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Mame Biram Diouf

Cormega - Mega Philosophy

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Mega_large.png

 

 

 

Very few Hip Hop artists have mastered the fine art of consistently delivering, while remaining on top.

 

Rapper Cormega is one such artist and I met with him earlier this week while he was in London at Tribe 7 Studios to hear about his forthcoming album entitled Mega Philosophyproduced by the Large Professor.

 

Cormega, one of the original Queensbridge Hip Hop pioneers has enjoyed success and longevity, achieving more in the rap game than many while retaining an independence that few have managed, hailing from an era and neighbourhood that is famed for producing artists like Nas, Mobb Deep and many others.

 

Combining raw powerful straight lyricism, with a trademark no frills delivery, Cormega’s music often reflects the trials and tribulations of life lived and breathed as seen through his eyes. More like a lyrical poet than a rapper, his lyrics often transcend tales of individual struggles to critically analyse the wider world, the lines often becoming blurred with wordplay and clever imagery.

 

Respected for remaining true to his roots, Cormega built up and sustained a solid fan base over the years, forming his own label Legal Hustle-while other artists hailing from the same era often drew much criticism.

 

Mega Philosophy is unlike my other projects. It’s produced entirely by the Large Professor. Among others it will include AZ, Styles P.”

 

I ask him what we can expect content wise from his new project.

 

“Among other things I would say it deals with how African people look at other African people in the wider world. It’s also gonna talk a lot about the (music) industry.”

 

This is interesting because whereas many mainstream artists have lost their shine Cormega didn’t.

 

“I’ve always questioned why other rappers fall off-I don’t think I will fall off.”

 

He also notes that longevity is not necessarily staying relevant; “Relevance is in the eye of the beholder”

 

Perhaps its this outlook that ultimately fuels his success as a writer. His own growth and maturity as an artist had always manifested in his work as avid fans can testify to.

 

Its refreshing too to hear first hand about Cormega’s past work in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake and his reasons for teaming up with Sean Penn’s charity-primarily because it didn’t seek publicity and has garnered respect as a genuine charitable force from the people while many others have been accused of pocketing Haiti’s aid money and seeking publicity.

 

He worked with several other artists including Redman and Stic man and created a track in aid of the cause and has been vocal in his support of the Haitian people.

 

Hip Hop at its best has always had artists more intent on pushing the boundaries of what is expected rather than playing the corporate game-Cormaga is certainly one of those artists.

 

Lessons he has learned from his many years in the rap game? “Don’t change who you are to be who they are”  He then pauses and passes me his phone and I listen to one of the tracks from the forthcoming album.  It’s unlike anything I’ve heard for a long time, and I have to say personally I am really looking forward to hearing the whole project-a far cry from the commercial bubble gum we are used to.

 

We talk about the UK and the fact that after many years he is warmly received by the people and that unlike other artists doesn’t need to walk around with body guards. He points out also that the UK Hip Hop scene is thriving without name dropping. What he does say is that he thinks the UK has the best vocalists at the moment.

 

To his UK fans he says simply; “I wanna thank everybody for the love they have shown it’s been humbling”

Mega Philosophy is due to be released this summer

 

 

 

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Cormega560.jpg

 

Being raised in the largest public housing development in North America can be a serious mind fuck. Nas once said, as a child growing up there, he felt "Queensbridge is the whole world," because of the numerous languages spoken on the blocks it's 96 buildings occupy.

 

It was in this maze of crack sales and violence that Corey "Cormega" McKay first began his journey to rap stardom. A lot has changed in Queensbridge, just as a lot has changed in 'Mega. His outlook on his purpose has grown exponentially. With a new album, Mega Philosophy (which is to be completely produced by Large Professor), due out shortly anda show at Knitting Factory Brooklyn on Friday Cormega is anxious to get his message out to the people. And rightly so. Peep the jewels he bestowed on us.

See also: Tweets is Watching - Let's Make Cormega ESPN's New Guest Tweeter For Knicks Games

 

 

So I heard you're done with the new album. Care to talk about that?

It's in its final stages just mixing and edits at this point. It's called Mega Philosophy. All production is being handled by Large Professor.

 

 

That sounds promising. How did that come about?

Well, the first time we worked together was on my album True Meaning. We had good chemistry and a good vibe. Then on my last solo joint Born and Raised, the feedback for "Journey" was so crazy we realized our chemistry was just that good together. I had started working on my next album and the stuff I got from him was so crazy we decided to do a whole album together.

 

 

What else can you tell us about the album?

There are a lot of surprises on there with some younger artists coming through.

 

 

So I heard this show is going to be your first in a good while. Why no shows in NYC?

Yeah it's been over a year. I usually do at least two or three shows a year [here] but while I was finishing this album I wanted to put all my energy into the project. I still did some overseas shows though, to further develop those markets.

 

 

What are some of those markets you're developing?

Well, right now London is my strongest overseas market. Germany also, and a few other spots in Europe. I want to expand more. I want to hit Africa just to touch the soil and breathe the air. I want to hit Japan too. In America there are so many great artists you'll never hear because of radio play lists. I go overseas and I see Boot Camp Clik, Jeru, Wu Tang... that's what they respect over there. Matter of fact, last time I was in London some of the people that was on the radio over here were getting shitted on. Like bad. It was to the point I didn't even want to be a part of the convo because I don't want to be labeled a hater. Here in America even if a fan says something about the state of hip-hop he's a hater. Overseas they say that shit. They'll be like, "So and so is wack!"

 

 

Speaking of traveling and connecting, how did you link with The Jacka out in The Bay? That "More Crime" joint still gets play in my office a few times a week!

I met Jacka before The Realness came out. In 2000 they flew me out to The Bay and I recorded with Mob Figaz. More importantly we got close, and through the years we kept in touch. I would never go to The Bay without checking in with them while I'm out there. That's like my family.

 

 

So I read somewhere you were some sort of boxing champ upstate when you were locked up?

Yeah, I was a boxing champ and I could probably still go a round or two [laughs]. That was something I could have done but the only thing that stopped me was that record deal. Boxing is a lot of training. You can't even have sex when you boxing. I had just done four years, I wasn't about to not have sex. But sometimes that is my one regret, that I didn't at least try to do both. Boxing was my other love, but I went the rap route.

 

 

So do you still live in NYC?

No, I live upstate. I've had a house up there since 2001. I live upstate but I'm in the city all the time. People think I still live in QB because I get so much love in the street. Honestly though, I haven't lived in the Bridge since the early '90s. When It Was Written came out in 1996 I already had a coop on Queens Blvd. with a doorman. But I still chilled in QB everyday because that's what I knew, that was where I hustled mostly, those were my stomping grounds.

 

 

You still in The Bridge everyday?

I still come through but I realized being there everyday, after a while, it weighs on you. You got to know your boundaries. So many of my friends were dying and going to jail that there were times I could've been entangled in these situations. Meanwhile I'm trying to rap so I had to ask myself what was more important. If the cops roll up and the people on the block I'm chilling with throw their drugs on the floor, when the cops ask who the drugs belong to everybody goes silent. Now I'm wrapped up in this shit. For what? What am I getting out of that? "Oh Mega be in the hood." Who cares?

 

 

Good point. So eventually you just outgrew it.

Yeah, you're growing, you're changing, but people can't embrace your change because they haven't accepted their own growth. When you're physically trapped in the hood, that's one thing. But psychologically trapped is a whole other beast. It was because of that I had to check myself.

 

 

Was there anything in particular you can touch on that made you draw that line?

Well, this is for the Village Voice so without turning this into a F.E.D.S. article I can only say I started hearing my name in things that I had absolutely nothing to do with. And not minor things either. So i had to take myself out of that element. One other thing, though, was when I went to visit my man who was doing 27 years. I brought my daughter with me. The visit was over and my man is sad now because he's got to say goodbye to us and it's back to his reality. I brought my daughter with me so I could imagine myself in his predicament. I never want to see my daughter leave me after a visit so that feeling right there has kept me out of a lot of trouble and has kept me focused.

 

 

Why do you think as soon as you stop talking about your beef with Nas and start talking about growth, radio and media stop checking for you?

That's easy. The industry doesn't highlight growth. I can make a diss record, have a fight at the club and the next day it's everywhere. But I go to Haiti to do fundraisers after the earthquake and no one even knows. And not just me, rap in general is never highlighted for something positive. It boils down to race. The media does not want the American black man to be in a positive light. I see how they try to do to me, my people, my art... They try to portray us as one dimensional. They don't care about art or the people.

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pos'd for that cormega is a real dude

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and he had the illest gun in the hood

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top 5 NY rappers for me. the realness/testament/true meaning all classics... his career could've been so much more

 

but i haven't really felt anything since that album with lake. like all those old QB guys his time has passed 

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mega i hope you blow so im saying your name

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top 5 NY rappers for me. the realness/testament/true meaning all classics... his career could've been so much more

 

but i haven't really felt anything since that album with lake. like all those old QB guys his time has passed 

 

Born and Raised still gets bumped now

 

Hard

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all these people/labels that aren't around anymore chris lighty rip, rawkus, violator the games changed man.

 

/

 

born&raised was a good album man i wish these dudes were earning more money like drake money oh well

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gonna go back and bump mega, one of my low key favs

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Album dropped

 

Gonna bang it out later

 

Intro went in though

 

Feeling positive about this

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As Mega states with this new album, "Hip-Hop used to be journalistic; people spoke on what they saw and what they felt. So much has happened in the last few years, but a lot of artists aren't talking about anything.

 

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gonna go back and bump mega, one of my low key favs

 

u say it like he's some shit any rapper lol

 

mega>>>>>>___

 

one of the realest street rappers out of all time imo

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mega i hope you blow so im saying your name

 

MEGA

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Ayo Mega you wanna be a gangsta? Theres real gangsta
sh*t going on in the streets man, yo niggas is in the grind
Where you be at man? Niggas be bucking
Why you never bucking, where you be at man?
All of a sudden you the motherf*ckin Nino Brown of the f*cking hood
Its disgusting man, stay out the magazines
Keep my name out your motherf*cking mouth
Theres no more room for jealousy, we destroying and rebuilding
That means the cowards get out and the real niggas stay
Niggas been hating me since I been nine, shining
with suede motherf*cking balles on in silks
I'ma always be the young don, dont be like the niggas on the other side
Hating me cause I'm beautiful, real niggas in Queensbridge
You niggas come up and get this money and move on baby
Q.B.
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One of my favourite songs on the tape

Love the album, will do a breakdown soon

Amazing growth from mega though

Very impressed, am gonna purchase the cd

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One of my favourite songs on the tape

Love the album

Amazing growth from mega though

Very impressed, am gonna purchase the cd

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feels like the best Hip Hop album I've heard in years

 

mega >>

 

 

most underrated 

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This still gets rotated now too

A lot of wisdom and knowledge is shared on this

The fact he isn't more widely regarded and most people my age don't even know who he is, is very saddening tbh

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Doing a 2016 tour next year to celebrate 15 years since The Realness

Coming to the UK

I am there 100%

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Not saying he can't rap but his music bores me to death

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