[Review] Method Man January 10th @ Sound Academy (Toronto)

On January 10, 2013, Five & Dime in partnership with Union Events presented LEGENDS: Method Man, live at The Sound Academy. This was Meth’s first visit back since his last appearance in Toronto in 2011. Attracting a crowd of various individuals, younger and older, male and female, the extensive lineup stretched entirely down Polson Street. With over 5,000,000 albums sold worldwide and 20+ years in the rap game, it was inevitable that fans were more than eager to see a true legend perform as they patiently waited to get inside.

Entering the venue, DJ Kaewonder could be seen on the turntables as he handled the music for the majority of the evening. Playing a wicked selection of several older hip-hop songs, artists such as Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Ghostface Killah & DJ Premier took over the speakers, which was very fitting considering the type of night it was going to be. Within an hour of the doors opening, the venue started to progressively fill up as projected. Enjoying the music, people started to stock up on alcohol while the audience conversed in groups as they waited for the night to get underway. The host for the evening was MC Sir Lancelot as he interacted well with the audience, urging us to get our drink on and to save the smoking for later. Ha! No doubt! It was now 10:15pm as DJ Kaewonder continued with smooth transitions, playing more classic cuts to the likes of many concertgoers who raised their hands high up in the air. Sir Lancelot kept everyone entertained, splitting the crowd into two sections; they were told to make noise as the lively audience responded, cheering energetically.

Kicking off the night was Toronto’s own Raz Fresco alongside his Bakers Club affiliate 6th Letter. Seeing Raz perform once before at the 2012 Stylus Awards with great stage presence, he brought that same mindset along with him as he opened up for Method Man. The 17 y/o producer/mc wasted no time, hitting the stage at 11pm with more than enough energy and heart. With support from 6th Letter, Fresco jumped into some tracks off his mixtape “Cakey Pocket$” which included “Blaze” and “It Don’t Stop”. Other songs performed included “Super Smash Bros” and the hit “Donald Trump”. Ending his performance with a set of freestyles, onlookers cheered as they showed their appreciation for Raz who did an excellent job warming up the crowd.

With most concerts containing several opening acts, it was a nice change to know that the headlining artist, Method Man was up next. As Sir Lancelot made his way back on stage with a drink in hand, he asked, “Y’all ready for the homie Meth?” Fans responded with a loud applause, excited to see the original Wu-Tang member live in concert. However, before Method Man came out, DJ Kaewonder blessed us with another short interlude of music before the legend took the stage.

As the main DJ took the stage, the lights darkened, while audience members held their cell phones in the air anticipating Method Man to emerge on stage. The DJ went on to say, “Let me see all y’all put your W’s up in the air”. As Wu-Tang hand symbols filled the sky, “Release Yo’ Delf” could be heard from the speakers. Hearing Method Man over the PA system, he hit the stage possessing more than enough liveliness. With an extensive catalog of tracks, those in attendance knew this night was going to be a one for the memory books. Wearing jeans, a red sweater and a black vest along with a unique hat, Meth took the stage by storm. Joined by rapper Streetlife, the next track performed was “The Prequel” which literally rang through the Sound Academy and is still considered to be one of my favorites to date.

Continuing with the performance, Method Man threw off his sweater, taking center stage he said “Okay, let’s see if y’all remember this shit. From the slums of Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan strikes again, The RZA, the GZA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef U-God, Ghost Face Killer and the Method Man”. He than performed the classic “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” to the likes of many individuals as they vigorously jumped up and down. Progressing forward, Meth did “Bring The Pain” which came off his debut album Tical. We all screamed for ice cream as “Ice Cream” echoed through the venue with crowd goers holding their arms high.

Stepping aside from the music, Method Man took a short break to talk to the audience saying, “I love Toronto, the T.O. is the closest thing to New York City, since New York City”. With everyone frantically cheering, Meth slowed things down a bit as he got into the song “All I Need” with supporting vocals coming from Streetlife and the DJ. Utilizing the entire stage, Method Man paced back and forth while performing “What The Bloodclot”. After the song he mentioned to us that he hates paparazzi but will gladly take fan pictures any day, as fans applauded in support. It was now just after midnight as rapper Streetlife could be seen spraying champagne into the crowd, as the two kept things moving with “Do You Really” with Method Man stage diving numerous times into the audience. After making his way back on stage (thanks to security) Meth took some more time to talk to the crowd, saying “Ayo Toronto, you know you must bring two things with you when you come to a Method Man show; weed and energy. The energy you give to me, is the energy I’m gonna give back to you”. This was evident as the concert showed no signs of slowing down, while more tracks were on the way.

Method Man than performed “How High” and another favorite of mine “I Get So High”. As fans chanted Wu-Tang several times, Meth went on to say “Can I get a suuuuu!!! Before saying, “This next song is the code that we live by” as he performed “The Motto”. Other bangers that followed included “Fall Out” and “A-Yo.” Also emerging on stage at this time was Toronto rapper Saukrates as he showed his appreciation towards Method Man and Streetlife, while also hyping the crowd up even more. Meth took one last break to talk to the audience telling us “All the songs performed so far have been for you, however the next song is for me!” True hip-hip heads could anticipate what was about to happen as “Da Rockwilder” took over the Sound Academy entirely. With the venue completely filled from front to back, fans erupted to the anthem track as every individual went ballistic, practically blowing the roof off the building. Stage diving into the crowd once again, Method Man was eventually held up by his feet, microphone in hand, as an amazing performance had finally come to an end.

Making his way back to the stage one last time Meth said, “Can I ask y’all a question, do I put on a good show?” This resulted in every person cheering which made it clear that even after 20+ years in the game, Method Man aka Johnny Blaze still has the drive and passion for his music.

After seeing Method Man perform for the first time, it is quite evident why he receives the respect he does. It was nice to see the appreciation he gave to the fans as well as the city of Toronto. Despite all the smoke, the energy in the building never faded as the artists and everyone involved that night put together a great show. Whether it was your first, second, third or fifth time, seeing the legend in person is truly an experience.

Review by: Mike Lavictoire

Photography by: Nicholas Telesca