Cormega :: The Realness :: Landspeed Records
as reviewed by Mr. S

Cormega is the very definition of someone who has been screwed over by the record industry. Upon his release from prison, he was slated to be a member of Nas's supergroup The Firm. Reports basically conflict as to what happened, but from Mega's own mouth, Steve Stoute was pissed that Mega wouldn't sign with him and started dicking him over, so he quit. But that was all good, because he had a record deal with the biggest and best label in hip hop history, Def Jam. But again, he got screwed over by the political side of the music business, and his album "The Testament," never got released. All of this time he had rebuilt his rep by numerous guest spots and mixtape appearances and the anticipation for a Cormega album was huge. And this year he finally hit us with it. He attacks the opening track in a manner befitting it's title, "Dramatic Entrance." Mega rips it up, saying:

"No more to say, words can't explain
Like Rich Porter's grave
This is a ghetto monument
My confidence more apparent... I'm too ill
Lyrically, I feel I'm too real."

Being "real" is a consistent theme throughout. The second cut is "American Beauty," which while ill, loses serious points because it is a straight jack of Common's concept on "I Used To Love H.E.R." Lyrically proficient, but... I don't know, you can't just take a concept like this, not alter it at all, and expect to get full respect for it. The beat flips the same sample used on Jadakiss's "Show Discipline."

Prodigy shows up on "Thun & Kiko" and drops one of the few good verses I've heard from him since H.N.I.C. He steals the show, with his verse obviously taking some subliminal shots at Jay-Z:

"You's a notebook crook, with loose leaf beef
A backseat criminal who pass the heat
To somebody that blast the heat
Man, it sound bad on the pad
What happened in the street?
A feeling on the vinyl, an analog outlaw."

Cormega certainly doesn't pass up the opportunity to take some subliminal shots as well. Though his are directed at Nas: "Who's tale you tellin? Are you frail or felon?/Was you making sales or watching niggas selling?/ You exploit niggas lives in your rhymes and then avoid em/You never felt the moisture in the air from coke boiling." This track is dope all around, from the hard hitting lyrics to the beat.

But the subject of Nas is one of this album's downfalls. If Mega had just kept it to one diss, fine. But he rides Nas consistently through the album, making numerous subliminal disses to him throughout, and it gets real old.

The whole album is heartfelt, and songs like "The Saga," "R U My Nigga?," "Fallen Soldiers" (particularly the Alchemist remix) and "They Forced My Hand" particularly so, but ultimately the album is unsatisfying. I think this album got overrated simply because people were happy to finally get a Cormega album. It's not bad by any means, but there are some glaring problems. For one, Cormega's flow and cadence get old; they're cool for about 3 or 4 songs but then it just starts getting boring listening to his monotonous voice. And the beats, while definitely "street" sounding are surprisingly soft with the exception of "Get Out Of My Way." Other than a couple more there aren't any tracks that you can just turn up and BUMP.

Basically, Cormega got cred for making a "real" hip hop album. He obviously made this album for himself, and he gets mad respect for that. But his continual talk about how he is the realest in rap gets old; okay, there are plenty of real cats out there, that doesn't make you a good MC, so you don't have to touch on the fact that you were a real hustler/criminal in EVERY single track. I was anticipating this album as much as anyone, but after listening to it a few times I realized that Cormega is much better suited to being an honorary member of Mobb Deep: come in, blaze a verse every once in a while, and that's cool. And pretty much every song on this album is tight as a stand-alone but after holding down an albums worth of tracks basically by himself, Mega's style just gets old. He may be realer than Nas - good for him - but that doesn't mean he's anywhere near him as an MC.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: October 20, 2001