Cormega: His Legacy and Impact in Hip-Hop


Cory McKay, known by his stage name Cormega, is an American rapper born on December 3, 1970. He first gained attention when fellow rapper Nas gave him a shoutout in the song “One Love,” featured on the critically acclaimed 1994 album Illmatic. With a decades-long career, Cormega has become a respected figure in the rap world for his unique style and dedication to the genre’s roots. His music provides raw and lyrical accounts of life in Queensbridge Houses of Queens, NY, often reflecting on his experiences with gritty realism.

Cormega’s discography comprises eight studio albums, two compilation albums, one extended play, and 11 singles. Over the years, he has collaborated with influential artists such as Mobb Deep, Tragedy Khadafi, and AZ. One notable collaboration was his feature on Nas’ song “Affirmative Action” in 1996, where he joined AZ and Foxy Brown to form the rap group, The Firm.

His debut studio album, The Realness, released in 2001, showcased his skills as a lyricist and storyteller. With production from Havoc of Mobb Deep, J-Love, and The Alchemist, the album gained a dedicated following, garnering praise for its authentic portrayal of street life and personal struggles. As Cormega’s career has evolved, he has continued to maintain his ’90s rap realness, producing music that resonates with both old-school fans and newer generations.

Early Life and Influences


Cormega, born Cory McKay, grew up in Brooklyn, New York City, before being raised in Queens. He was childhood friends with several future successful rappers, such as Nas, Havoc, and Capone. A common theme in Cormega’s music is the tragic experiences of losing friends and family to violence.

Musical Inspirations

Cormega’s early exposure to hip-hop began as a child in the Queensbridge housing projects. This environment was home to a generation of rappers, including Nas, Mobb Deep, AZ, and Tragedy Khadafi, as well as a previous generation that featured Marley Marl and the Juice Crew. His first interaction with the music industry came when he was mentioned by Nas in his song “One Love” from the critically acclaimed album Illmatic while serving time in prison. This shout-out, along with his upbringing and personal experiences, influenced and shaped Cormega’s musical style and career.

Career Development

First Breakthrough

Cormega, born as Cory McKay on December 3, 1970, is an American rapper who gained attention after being mentioned by Nas in his song “One Love” from the 1994 critically acclaimed album, Illmatic. This shout-out kicked off his career in a significant way, and he started releasing music to make a name for himself. Cormega has continued to develop his unique sound and style, reflecting on his life experiences and perspectives.


Throughout his career, Cormega has collaborated with multiple artists and producers. He has worked with legendary rapper and producer Marley Marl, who nicknamed him “the original gangsta rapper from Queensbridge.” This relationship highlighted Cormega’s abilities for storytelling through his lyrics, making him a respected artist in the hip-hop community.

In addition to Marley Marl, Cormega has teamed up with various influential artists and groups in the music industry, such as Mobb Deep and Nas. These collaborations have allowed him to evolve his sound and further establish his reputation as a captivating lyricist and a dedicated advocate for hip-hop culture.


Solo Albums

Cormega’s solo career consists of eight studio albums, showcasing his lyrical talent and commitment to the rap game. Some of his notable works include:

  • The Realness (2001): Cormega’s debut solo album and a critical success, featuring collaborations with prominent artists like Mobb Deep, Tragedy Khadafi, and Blaq Poet.
  • The True Meaning (2002): Released just a year after his debut, this album solidified Cormega’s presence in the rap scene, winning the “Indy Album of the Year” at the 2003 Source Awards.
  • Mega Philosophy (2014): Produced entirely by the legendary Large Professor, this album showcases Cormega’s reflective and conscious approach to rhyming.


In addition to his studio albums, Cormega has released numerous mixtapes throughout his career. Some notable examples include:

  • Who Am I (2007): A well-received mixtape that features Cormega rapping over a variety of beats, showcasing his versatility.
  • Born and Raised (2009): A mixtape that highlights Cormega’s gritty upbringing in Queens, New York, and his journey to becoming a respected hip-hop artist.

Guest Appearances

Cormega’s reputation as a skilled lyricist has led to numerous guest appearances on tracks with other artists, as well as collaborations with established rap groups. Some examples include:

  • Affirmative Action (1996): Cormega’s verse on this Nas track, alongside rappers AZ and Foxy Brown, led to the formation of the group The Firm.
  • Feel My Pain (2015): A collaboration with Raekwon, appearing on Raekwon’s album “Fly International Luxurious Art.”
  • One Love (1994): Though not a guest appearance in terms of contributing a verse, Cormega was shouted out by Nas on this classic track from his critically acclaimed album “Illmatic.”

Awards and Recognition

Cormega, born as Cory McKay on December 3, 1970, is an American rapper who initially gained attention when he was mentioned by Nas in his song “One Love” from the 1994 album Illmatic. Since then, Cormega has been praised for his lyrical abilities and contribution to the world of rap music.

Though he is not a mainstream artist, Cormega has earned critical acclaim and respect in the hip-hop community. He has collaborated with notable artists such as Mobb Deep, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon. His albums have also received positive reviews from critics, with some of them being regarded as underground classics.

In 2001, Cormega released his debut album, “The Realness,” which was highly praised by both fans and critics. The album featured hard-hitting beats, introspective lyrics, and a narrative style that showcased Cormega’s roots in Queensbridge. This album helped solidify Cormega’s reputation in the hip-hop scene and further established him as a formidable lyricist.

Cormega continued to release more successful albums, such as “The True Meaning” in 2002, which won the Independent Album of the Year award at the 2003 Source Awards. This accolade is particularly significant, as it is an acknowledgement of Cormega’s talent and ability to stand out in the rap genre, despite being an independent artist.

One of Cormega’s most recent releases, “Mega Philosophy,” which was produced by Large Professor, also received positive reviews and was recognized as an example of the rapper’s dedication to preserving the essence of 90s rap.

Throughout his career, Cormega has remained true to his artistic vision and gained the admiration of fans and critics alike for his lyrical prowess and authenticity. Despite not having a long list of awards, his dedication to preserving the original spirit of hip-hop has earned him the recognition and respect of both his peers and fans in the hip-hop community.

Personal Life

Cormega, born as Cory McKay on December 3, 1970, grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He spent much of his early life facing the challenges of living in a rough neighborhood, which later inspired his music career. With a strong inclination towards hip-hop, Cormega started making a name for himself in the rap scene.

In the early 1990s, Cormega gained recognition when he was mentioned by Nas in his song “One Love” from the critically acclaimed album Illmatic. He soon became a part of the rap group The Firm, alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature. Unfortunately, a feud with Nas led to his replacement in the group.

Cormega has a slim build and stands at a height of around 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) and weighs approximately 154.5 lbs (70 kg). He has black hair and dark brown eyes. Throughout his career, Cormega has maintained a respectable independence, releasing his work on his own label, Legal Hustle.

As of 2023, Cormega is 52 years old and holds an American nationality. While he’s managed to keep much of his personal life away from the public eye, it’s clear that his experiences and relationships within the music industry have shaped his career and the messages he conveys through his music.

His current estimated net worth is around $3 million, a testament to his tenacity and dedication to the rap scene. Although Cormega hasn’t achieved the level of commercial success as some of his New York City peers, his work continues to be revered by fans and critics alike, solidifying his position in the annals of hip-hop history.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to Cormega?

Cormega is still active in the music industry. He was recently working on his new album, ‘The Realness II’, where he discussed fatherhood, legacy, and squashing beef with Nas in an interview with LEVEL Man.

Where is he from?

Cormega is from Queens, New York. He grew up in Long Island City, where he formed childhood friendships with future rappers.

How old is he?

Cormega, born Cory McKay on December 3, 1970, is currently 52 years old.

How many albums?

Throughout his career, Cormega has released several albums. While the exact number may vary depending on EPs and collaborative projects, his most well-known albums include ‘The Realness’, ‘The True Meaning’, ‘Legal Hustle’, and ‘Born and Raised’.

Who did he collaborate with?

Cormega has worked with a range of talented artists over the years. His most notable collaboration was with Nas, which generated a lot of buzz in the hip-hop community when he was featured on the tracklist for Nas’ 2020 album, ‘King’s Disease’.

What’s his best album?

There are various opinions on what Cormega’s best album might be, but ‘The Realness’ is often regarded as one of his strongest and most impactful works. This album showcases Cormega’s streetwise poetics and perseverance, making him one of the most respected East Coast lyricists.

From the archives: Interview

Halftime: I did an interview with Prodigy a couple months ago and he was talking about when he first came to Queens. He said they took him through the neighborhood and he had to battle people to show his skills and that he battled you. Do you remember anything from that battle?

Cormega: That fucking sickle cell must be eating his brain because that nigga never battled me. Prodigy is losing his fucking mind. I’m getting tired of rappers from Queensbridge cuz its like yo B everybody don’t have to lie about everything just be human. I’m not ashamed about my flaws or about what’s true and what’s not but I never battled Prodigy. I swear to god. Havoc battled me before, Poet the legendary battle cat from Queensbridge battled me before, me and Tragedy rhymed together but he never battled me, me and Nas was from the same block so we was cool, and MC Shan I had tremendous respect for. Let me keep it 100% real with you, when there was park jams nobody rapped at a park jam when I was rapping and that’s a fact. You can ask anybody don’t just take my word for it do your research cuz it seems everyone wants to make themselves bigger than what they are. Me and Craig G spit some bars at each other before, MC Snow who was down with MC Shan I ate his ass on the hill, but Prodigy I don’t know I wish I had his number. In that case, shit I dunked on Ron Artest and I’m 5’7 and I can’t even dunk.

So was that not the norm that a cat came in and hand to go through the neighborhoods and battle?

Cormega: You had to battle in Queensbridge that’s how everybody got ill. Queensbridge is so competitive they would walk you over to the other block and be like battle this nigga. But Prodigy never battled me and I swear to my mother and my mother’s dead. It’s that serious to me. I swear I never battled this guy. I don’t even know where he comes off with that. He knows he never battled me.

He said he battled Nas too.

Cormega: Yea I could believe that, maybe he did but I can’t speak for that.

I was reading a lot of your other interviews and one thing I noticed was you are up to date on what people are saying about you on different message boards. How often do you check and see what people are saying about you on boards and on reviews?

Cormega: I have an excellent publicist so that’s how I’m on top of my reviews and I must say I’m fucking disgusted with XXL and the review they gave me. The thing that pissed me off is that this is not a Cormega album but motherfuckers trying to judge me like it is. I seen a review where they are like it’s not as good as his last two critically acclaimed albums. How is it gonna be as good as my albums!? I just got finished speaking with this dude at XXL yesterday asking why ya’ll judging my album like it’s a Cormega album. If you go to Soundscan it says ‘Cormega presents.’ If you go to the record store and speak to the retail guy it says ‘Cormega Presents.’ It’s not a Cormega album, on the album it don’t even says Cormega in big letters! So I’m like did you compare the DMX album to Ruff Ryders or Oochie Wallie to Illmatic? That’s the thing I’m not liking as far as the reviews. As far as the internet I try not to really let it bother me or give it too much measurement because half the people on the internet are bored and they have no life. There is one nigga named Galvatron who be on, it’s like it’s his job to hate on me. He’s a professional. This guy Galvatron is obsessed with me. At the end of the day Galvatron you’re a dick. You wake up in the morning, you get on your fucking computer and you obsess about me.


Cormega: I wake up in the morning, I take a piss, I might brush my teeth, I might not, I watch Sportscenter, go eat some Fruity Pebbles or Apple Jacks, I play Playstation on my plasma screen TV, I decide which car I’m gonna get in or what clothes I’m gonna wear and that’s that. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about fucking Galvatron!


Cormega: That’s the thing that bugs me out about the internet, people are obsessive on that motherfucker. One thing I do like about it is there are no yes men. There’s people that like you and there’s people that don’t like you. I love it because I love the negative criticism because I always feel I have something to prove. You know the old saying kill him with kindness that’s the way you shut me up. With a compliment, I have nothing to prove. If you say Mega can’t flow now I’m gonna show you I can flow. Before I put out albums people were like he’s a freestyle/mixtape nigga but he can’t make albums, now two albums later I have two critically acclaimed albums not my opinion but the world’s. I never said my albums were classic or tell the Source to give me that Award or to give me album of the year for 2001. Now motherfuckers is like all he talks about is street shit, so on my second album I flipped it and I had songs for women, songs on social issues, an a capella that’s not even rhyming and I got an award for that album. Then all the people on the internet said he talks about Nas all the time so you noticed I don’t talk about Nas no more. Everything they say about me I’m gonna work on. They said I couldn’t flow before saying I was punching in when I wasn’t. I was coming in on another track trying to be like Slick Rick. Think about it, only a dickhead aspiring artist or industry person even knows what a punch is. You can’t go to the average kid in the street and say he punched in on that song because they’ll be like what the fuck are you talking about. I love the dickhead shit on the internet but at the same time I don’t respect the internet because I’ve watched these people hail and praise people and put artists on a high pedestal, their album comes out, and it doesn’t even sell. Ya’ll internet people are criticizing artists for something you downloaded and you aren’t even supporting the cause. Then you get mad when your favorite artist crosses over, but when an artist tries to keep it real with you internet motherfuckers you just download his shit! I even told niggas on the internet one day I don’t respect you download niggas. Don’t compliment me on my album if you downloaded it. That’s like you robbing my house, stealing my TV and calling me up like the clarity on this TV is ill! I can’t really respect that shit. I respect it to a degree but I love the challenge of critics. I’m aware of what’s going on with the internet though. I know it’s very symbolic because that’s universal not local. A motherfucker could be in Africa reading about you. That’s why I keep my eyes and ears in tune with the net.

What would you do if you ever met Galvatron?

Cormega: I wouldn’t even do nothing because the average motherfucker on the internet is a fucking coward anyway. It’s not like he’s gonna be like yea I’m Galvatron nigga what. If that’s the case I wouldn’t do nothing to him, the niggas that’s with me would pound his ass out. I don’t have to do nothing to nobody right now. Fuck him he’s a nobody. Let me tell you something else, me having differences with Nas made me realize I’m like Lex Luther to a Superman comic book buyer. Motherfuckers hate me that love Nas. I noticed motherfuckers hate me more than they hate Jay-Z. It’s passionate hate. Nature made a song dissing Nas more recently than me and it was on the radio and everything why ya’ll don’t hate him like ya’ll hate me. I used to be a Knick fan and I used to hate Alonzo Mourning and I was like its not that I hate him it’s that I love the Knicks so much. Why didn’t I hate Jordan but Alonzo was such a threat. You fear what you don’t understand. Nas fans know I’m a fucking threat that’s why they don’t like me. Jay-Z and Nas have two different styles and Nature is a whole different subject but they fear me. Niggas on the internet know everything. You could make a freestyle tape in the fourth grade and they’ll know about it. When the whole fallout with me and Nature happened they said I dissed Nature because he replaced me in the firm. That’s bullshit everyone and their mother knows Nature shitted on me on the Clue tape. That’s how the whole beef started. If you listen to my song when I responded somebody’s talking on the beginning of the song and they say ‘you heard the new Clue tape that nigga Nature shitted on you’ and I’m like word on the song “Fuck Nas.” All these internet motherfuckers hide what they want to hide and put out what they want to put out. They don’t say Nature dissed Mega so Mega responded. I never even got kicked out of The Firm. If I would have paid I would have been down. I didn’t pay and I’m not saying I was right for not doing it I just didn’t understand the industry at the time. Just like when I was making songs dissing Nas they was like all he does is think about Nas. What about the 50 million times he dissed me on albums? You knew he was talking about me you fucking geeks! He had subliminal songs dissing me like that song I ain’t fucking with you I’m doing big things, you want to ball for self why your album ain’t out, all that shit he was talking about me. On “Hate Me Now” he was talking about me too on certain parts. Mad songs this nigga made talking about me. I knew he was talking about me, he knew and his fans knew but ya’ll were just mad because ya’ll wasn’t expecting that response. I wasn’t playing no games, I’m saying his name and crazy shit. Motherfuckers don’t like that just like how they hated Pac cuz he was too raw. So keep it real and say son shouldn’t of started with Mega cuz Mega went too far with it and maybe Nature shouldn’t have said what he said but don’t just act like I’m just a trouble maker.

With Nature all I heard was Cormega seen Nature at the video shoot and knocked him out.

Cormega: The niggas in the street love me and the geeks that love Nas hate me. At the same time ya’ll don’t understand the world I’m from and my code of honor. I don’t be telling everybody my story some niggas come up to me like I heard you was getting money and such and such. A motherfucker came up to me like yo my man said you knocked him out in jail. I was laughing cuz I’m like I wouldn’t even tell nobody if someone knocked me out in jail. I used to box and one of the niggas I knocked out told somebody. Niggas talk about me so they build up my mystique that’s how you know my credibility is real. The industry niggas are scared of that shit but the street niggas they love it. America has always been fascinated with the bad guy that’s probably why I’m still here. I’m not just living off my bad guy image cuz at the end of the day nobody wants to be bad forever. Even Darth Vader told Luke aight I’ma chill now.


Cormega: Nobody wants to be bad forever so its like I know what I’ve done and I know what I’m capable of on streets but I’m not proud of all of that. If I can change certain shit in my life I would. Like when I got shot I wasn’t like ‘Yea I’m a real nigga!!’ I was like damn that shit hurts. Or when I was in jail I wasn’t like yea I’m gonna do this five years nigga what! I wanted to come home so when I listen to these rap niggas its like they fucking clowns. I know niggas is fake. Ain’t too many niggas on my level. The only nigga that I can vouch for that been through the pen and the struggle like me is Lake. Other rappers been in jail but they was ass in jail or they been in the street. If you were a crackhead in the street that don’t mean you went through the struggle. You were smoking, you wasn’t hustling from police or having shootouts on the block. I see niggas that’s crackheads talking but I don’t blow them up I let them do them. You got some rappers that niggas be thinking they gangstas and I be like oh my fucking god but I don’t say nothing. I’m not gonna knock your hustle. I know what I am and what I’m capable of but that’s not about nothing. I told my man just recently, he’s a live nigga, I said being live only serves a purpose in the streets. I said you think Bill Gates gives a fuck who’s live? It’s the pussy niggas with the Maybach, so that live shit really ain’t adding up to much. Be live but apply that shit in another way. Another thing about being live or having power is having power is responsibility. When niggas respect you they respect how you move and what you are capable of doing and they follow what you do. I know that I set an example so I don’t want niggas following my steps. I don’t want anybody to go do the things that I did cuz for real at times I didn’t even think I was gonna make it. I was hoping I didn’t get killed. I don’t want nobody to try to live my life. A lot of rappers in the industry that’s live they know I know. I be listening to niggas talking about they tough but I did shows with rappers on Riker’s Island and niggas didn’t even want to wear their jewelry. I had to tell niggas yo you can wear your jewelry on Riker’s Island. I been through it, lived it but at the end of the day what does that all mean. Especially in rap because if you a live nigga and a tough guy but you suck at the end of the day you a tough nigga who sucks. That’s not my legacy I want them to say son was nice. I don’t want them to remember me from the streets.

I’ve noticed mad heads are getting serious with this mixtape shit right now. Practically every artist has one. Do you think this is the beginning of the pendulum swinging back into the artist’s favor where they have more creative control with the music they put out?

Cormega: Let me tell you something niggas will never give me my props but do you know I’m the first nigga who did that. I put out a best of mixtape when I was on the shelf at Def Jam to test the waters and see how people felt about me. Nobody had no ‘best of’ out with no record out or that was new. I had one called “Montana Way” and that was old. I had another one that was so old you could go to the XXL archives because they did a write up on the bitch in around ’99 and by then it was old and that wasn’t even my first one. So how long have I been making ‘best ofs’ and that’s why I laugh at niggas. After 50 put his shit out everybody thought that was the formula but everybody don’t feel everybody the way they feel 50. 50’s career is also the perfect storm because everything perfect that could happen for an artist happened for that nigga at the same time. When he wasn’t down with Eminem his shit wasn’t selling like that. When he put out his ‘best of’ it was doing decent numbers, then he got down with Eminem, now he’s down with Dre, he’s got street credibility, he had a lot to talk about and I gotta give him his props the nigga work ethic is crazy. Now you got corny ass niggas trying to make mixtapes now.

Even if there are corny niggas doing it, do you think overall it’s a positive?

Cormega: It is positive because nowadays the game is so fucked up I feel sorry for new niggas. I can get my shit played because I can give it to certain DJs that I have a rapport and a little history with. But say my name is MC Cool and I want you to play my shit on your tape, these motherfuckers is charging niggas to get on a mixtape!!

Damn, how you gonna charge someone to get on your mix joint!?

Cormega: That’s why I feel bad for new niggas because the average new nigga don’t got money so how he gonna pay you to get on the mixtape. Even if he do pay you what is he gonna be # 31 on the outro. So being able to do your own mixtape is a good way to get heard. The first mixtape I did, I did it so long ago by the time I was on the Survival of the Illest tour with Def Jam and niggas was coming up to me in other states. I’m gonna keep it real with you when I first went to Chicago for that Survival of the Illest tour to do my first show I was scared to perform. I’m not afraid to admit my weaknesses. I was scared to perform. I never had no record out, but by the time I got there niggas was like I got your album and I’m like what the fuck and it was “Montana Way.” They knew the words and everything. I ended up ripping that tour just as much as anybody else. It was me DMX, Redman, Keith Murray that shit was dope.

What artists are you actually feeling right now?

Cormega: Everybody rhymes the same. On mixtapes do 60% of the niggas sound like Jay-Z or is it just me? Niggas is on Jay-Z dick so hard they even try the whisper style. You got niggas that ain’t even from Brooklyn and everyone want to rap like Jay-Z and is a punchline rapper. I got so many of this, my earrings look like these, my wrist look like this and when I stop at the light my rims keep moving. Okay you just did a free advertisement for Jacob and the Sprewell Factory but what’s for the mind. I like Scarface, I like Lauryn Hill I wish she would come back, I might as well like Jay-Z cuz everybody else rap like him.


Cormega: I respect Nas as an artist. Nas ain’t as ill as he used to be but he’s still one of the best so that tells you that he’s ill. I think Havoc stepped his game up crazy. He got to be most improved.

Let me ask you this, one thing that people said that I meant to mention to Prodigy when I interviewed him was that Havoc has stepped up his rap game but Prodigy has actually stepped down his game. Do you think he is as ill as he was before?

Cormega: Nope. Actually to be honest with you I have a song with him right now that’s unreleased and for real I’m debating taking him off the song.


Cormega: But Havoc murdered it. I’m a fan first. I was a fan of Prodigy. I don’t what the fuck it is, ever since the Takeover he ain’t been the same.

I was thinking that maybe his health is getting to him or something.

Cormega: Nah I done seen the nigga come out the hospital and spit a mean sixteen so it ain’t the sick shit. I don’t know, what is it nigga you don’t want to rap no more? It’s like he don’t got that fire no more. He’s not garbage but he just ain’t doing what he used to be doing. It’s like in Purple Rain when the fat dude told Prince you ain’t pulling them in like you used too. I don’t know. P is not whack, he is just not stepping up to the plate. How many people you killed in your songs, you like a god damn Nazi.


Cormega: Yea I got the mack this, come through and I’ll do this and I’ll do that. Niggas got to learn to go other places with their rhymes. You can love me or you can hate me but you can’t define me. You can’t be like I already know how this album is gonna sound. I’d rather you say Mega’s whack or I like Mega but don’t say I’m predictable. When I rapped on Hi-Tek’s album, I could have killed 50 people over Hi Tek’s beat but I choose to talk about a girl. Everybody’s one-dimensional. There was a time when Slick Rick was giving you a whole different vibe and it was just as dope as Rakim who was giving you a whole different vibe who was just as dope as De La Soul giving you a whole different Vibe, and Krs One and Public Enemy were giving you a whole different vibe. You had Chubb Rock, shit we didn’t even know who the dopes fat nigga was! Heavy D was the mainstream fat nigga but niggas in the streets was like I don’t know that boy Chubb Rock is kinda fresh. Then you had Brand Nubian and this is all in the same era. I can’t name a bunch of rappers right now that I’m feeling like that.

For the compilation album you have out now we saw that you had a song with AZ and we were surprised you hadn’t collabed with him more since you guys were initially in The Firm together. What sparked this one?

Cormega: You gotta respect my position on it. I’m a man of principal. Me and Nas had differences. Even though we grew up together and everything differences is differences. There comes a time when loyalty has to pay in. Nas put AZ on so in a way AZ is indebted to him and he has that loyalty factor. Everybody has to play a side because if you play both sides you a snake if you not a peacemaker. So I never really approached AZ about doing a song because I knew it would affect his relationship with Nas. I don’t approach nobody that’s cool with son because I know how he is. I’m not like that. If you fuck with Nas and you fuck with me I don’t really give a fuck, especially if you grew up with both of us. If you my man I know where you stand but certain people gotta prove where they stand and that’s what it was. I know that to be factual because we spoke on that. Even when we did this song I told AZ you my man I’m gonna respect you either way, you don’t have to do the song. I always wanted to do a song with him but he knew what it was. Me and A always been cool ever since The Firm. AZ was very vocal in The Firm shit when it was turning around and seemed like I wasn’t gonna be in it. But what can you do when the Crystal is in the refrigerator persuading your view.

This album is my blood, sweat and tears. I went to L.A. to record with Kurupt and Jayo Felony, I went to the Bay Area twice within weeks to get something from Jakka and put this Jamaican guy Under P on the song. I went to Miami, I went to Virginia to record with Nottz, and there were times where I was in the studio into the wee hours of the night. There was times when there was one session going on in Queens and one going on in Manhattan and I’m traveling between both. I got Ghostface on the album he demolished it, I got AZ, MOP, Large Pro, and then I got my artist Dona. This is like a showcase album for Dona too. It’s introducing the world to Dona. This is Volume 1, we’ll probably do two of these.

I wanted to ask about your artists because I know you had another cat on the roster.

Cormega: The other cat is in jail. That’s how real it is with me. Every nigga that’s on this album that you never heard of is in jail right now no exaggeration.

Well when they come home and you induct other members into Legal Hustle what’s your general business philosophy and working approach?

Cormega: It’s more family than a label. Anybody can be on a label. If you get a nigga on your label, who is a spur of the moment opportunist he might say fuck your label and go sign with another label. Legal Hustle is family. My man Biz has been doing my business even when I could have gotten a big time manager. Dona she was down. She could have bounced because there have been people that wanted to sign her but she grinded and she stayed with me. My respect for Dona is so big because Dona epitomizes real nigga. On the internet I noticed the views on Dona are split, either they love her or they hate her. The street gully people like her but a lot of the backpackers are like I’m not into female rappers. I never knew rap was so anti feminine. People ask me why do I respect her and its like this Dona’s niece just died, she was three months old and she was named after her. I bought Dona a Legal Hustle Medallion, a diamond piece and she pawned her jewelry to pay for her niece’s funeral. How real is that? I know niggas that didn’t even do shit like that. My respect for her is on another level right now. I’m with her win, lose, or draw. That’s the difference between a label and me. I’m not losing faith with her. If she blow we blow and if she sinks we sink together.

What’s been the response to the album thus far?

Cormega: When the album first leaked I was so fucking heated, but the response that I got was incredible. Only people that don’t understand are saying stupid shit like there are too many guest appearances. A couple people put out similar albums recently like Pete Rock and Okayplayer so those are the albums you can compare my shit too not my albums. Other than that my shit is doing good numbers for an independent as usual so I’m just focused now cuz I know what I want to do. We didn’t even push this shit yet. We didn’t even hit the road hard yet so I know this album is gonna be a good look at the end of the day.

Now I know you have your next solo, “The Testament,” coming up which I heard is supposed to the album you recorded for Def Jam. Is it gonna be the exact same record?

Cormega: As a fan and a listener what would you expect?

I’d expect you to put the shit out the way it was.

Cormega: That’s exactly what I’m gonna do. I pretty much had the same style then that I got now but the thing that benefited me more was that I was hungrier then. I was more aggressive with my songs and people like that. As time went on certain song’s leaked like “Killer’s Theme,” that was from “The Testament.” That wasn’t supposed to be on “The Realness,” that’s why it was a hidden track. You got “Dead Man Walking” and “The Testament” which a lot of people say is their favorite song I did. Then you got the song “One Love” with the letter I wrote Nas when I was in jail. Then you got “Montana Diaries,” “Angel Dust” and then you got a song called “Love is Love” which leaked recently which people thought was new. So “The Testament” has so many dope records that the hold up turned out to be the best free promotion an artist can ask for. That’s one of the longest awaited albums in the history of rap. It wasn’t my fault but that’s just how it happened. So the fans are gonna get that album just like it would have came out then but now Buckwild stepped into the picture and he’s like let’s make an old and a new. So it will most likely be a double album and the old side will have the originals and the new side will have commentary and remixes.

Last question any female celebrity you could have for one night who would it be?

Cormega: I don’t want no rap bitch. You know what I learned I don’t be wanting shit no more. I noticed when I wanted shit I never get it but when I don’t think about it I always get it. I got everything I ever wanted right now, now that I don’t give a fuck about that shit. I like a lot of beautiful women in the industry but one of my favorites has to be Halle Berry. I don’t know what’s wrong with that Benet dude.

Disclaimer: This is an interview published by the old version of HalfTimeOnline, now republished in full