method Man says the hip-hop lifestyle glamorized in music videos and in movies does seem "cool," but kids shouldn't try it at home.
"I hate to sound preachy, but the youngsters aren't gettin' a good understandin' of it," he says. "Ja Rule can do that (party stuff), because he's gettin' Ja Rule money. You can't live like that. And it's definitely not gonna happen for you if you're trying to get fast money. ... That perception alone is leavin' a lot of the young men feeling like outcasts in society, because they got nothin' to show, 'cause nobody's hirin'."
Method Man says that on top of that, relationships make young men feel even more pressure to live up to the Ja Rule lifestyle.
"Women -- they all want a man with money," he says. "She wants somebody who will have some security, so if she has any babies by this man, their kids are gonna be well-taken care of. There's no woman out there who will say she wants a broke" man.
But even though young men have troubles, Method Man says they and everyone else in America should count their blessings simply for taking a breath in this nation.
"We live in the best ... country on the planet, man. I don't know what people's problems are. I know the war (is going on). But I don't know if you been overseas, but ain't (any good shows) to watch on TV. The food's nasty," he says.
Here, he laughs at what he's said, and goes on.
"Not all overseas is (bad). But you know what I mean. It's a whole different lifestyle over there. There's a whole bunch of freedoms that they don't have over there that we have."
The bottom line, he says, seriously but with humor, is that a lot of Americans don't realize how good they have it.
"There are people out there way more (messed up) than you are," he says. Pause. "Martha Stewart's going to jail, you know?"
As for Method Man and other rappers who act, he says it's just part of being an all-around entertainer.
"I mean, performing in front of a crowd of 30,000 people, there's actors that can't even do that, you know?"
Acting, he says, isn't easy and it isn't hard.
"There are some (film) parts that are way out of our range, and we shouldn't be takin' them in the first place. But the transition isn't that hard" from rapping to acting, he says.
"Honestly, if I ain't never hung around a doctor or been around a doctor, I couldn't play a doctor on the screen. And to hang around one for a month or somethin' like that, I don't think I'd be into it like that. I don't give a (expletive) what the paycheck was."
Method Man says there are plenty of parts that rappers are naturals for, even though white rapper Eminem played one that could have normally gone to a black rapper.
"That's the influence that hip hop's got on the industry right now. Everybody wants a piece of it. For a second, I got scared, 'cause there was so many movies where white people was rappin'."
Is there anything else Method Man wants to tell you? Yes, one more thing.
"I just want to tell the fans what they can expect from this album, Tical 0 The Prequel due out May 18. They can expect to pay $12.99 for that (expletive). There it is."
Written by Doug Elfman for the Las Vegas Review-Journal