The beef with Nas is long done, but there was always a lot more to Cormega than just a simple battle. To illustrate this he’s releasing a three-plus hour DVD on his life come November. This week RapReviews caught up with the Queensbridge legend to discuss some of those life stories that most folks have never heard before.
Adam Bernard: Your name always seems to come up a lot when people are talking about beef. Why do you think that is?
Cormega: I don’t know. I think that’s just a stigma that’s been attached to my name because I really don’t be having too many differences with artists. People might be under the misconception that I had differences with some people, but I don’t know.
AB: How much do you feel putting the Nas beef behind you and doing that show has changed you as a person?
Cormega: I don’t know if it changed me as a person I just think it made me realize how bad the fans wanted to see me and Nas together and how much they really appreciated that. It was me, Nas and Foxy but everybody keeps talking about Nas and me and so many people hit me up about “we want you and Nas to do a song together”. I had a lot of different people who don’t even know each other say the same thing and that’s what was crazy to me. People said they had goosebumps. So it’s like I’m glad I made somebody’s day. The feeling of elation that the crowd had that day and that they generated was something I had never felt ever in my life. That was incredible.
“These situations show that Hip-Hop is here and people are willing to buy it, the consumer is looking for it, they just ain’t getting it.”
AB: When an artist does something that major it usually changes them a little and that change is usually evident in the music they create. How do you feel your music’s changed since that event?
Cormega: I don’t think that influenced my music in any way. It ain’t like I had any diss records towards him in years. The only change you’re gonna hear in my music is the likelihood of me and him doing music. That’s the biggest change, the change that everybody wants. Other than that I think life events influence my music, period. Like my daughter being here influences my music a lot. Just events around the world, like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina influence my music. And the state of Hip-Hop alone, I know I got an uphill battle because this ain’t the day of reckoning for people that are considered MCs and lyricists, it’s like we’re the underdogs right now. I know there’s a challenge ahead of me, but I look forward to it. People are saying Hip-Hop is dead but there is no Hip-Hop out there to support that statement because there’s not enough Hip-Hop being made. Common was number one, Talib was number two. These situations show that Hip-Hop is here and people are willing to buy it, the consumer is looking for it, they just ain’t getting it. I know what I’m about to give them is Hip-Hop. I don’t know what I’m gonna sell, but I know I’m not gonna sell out. I’m gonna give them everything that they’re expecting from Cormega.
AB: Where an artist is in their career often dictates what their goals are for their work. As a veteran in the music industry, what are your goals for your work in 2007 other than simply bringing a quality Hip-Hop album to the people?
Cormega: The “Who Am I?” DVD is gonna be the biggest thing I do within the next few months. I think it’s gonna give people a different insight into who I am. It’s not one of those DVDs where I just sit there and talk about myself and try to make myself seem like I’m the illest person in the world, I let everybody else do their talking and I wasn’t there for none of the interviews so I let people talk freely. I got Marley Marl, Tragedy, Nature, Screwball, a lotta people from Queensbridge, a lotta people that grew up with me in the streets, from Brooklyn, from The Bronx, from wherever. So you’re gonna see me in a different light and you’re gonna see some of the things that define me as a person as opposed to the person that they think they know. As you said earlier, my name is always attached to some beef shit, or they think they know me but they don’t really know me, so on this DVD you’re gonna get a pretty good look of who I am.
“For somebody like Marley Marl to say “Mega was the original gangsta rapper from Queensbridge,” to hear that was humbling.”
AB: Did anyone’s comments about you surprise you at all?
Cormega: To be honest with you a lot of people’s comments humbled me. If somebody says they like apples and somebody else says they like cherries and somebody else says they like plums that’s one thing, but everybody was saying the same exact things and they weren’t near each other and they weren’t filmed on the same day. For me to hear that kind of humbled me like you got people in there, like straight street dudes saying Meg got a good heart. That made me proud of myself, that people would even think that way about me. And it surprised me that certain people gave me the respect that they give me as an artist. There are certain things that you know about yourself or that you think, but it would be your ego telling you that, but Marley Marl on there said Mega created street rap in Queensbridge. That’s something I could have said myself and people would have looked at me like I’m crazy, or like I’m feeling myself, but for somebody like Marley Marl to say “Mega was the original gangsta rapper from Queensbridge,” to hear that was humbling.
AB: With that in mind, and with a comment like Marley Marl’s having been said, what do you feel you have left to prove in Hip-Hop?
Cormega: I think I have a lot to prove. I’m not oblivious to reality. I know I’ma be like one of those rappers that never get his props until, unfortunately, after he’s dead or something. I know that. People always use excuses or try to not give the props that I might feel I deserve. There’s a lot of things that I did musically that people don’t talk about, they just talk about the negative stuff. Even me and Nas squashed our beef, think about it, you didn’t see that in no magazines, and that was big. When we had beef people was offering me features. Look at the whole rap game, how do new artists get hot right now? They make mixtapes and they develop their buzz. I’m the first rapper that ever made a mixtape with no record out. XXL magazine did a review on one of my mixtapes in 1999 and that wasn’t even my first mixtape. I’ve been doing this shit. There’s people like Eric Nicks, he’s big up at Universal and he used be an A&R at Def Jam on my project, he knows I had a mixtape out in 97 with no album out. Nobody was doing that. But nobody gives me props for that, they just talk about oh Mega did this, Mega did that, in the street. Then you got the independent game. Niggas from New York wasn’t going indie. There were a couple of artists, Freddie Foxx was going indie and E-Moneybags, those were the only two artists I knew that were independent and they had their own type of audience. When I went independent it went to a whole nother realm. Now everybody’s going independent. A few years ago I was recognized, they gave me an impact award at the Underground Hip-Hop Awards saying that I had one of the biggest impacts on the independent game. But people don’t talk about that. I opened up a whole lane for a lot of people. Jadakiss asked me about the independent game years ago and I was giving him jewels. I took Foxy Brown over to Koch. She didn’t even know Koch. So there are a lot of things that I do that I’ll never get the props for because people just always look at the negative.
“You gotta understand, 85% of minorities that are in wheelchairs between the ages of 18 and 36 are from gunshot wounds.”
If I get in trouble at a club or get into a fight they’ll talk about that, but they won’t talk about how Mega took the whole hood to Great Adventure and paid for it, or they won’t talk about how Mega went to Riker’s Island and did shows for the kids, or they won’t talk about how Cormega went to Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital and showed love to people that’s paralyzed from gunshot wounds. You gotta understand, 85% of minorities that are in wheelchairs between the ages of 18 and 36 are from gunshot wounds. I went to Goldwater Hospital and they caught that on film and I’m glad that they did so people can see what it is in there and you can see me and I got a dude in a wheelchair rapping on my DVD. Those are the things that bring me joy. One thing I like about myself that my publicist Jacki O said, the stuff that I’m saying, she said “these are the things that you people need to know about Cormega because you think you know him but you don’t.” She was talking about how when I did the Great Adventure trip I didn’t put that in press and when you look at my DVD there are people talking about the Great Adventure trip, but there’s no footage of it. There’s footage of everything else, though, and that was done on purpose because when I did the Great Adventure trip I wasn’t doing it for publicity, I wasn’t doing it to show the world that, I just did it from the heart and that was the beautiful thing about it. I learned a lot about myself from this DVD and from my friends and from the last few years, it was a helluva journey for me.
AB: Who would you like to affect most with this project?
Cormega: To be honest with you I think I am affecting people already. I get a lot of comments on MySpace from people telling me my music helped them get through tough times and that’s something that I never realize. When I was making music I was just spitting how I was feeling, spitting what I was seeing, or spitting what I was going through, I never thought that my music would be able to translate into something that could help a white kid that’s in Arizona or a Spanish kid that’s in Ecuador, or a French kid in Paris, or a kid in Africa, or a kid in Japan. I never knew that the music could affect that many people. On the DVD gonna see me at my best and you’re gonna see me at my worst. It’s so much hard work being independent and I want people to understand that. Don’t come into the game with the ego and with the diva-ness like everybody has to cater to you. This is all work and you get what you give. I want people to get that from the DVD, and to not be afraid to be yourself. One thing about me is I have fun. The one thing that always bugged me out about rappers is you see so a lot of them walking around mad at the world with so many chips on their shoulders like they’re so tough, but these niggas ain’t even been through what I’ve been through. I’m like what are these niggas so mad about? These niggas had it good, a lot of these rappers. I’ve been in jail for real. You got rappers that do a year in a county jail, or in a local jail and they come home like they just did a Nelson Mandela bid. That’s not a bid, in jail we call that a skid bid, that’s like a baby bid. I did almost four years and the only reason I came home from that was that I came home on appeal. I had five to fifteen years in a state correctional facility. I survived that. I’ve been in the streets. I’ve been shot, I’ve been in shoot outs, I’ve dealt drugs, and this ain’t me glorifying, this is me telling you the situations I was in.
“I want everyone to see that you can be in these situations, you can be fucked up, and still come back and be what you want to be.”
So I want everyone to see that you can be in these situations, you can be fucked up, and still come back and be what you want to be, or you can at least strive to be what you want to be. You might not make it to that top floor but if you make it in the middle and as long as you’re off the ground you’re good. I know I inspire a lot of people that’s in jail right now. I’m the first rapper in history to ever come home from jail and get on that you’d never heard rap before. Prior to that when you’re in jail your mentality is fucked, it’s oppressive because the CO’s look down on you. You think I can’t get a job because I have a criminal record, so all you think about is the next crime you’re gonna do but how you’re NOT gonna get arrested. You don’t think about chasing your dreams because you don’t think you can make it, so when people saw me make it as a rapper that inspired a lot of people to come home and rap. I know that because they told me that. And from the DVD I want people to not be afraid to be themselves. You’re gonna see me joking and laughing on my DVD, I’m not afraid to laugh, I’m not afraid to be myself, I’m not afraid to smile because that doesn’t take my gangster away. Be yourself, live your life and enjoy life. If you live your life mad every day what if your shit ends next week? That means you were mad most of your life. Enjoy life, man. That’s all.