Morrison, CO – Def Jam Recordings was founded 34 years ago in a New York University dorm room by the heavily bearded Rick Rubin. Since then, it’s blossomed into the powerhouse label it is today and is responsible for establishing the careers of artists like the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Public Enemy.
By the time Method Man arrived in 1994, not only was Wu-Tang Clan already a hot commodity but Def Jam was also earning its stripes as one of the best Hip Hop labels out there. After four solo albums with the imprint, including his 1994 debut Tical, things were changing at Def Jam and Meth admits he didn’t exactly handle it well.
“I burned a lot of fucking bridges at Def Jam,” Meth told HipHopDX in April. “I had a lot of love for the company ’cause I came in when I was young. I had been there for so many fucking years, so when staff changed and people changed and things started to change, I didn’t know how to handle the shit.
“I hung onto the people that were still there and alienated myself from the new people and by that, that small circle I had, the bigger circle around it, none of them fucked with me. And then that small circle that I fucked with, there was nothing they could do about it, so they couldn’t fuck with me either, so now I’m a man on an island by my fucking self.”
Looking back, the tenured MC recognizes his mistakes but took away some valuable lessons from the Def Jam era.
“This was before JAY-Z even got there,” he explained. “It was a shift and I didn’t know how to handle the shit. I should’ve stayed true to myself and been myself, but I didn’t and I was rotten to a lot of people up at Def Jam. There were some people up there deserved the shit. But I was rotten to a lot of people who did not fucking deserve it and I apologized for that shit, big time.”
Meth parted ways with Def Jam around 2006 and now, Meth is a bona fide Hip Hop legend. While sitting backstage at Red Rocks Amphitheater with his partner-in-crime Redman, they both reflected on that time with rose-colored glasses.
“Oh man, those were the days,” Meth said. “But then, we was like playing for the fucking Yankees, ’cause remember when the Yankees was just buying everybody contracts? Yeah, A-Rod, [Derek] Jeter, just everybody? Everybody was coming to the Yankees and shit. We had JAY-Z, Ja Rule and DMX, Joe Budden, Beanie Sigel, Kanye West.”
Redman, who signed with Def Jam in 1991, chimed in, “Ludacris, too! We was a super team.”
The subject then turned to West and his collaborative album with Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghosts. Meth drew parallels to ‘Ye’s relationship with Cudi to his own relationship with RZA.
“Good for Kanye and Kid Cudi,” Meth saud. “Good for them, ’cause that’s where it started. That’s his foundation right there, Kid Cudi. I think Cudi could bring that [the ‘old Kanye’] out of him. It’s like me getting back with RZA. It’s like something about that shit. It’s just something about it. It’s not even his beats.
“It’s just his presence alone brings something else up out of me and I write my best shit. And like I said, it don’t even have to be his beat. It’s just, that motherfucker, you know? It’s like just being around that nigga.”
Redman added, “Yeah, being around the RZA now, that’s where it started from. We’re just comfortable.”
Meth is currently the host of TBS’ Drop The Mic and is readying his sixth solo album Meth Lab II: The Lithium, while Redman is inching closer to releasing his ninth solo project Muddy Waters Too.