Coming Soon: Cormega

On October 29th, Hip Hop legend and Queens native Cormega returns to SOBs to perform songs from his new album ‘Born and Raised.’ Renowned for his ability to vividly describe the life and struggle of street life, Cormega has earned his stripes as one of the best MCs in the game. His most recent album has met critical acclaim with Hip Hop DX giving it a coveted multi-platinum (XXXX) rating.  All Hip Hop wrote “Cormega’s rich allusions and commanding narrative voice keep you engaged.”

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Album Cover

“This album is the truest look into me not just as an artist, but as a writer and as a person.  I came into my own in a lot of ways on this album,” Cormega explains. He describes his music as “mature and sophisticated, steep rap with feeling” not something that can be easily said about a lot of the music out today.  SOBs spoke with the Hip Hop veteran to talk about who he’d like to collaborate with, female MCs, giving back to the community and what it’s like to work with your heroes. Hit the jump to read more.

Cormega’s new album cover pays tribute to New York, the city where he was born and raised.  He often writes about life in the street, its difficulties and the limited options to those who live there.  Although sometimes overshadowed in the media by more scandalous topics like beefing with labels or other rappers, giving back to the community is just as much a part of who Cormega is as his success as an indepentdent artist. He has made it a point to stay a presence in a community that needs him. When asked about it, he defers, explaining “you don’t talk about because there’s nothing to talk about, you don’t do that for the kudos.” His friend, however, wanted to share with us how grateful he was for Mega’s generosity.

I’ve known Cormega from way back but we haven’t been in touch for a while. Somehow Cormega heard I didn’t have a place to stay. I have a newborn daughter. I didn’t reach out to him, he contacted me. He contacted me and helped me out, got me a place for me to stay. That’s just one example of his generosity.


Cormega got his start collaborating Nas, another Queensbridge alumni. After collaborating with Nas on “Affirmative Action,” Cormega left The Firm behind, and he and Nas went their separate ways. Mega went on to make his own solo album “The Testament,” in 1996. Def Jam shelved the album and didn’t release it. Cormega asked to be released from his contract and took his album with him, leading Vibe and Ego Trip to name it one of the best unreleased albums in hip hop history.

In 2000, he started his own label, Legal Hustle Records, he says out of necessity, “At the time, I was blacklisted in the industry. The powers that be were trying to stop me from releasing my music, so I had no choice but to put out my own music.” The decision was made out of frustration, but resulted in several critically acclaimed albums: The Realness (2001), The True Meaning (2002) Cormega Presents Legal Hustle (2004). In 2005, Cormega released “The Testament,” solidifying his position as an independent hip hop artist. Now, almost 15 years after creating “The Testament” Cormega is releasing his third official solo album, he admits, some things have changed:

I have a daughter now, I’m more mature. I’m more conscious of the words I use. I don’t say ‘bitch’ anymore, I don’t glorify the street or the violence. But my views haven’t changed. I still talk about the street.

cormega

Cormega

And he’s not the only thing that has changed since he started. Cormega weighs-in on how the game has changed:

It was tougher back then. Not just any one could rap, wack rhymes didn’t get recorded. Back then, NY was the measuring stick, if you could make it here, you were something. Now, things have shifted. Studios are getting more involved. [Before you had MC] Lyte, Salt & Pepa,. [Now] women don’t get the respect they deserve in rap. No upper level, respectable female [rap] artists.  Now there’s no substance, we have rappers singing about Halle Berry, grown men trying to make dance music… Lauryn Hill, [MC] Lyte, Queen Latifa. These women don’t get the respect they deserve as MCs. They deserve more respect. Women only get credit if they’re video vixens.

On his latest album, Cormega collaborated with artists like DJ Premier, Large Professor, Easy Mo Bee, Havoc, Buckwild, DR Period, LES, Nottz, Fuzzy Womack, Ayatollah, Khrysis and appearances by Big Daddy Kane, Parish Smith, Grand Puba, KRS-One, Tragedy, Havoc, Lil Fame, Marley Marl, and Red Alert.  Artists, he explains, he listened to and admired while aspiring to become a rapper himself. What is it like not only to meet your heroes, but to work alongside them as a peer? Mega agrees it’s not easy to describe “it’s excellent, I can’t explain it, it’s just magical.”

Even with his dream collaborations under his belt, Cormega is still going strong. His wish list for future collaborations include “Slick Rick, Scarface, Lauryn Hill, and a really dope reggae artist.” While he may finally be getting the shine he deserves, he’s clear he has no intention to return to the labels “[The labels] don’t respect culture. It’s too late for me to try to play that game.” And why should he? He’s been able to play the game on his own terms and now he’s winning, and shows no sign of stopping. Really dope reggae artists – your move.

Cormega – Rapture (prod. Ayatollah) (Thanks Nahright)

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2 Responses to “Coming Soon: Cormega”

  1. […] Footage: Cormega at SOBs Cormega and AZ perform the legendary Affirmative […]

  2. […] Lord Finesse in welcoming Styles P, Kid Capri, Immortal Technique, ChinahBlac, Mickey Factz, Cormega, and Eprhyme on the SOBs stage Thursday night. Doors are at 8, the show is at 9. Tickets are $30, […]

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