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Ol’ Broke Eye is back. Or the Ticalian Stallion. Or the Iron Lung. Or Johnny Blaze. Or whatever you want to call him. He certainly doesn’t seem to care much, and apparently neither does the American public. The Wu Most Often Known as Method may not be the most lyrically sharp of the almost unbelievably talented Wu-Tang Clan, but he’s got charisma to burn, and he knows how to use it. Few other MCs can bust out a smile as often as a scowl and keep both their street game and their pop smarts, and in a genre when careers can begin and end in a hockey season, late 1998 sees Meth releasing his second solo joint near the top of the pop charts four years after his first. Tical 2000: Judgement Day seems to have the world at its feet saleswise, but you have to chalk it up to pure personality, because after the mid-’90s brought astonishing albums from Ghostface Killah, Genius, and Raekwon, 2000 is something of a disappointment. The title track single is admittedly a scorcha. Produced by Meth himself, “Judgement Day” moves at the speed of light and sounds as if the apocalypse is around the corner. But that’s where the revelations pretty much end. Instead of bringing a diverse palette of sounds to wrap around his blunted growl, the tracks sound solid, professional, and uninspired. Wu records often feel like one big party track, and Meth puts his man Streetlife on, as well as obligatory and way-perfunctory appearances from Wu’s Cappadonna and the perennially underrated Inspektah Deck; but even they seem to be running a bit on empty. So grab doubles of the 12-inch and save the whole thing for when it’s the last record on earth.—Joe Gross