Happy Birthday, Method Man!

It’s more than a little bit poetic that one of hip-hop’s greatest and most unhinged personalities celebrates his birthday on April Fools’ Day. Clifford Smith — the man known the world over as Method Man — turns 39 years old today, and he has plenty to celebrate, as just oversaw the release of Wu-Massacre, a collaboration between Meth and fellow Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface and Raekwon. It’s an incredible throwdown between three of the most talented rappers currently walking the Earth, featuring some of the finest Wu production work since … well, since Raekwon’s album last year (though “Our Dreams” ranks up there with some of RZA’s finest work).

Also known as Johnny Blaze, Hott Nikkelz, Iron Lung and the Ticallion Stallion, Meth has managed to use his incredible skill as an MC and his outgoing, explosive, vibrant personality to spin together an incredible career. He is responsible for some great, gritty bangers (including breakout hit “Bring the Pain”), mainstream pop hits (“I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By,” his Grammy-winning collaboration with Mary J. Blige) and everything in between (basically everything he has ever recorded with Redman). He has also picked up a reputation as an actor, most notably starring as Cheese Wagstaff on the instant-classic HBO series “The Wire.” He has also done memorable turns in films like “Garden State,” “Belly,” “The Wackness” and “How High.”

Though he’ll be best remembered for the incredible work he has done with the Wu-Tang Clan (both on official Wu albums and on members’ solo projects), perhaps his most consistently entertaining work has come with Redman. The pair have made two albums together (1999′s Blackout! and 2009′s Blackout! 2), co-starred in “How High,” had a sitcom (the short-lived Fox show “Method & Red”) and have cross-pollinated each others’ solo records for years. While he’s blowing out the candles on his cake or opening up a well-wrapped gift, his party guests should bob their heads to “A-YO,” a top-shelf track from Blackout! 2.

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