Method Man has been on his own for some time now, since his 1994 solo debut Tical. But it’s his friendships that seem to bring out the best in him—or maybe it’s the adrenaline rush of cutthroat competition. 2009’s Blackout 2!, Meth’s collab with musical soulmate/smoking buddy Redman, brought it back to basics with big hooks, funky breakbeats, and chest-beating braggadocio. Last year’s Wu-Massacre—the three-way split with Method Man, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah—is a sturdy template of spare beats and tag-teamed rhymes. The record thrives on the natural chemistry among the three: Ghostface Killah’s excitable ranting, Raekwon’s smoothness, and Method Man’s combination of raspy humor and middle-aged grumpiness. Speaking of music that thrives on collaboration, Method Man is currently on the road with the 2011 Smokers Club Tour.