The imminent millennium has become the excuse in many sectors for things that don’t make sense, and hip-hop is no exception. On his sprawling second solo album, Tical 2000: Judgement Day (Def Jam), Wu-Tang mainstay Method Man rasps seductively about vague apocalyptic visions, tossing in bloated bits by Chris Rock, Janet Jackson, and Donald Trump for levity. Although Wu-Tang sonic architect RZA only produced a few cuts this time, the album retains his trademark murkiness, and Meth’s lyrics are amazingly convoluted–the only hard assertions I could make out were that he’s fed up with other rappers stealing his shit and that his morbid side is looking forward to a little pestilence. But his strangely elegant delivery will have you nodding in agreement even as you scratch your noggin. Though Meth’s labelmate and occasional collaborator Redman also invokes the millennium in the title of his fourth album, Doc’s da Name 2000, he’s nowhere near as grim about it–he remains a gruff, extroverted pottymouth concerned mostly with blowing smoke and getting blown. If he’s not ranting through a weedy haze (“This is your brain / This is my tape on drugs,” he shouts in “Jersey Yo!”), he’s prowling for sex, as in “Beet Drop,” a goof on the Beastie Boys’ “The New Style.” Earlier this year he went blatantly old-school as one third of the Def Squad, covering the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and Biz Markie’s “Just Rhymin’ With Biz” on El Ni–o (also on Def Jam), but hard-funk grooves strut all over his new album too, revealing his preference for Funkadelic classicism over Wu-Tang gloom or Puff Daddy’s plagiarism. And even if his clownish exuberance lacks staying power, it sounds fresh next to the tiresome chart-topping tropes of east-coast gangstas like Jay-Z and DMX. Tuesday, January 5, 7:30 PM (sold out), and Wednesday, January 6, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Redman photo by Nina Schulz; Method Man photo by J. Mannion.