Method Man, whose real name is Clifford Smith, was born on Long Island, New York. He split his time growing up between there are Staten Island, New York City.
Method Man is an adherent of the Nation of Gods and Earths, or the Five Percent Nation of Islam. He appeared in a video, along with other black musicians, which promoted a book about the history of that religion and its founder Clarence 13X. Method Man said,
You want some true life right here? This is true life. . . . Ain’t nothing realer than the Father [Clarence 13X].
He isn’t as vocal as fellow Wu Tang member the Rza about his devotion to his faith, and I was hard-pressed to find much in his lyrics about the Five Percenters or Allah, but some of it might be more subtle than that. In Five Percenter imagery, Suns and Earths can refer to family–including the larger religious family. In his song, “All That I Need,” Method Man uses the terms to describe him and his wife:
Then I can be your Sun, you can be my Earth/ Resurrect the God through birth/ Best believe
Maybe his religion fits so snug into his daily life that he doesn’t need to talk about it too much in public, or maybe people just don’t ask much. But I don’t think we should doubt that Method Man has a strong faith.
That stuff don’t reach far enough down
Method Man is mostly non-political, but not because he doesn’t care. He just doesn’t think politics has much of an effect on the poor neighborhoods where he grew up. He said changing presidents brought no changes to his neighborhood, except for Ronald Reagan’s economic policies:
I stay the hell away from politics. . . that stuff don’t reach far enough down for me. I ain’t never seen the effects of Bill Clinton, I ain’t seen the effects of George Bush. I seen the effects of Reaganomics, snatched the whole heart out of the Hood.
But what about Obama? After all, he was able to rally the black American community in a way no white president ever did. Just before the 2008 election, speaking of his childhood home, a neighborhood with high unemployment, crime, and poverty, Method Man said,
I wish Obama the best, I’m very proud of the brother. . . . [But] you know where Obama would get me to get my ass to vote. . . if I seen his ass in Park Hill.
He said politicians don’t understand “the plight of the ghetto,” that kids are shooting each other in the streets for nothing. He even said, “If McCain brought his ass to the mothafuckin’ hood, he’d get my vote. Straight up.”
Maybe his lack of faith in government is what prompted him to stop paying his taxes for a few years–an act (or lack of action) which earned him a date in court. Maybe that makes him a libertarian.
But even though his support of the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage would agree with the libertarian viewpoint, his reasoning for it makes him sound more like a liberal Democrat:
The way the world is going right now, it’s a beautiful thing because it’s way more tolerant and there’s way more open-minded people. . . . I love the way the world is changing right now.
When it comes down to it, I don’t think Method Man thinks government and politicians can’t solve the problems of the ghetto, it’s just that they won’t. It sounds like Congress could take a pointer or two from the rapper:
You gotta meet some type of common where everybody says, enough is e-fuckin’-nough. . . . I don’t like you but we’re gonna sit down at this table and come up with a solution. Our babies is dying.
A History of Clarence 13X (Allah) and the Five Percenters. ↩︎
The GODS Of Hip-Hop: A Reflection On The Five Percenter Influence On Rap Music & Culture. ↩︎
Reminder: Method Man Is Also in Favor of Gay Marriage, Maybe(?). ↩︎