When Method Man dropped his mid-90s single “P.L.O. Style,” some fans were puzzled by the Wu Tang Clan member’s abrupt foray into Middle Eastern politics. Named after the embattled Palestinian Liberation Organization, Method’s track has always been more than just a gritty and bass-saturated strut session.
Considered a terrorist organization by both the United States and United Nations until 1991, the P.L.O. moved past its legacy of organized attrition wars against Israel into a more political, diplomacy-oriented group. Still, vast amounts of bloodshed, both random and shrewdly organized, has been inflicted and endured by its members, leadership and satellite supporters. To simplify a bit (alright, a lot), the P.L.O.’s strife with Israel is and always has been about territory, respect and the kind of steadfast motivation that only group ideology can bring (this goes for both sides). This strife often led to the brandishing of guns and manufacture of violent imagery. For Method to wade into such deep and turbulent waters with a track like “P.L.O. Style” seemed to some brave and others foolhardy, but the MC’s true inspirations for the track have always been murky–until now.
In a brand new recorded interview with journalist filmmaker Sama’an Ashrawi, Method spoke quickly but in depth about what it was that he saw in 90s Palestinian imagery. The Wu Tang leader and his friends, he recalls, used to frequent a pro-P.L.O. store in their Staten Island neighborhood, and often caught glimpses of intimidating, gun-toting figures in photos taken in Palestine and put up proudly on display at the shop. “The same way Wu Tang respected how the kung fu dudes was doing their thing and shit, we respected how the P.L.O.s got down,” Method says in the clip. “They’re freedom fighters and we felt like we were fighting for our freedom everyday, too, where we lived at.”
Method’s comments about the parallels between the struggle for minority justice in both America and Palestine come at a very contentious time. Across the countries late last year protests and rallies were held in the name of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other victims of unjust police violence, and at those rallies numerous banners flew calling for the liberation of Palestine and rollback of Israeli settlements. Currently figures including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Lupe Fiasco, scientist Stephen Hawking and more have either expressed their displeasure with Israeli policy or supported Palestinian liberation outright. While Method Man’s comments don’t go so far as to call for a free and unmolested Palestine, it’s now clear that Middle Eastern issues were plenty present and affective in the creation of one of the MC’s greatest tracks. Watch the full interview below.