Sunday, December 04, 2005

"I'm eager to find my equal at rhyming..."

For an artist who has collaborated (either production-wise or vocally) with the likes of Large Professor, Ghostface, Nas, Mobb Deep, MOP, Kurupt, Alchemist and Hi-Tek, not to mention his shout-out on 'Illmatic', Corey "Cormega" McKay still has a relatively low profile, despite a 4-album catalog and endless guest appearances from NYC to the Bay. Any wack motherfucker can jump on a track with Nas and attempt to rip it, but the fact that Cormega has exhibited immense lyrical prowess on more tracks than I can count makes his almost inexistence from Hip-Hop consciousness all the more shocking. Let's get things straight, 'Mega does push serious numbers indie-wise and has a healthy army of fans from every corner of the globe, but there is no shortage of even 'enlightened' heads dozing on his shit.

Bursting onto the scene in the mid-90s, Cormega appeared on fellow QB comrade Nas' "Affirmative Action", and consequently joined The Firm, Nas' answer to a Hip-Hop supergroup consisting of himself, 'Mega, AZ and Foxy Brown. However, 'Mega was unceremoniously dumped in favour of Nature for reasons unclear ('Mega's unwillingness to sign a production deal is cited by himself, but Nas' preference for Nature is spoken of by others). As a consequence, Cormega landed a deal with Violator/Def Jam and recorded 'The Testament'. Unfortunately, the album was shelved, yet it had lit a fire amongst industry insiders and everybody and his mother was claiming to be in possession of a copy. 1996-2001 was a quiet period for 'Mega musically, excepting the scathing 'Fuck Nas and Nature' record he penned and fed to the streets. However, 'Mega should've known better than to take on Nas, who obviously had the money and resources to produce a killer response, "Destroy and Rebuild", which appeared on the otherwise rather poor 2001 album 'Stillmatic'. Yet by this time, 'Mega had already dropped his "debut" album 'The Realness' on Landspeed Records, and was clearly unfazed by the prospect of every Nas dickrider from the US to Russia sniggering at his efforts. Regardless, the 'Mega/Nas beef was squashed earlier this year, anyway.

Although 'Mega was - as ever - on point lyrically for the bulk of 'The Realness', I'm not a personal lover of the album, despite it carrying two of my favourite Cormega joints - "American Beauty" and "They Forced My Hand". My real interest in Cormega was sparked upon the release of the 2002 album 'The True Meaning'. This album was altogether more polished, and truly reflected 'Mega's position as a dealer-cum-rapper and other hardships, not least his experience of having seen his own mother shot to death. 2004 saw the release of 'Legal Hustle' on Koch, which was he subject of mixed opinions. Personally, I think it's dope, and tracks 1-8 represent what could be the dopest succession of tracks appearing on any album in the new millennium. It was marred, however, by the over-appearances of 'Dona', some bitch 'Mega signed to his label and was trying to showcase. She holds her own for the first 2 or 3 tracks, but then becomes a bit sameish. But everytime I think that, I just shut the fuck up and remind myself that "Beautiful Mind" is easily one of my favourite tracks of all time, despite it being immersed right amongst an overdose of Dona and other nondescripts.

Fortunately, 'The Testament' finally saw the light of day and was released early this year on 'Mega's own Legal Hustle label. Although he has clearly evolved lyrically over the years - more notably in the increasing inclusion of more personal, introspective material as heard on 'The True Meaning' and 'Legal Hustle -, this is still light years ahead of 90% of anything released in 2005 (fuck Kanye, fuck Paul Wall, fuck Juelz), so go and cop it. With the beef squashed between him and Nas, here's to hoping 'Mega spits fire on the Nasdaj/Dow Jones bullshit Nasir has slated for release.

62 Pickup
American Beauty
Verbal Graffiti
Beautiful Mind
Bring it Back

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