Queens rapper Cormega will return with his fifth studio album Mega Philosophy on July 22nd , after a nearly five year hiatus.
Cormega is often described as one of the most underrated lyricists in hip-hop history. That appellation of “underrated” has always been curious though.
His 2001 debut The Realness was critically acclaimed , as was the rest of his official discography -- his 2002 followup The True Meaning, won the Source Independent Album of the Year Award--.
Still, despite consistently demonstrating acute technical ability; mainstream success has eluded Mega.
Philosophy’s lead single “Industry” posits that record execs are really the only ones underrating him.
I guess they have a problem with/ anything positive/ It doesn’t make sense/ If it doesn’t bring dollars in/
You’re living in the moment/ Feeling yourself/ They’re living in plush homes/What’s really success/ and what’s SWAG?/ I don’t care how you dress/or what you drive/I want rhymes/that really impress/
Cormega makes the case that the industry is on-tilt in a manner that forgoes musical quality for ....Well...... What you hear in supermarkets.
He’s really objectively correct, and knowing as much, he has always maintained creative control of his projects.
This ethos notoriously cost him his spot in The Frim; the hip-hop super-group which comprised of Cormega, Nas, AZ, Dr. Dre, and Foxy Brown. When Cormega refused to sign creative control of his career over to Nas and Def Jam exec Steve Stout, he was ousted and replaced on the album with Nature.
The Firm: The Album, sans Cormega, is widely regarded as one of the most disappointing releases of all-time.
Mega has amicably made amends with both Nas and Nature --Nature is even featured on the new album--, but he clearly has not turned a blind eye to the cynical nature of the current business.
In a recent interview, Cormega told AllHipHop.com about playing the new single to a “ shady record exec”. “He turned red and said he doesn’t like it, so I knew I had a nice revealing song.”
If there are still any anxious jitters from Mega supporters, some of those fears should be assuaged with a listen to the new pre-release stream of “Rap Basquiat”.
“Rap Basquiat” finds Mega in top form; riding the groove smoothly from the gate through the homestretch. Though in truth, the real sprint starts with the second verse. Here, doubling up the rhyme scheme impressively; Mega shows his deftness at linking bar-after-bar without break, while maintaining remarkable focus on the clarity of message.
Put your ear-plugs in for the last 20 seconds of the song though, as comedian Tony Rock -- Chris Rock’s brother -- starts yelling at you for not respecting true lyricists ; as if you didn’t just listen to a Cormega song until the end to even hear him.
Obviously, Tony Rock is just super-pumped about how dominant that verse was. But, more than that; he’s yelling it to anyone who can hear. And that’s how it feels to know truly profound, yet esoteric rawness... You want to yell at people.
One More Thing: I buried the lede intentionally --like Colombo-- to give a nice little take-home for hip-hop heads. That is, that the ENTIRE album is produced by Large Professor.
Mega Philosophy will be available July 22nd via Red Line Music Distribution. Check back for the full review.