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by Bill Heinzelman
23 February, 2005@12:00 am
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HipHopSite: We’ll get into The Testament, but first I want to speak about the recent passing of ODB.  What was your reaction when you heard ODB passed?

The passing of ODB is a tragic lose.  ODB’s death just showed us how mortal we all are.  It can happen to anybody.  But ODB’s death also left me feeling repulsed at some of the radio stations in New York, because I don’t feel he got the attention he deserved.  I turned on the radio the day he died expecting to hear a lot of his songs but they were playing the same old bullshit.  Its just a tragic thing.

HipHopSite: That was going to be my next question, because it seems that even the Hip Hop media doesn’t care.  They gave him a little coverage, but now its like old news.

Yeah, exactly!  I wanna see what magazine puts him on the cover.  It’s just so fucked up right now because everybody is so busy chasing the dollar, instead of dignity.  That is why New York rap is suffering right now.  If you look at all the top superstars in the rap, there really isn’t any from New York.  The people who are really dominating rap right now is from out of state, except for G-Unit.  But New York, its like we turn our back.  And the New York radio is dick rider capital and the media is also fucked up.  The exploitation of the dollar is one of the things that has desecrated Hip Hop as we know it.  I’ll give you a perfect example, nobody major as been going to get beats from Primo or hollering at people like Rakim.  They would all rather go with the obvious artist’s that is going to help them sell their song.  People are trying to do what will sell records, as opposed to being themselves, and looking back years from now and being proud of it.

HipHopSite: I don’t know if you heard about ODB’s autopsy report.  They found a bag full of a white substance in his stomach.  So I bet you now the media starts to take notice.

I would hope not, but yeah, they will probably will, that is the media for you.  They always focus on things of that nature, no matter what genre of music or type of entertainment you are in.   Like in the NBA right now, all you have been hearing about is the situation with Ron Artest and all of that.  But you have people like Grant Hill coming back from a miraculous surgery, which nobody thought was possible, and now he is one of the league leaders again.  They could be talking about that.  And in baseball, they wanna about the situation with Gary Sheffield and his wife, or the Giambi shit, when there is other things we can talk about.  So the media is definitely out to crucify people.

HipHopSite: Ok, let’s get into The Testament.  When you sit down and listen to this album, which is almost seven years old, what do you see?

The Testament reminds of that pair of Nike’s you loved in high school, and now they are back out.  The Testament is the first real retro album, there has never been an album like this where people wanted it but it never came out.  So when I hear it, it brings back memories, because every song is a moment.  When I hear “Angel Dust”, because that was the first song I did when I got out of jail, I remember having Havoc help me with it.  So he came by and did the chorus for me.  Like I said, every song is a moment in time, and the album also reminds me of a time when Hip Hop was so much better in New York.  Hip Hop was better in general, but that album was being worked on when New York was the epicenter.  I was working on The Testament in the wake of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, a couple years after Illmatic, and during Hell On Earth, albums of that nature.  That was a good era right there!  So it just reminds me of better days.

HipHopSite: In what ways have you grown since The Testament?

I don’t use as much profanity and I am more comfortable on the mic now.  My presence is more felt and my flow is more mature, as opposed to then.  I used to just spit raw back then.  There is actually some pros and cons to the changes.  But overall, I have elevated as an artist and as a man.  I don’t use the word bitch in my songs, well, I do, but in reference to a dude I don’t like.  Also, now I try to put substance in my music, because every song doesn’t have to be about selling drugs.  Not every song has to be negative, or based around the ills of the world.  I try to diversify everything now.

HipHopSite: So this is the complete album you intended to release on Def Jam, every song?

Pretty much every song.  The only song is “Glory Days”, which was put on The Realness.  That was originally supposed to be on The Testament, but I’m debating right now whether I should put it on the album since fans already have it on The Realness.  I asked my fans on my website and some people said I shouldn’t, but other than that rest of the album is complete.  There are going to be some songs you are going to be familiar with and some you aren’t.  Then there are things I just touched up a little bit.

HipHopSite: Def Jam didn’t have any controls over the tracks or anything like that?

Nope

HipHopSite:  That’s good, since in this day and age the record companies usually control everything.

Yeah, but the people who have followed my career know that I have always been in control of everything.  I do everything on my own, and the only situation I had no control over is the last album I put out on Koch, Legal Hustle.  I didn’t like the way they worked that project.  So that is the only time I let someone control my fate, but I will not let that happen anymore.

HipHopSite: If The Testament actually dropped on Def Jam all those years ago, how different do you think your career would be right now?

Hmm, that is a good question.  I can’t call it, because Def Jam, well I can’t speak on them now because they have a whole new regime, but Def Jam back then, they had the tendency to gimmick you out.  If you look at their roster, and I don’t have to say any names, you can look at them yourself.  Some of the dudes used to be some of the grimiest guys in the world, and now they are like comedians.  Literally, everything is a joke or a gimmicky, so my thing is, would I have let them gimmicked me out?  That is a question I have to ask myself.  I don’t think I would have, because I have always been stubborn in situations like that, so I don’t know what my career would be like right now.  That is an excellent question!  But I’ll say this, I think everything happens for a reason, and I couldn’t ask for a better situation right now.  I’m glad things happened the way they did, because I learned everything myself and I learned about my fans and the industry.

HipHopSite: Where does The Testament rank in comparison to The Realness and The True Meaning?

I don’t know, that is really hard.  That is hard because I know as far as rawness, The Testament is rawer than The Realness and True Meaning.  But, man, I can’t call it, that is a good question as well.  You would have to ask the fans that because I can’t even answer that.  But the only album I can speak on is my next solo album, which is a follow up to everything.  I know my next album I can compare that to everything.  But The Testament, I don’t know where to put it in regards to The Realness and True Meaning.  I think The Testament is a part of both of those albums.  Without The Testament there would be no True Meaning and The Realness.  So they all fit in there somewhere.

HipHopSite: So Urban Legend is going to be your best album?

Yeah, definitely.

HipHopSite: What’s the status of your next album, is it still going to be Urban Legend even though T.I. used the title recently?

Yup.  But I just might call it The Urban Legend.  I’m not going to let someone change my footprint in the sand because they came on the beach first.  In my heart and mind, I know I had the title first.  Because Mobb Deep’s Murda Mixtape, which came out through Landspeed in 2003, what did it say in the insert?  Cormega – Urban Legend.  On my Legal Hustle album that came out in May, what did it say?  And me and Jacki-o, my publicist, have been promoting Urban Legend for the past two years.  So all my fans are familiar with the title and I’m just going to keep it the same.

HipHopSite: Since you brought up the Legal Hustle album, let me just go back to that for a second.  Were you disappointed that some people took it as your album and not a compilation?

I think some people are just dicks, because anybody who reads the internet or anything like that knows it was a compilation.  If I say I have done 30 interviews in which I told people it wasn’t a Cormega album, I am short changing myself.  I did at least 40 to 50 interviews in which I said I was doing a feature album.  I even called it a mixtape sometimes.  The only reason I didn’t publicly call it a mixtape, because the stores take that the wrong way.  When you are an artist and a company owner, there is two different frames of thought.  Anybody who owns a company, you don’t want to put out an album and call it a mixtape, because retail does not want to buy them.  Or retail won’t buy compilation albums.  So it was a feature album, and I think certain people are just looking for any kind of flaw in my game.  They are looking for a chink in my armor, when in turn they don’t judge other artists for similar types of albums.  I have never done a Cormega album with my name not on the cover.  Legal Hustle didn’t even say Cormega, it said Cormega in little letters inside of the design.  Other than that it just said Legal Hustle.  And there was only four solo Mega songs on the album.  So anybody who said that is a Cormega album is obviously a dick.  To compare that album to my previous solo ones is a disrespect.  And to compare that album to another rapper, I take that as a compliment.  Because I noticed people are always looking for a flaw in me.  To compare Legal Hustle to another artists solo album is a compliment, but at the same time a disrespect.  But I’ll say this, compare my real solo albums to others, or judge me by Urban Legend.  But Legal Hustle was what it was.  And there is going to be a volume two, and the title is going to be Legal Hustle Vol. 2 – This Is Not A Solo Album!  That is going to be the title.

HipHopSite: Going back to Urban Legend, tell us about the album and what fans can expect out of it.

I think it is the best album I have ever done.  I have a song with Krs-One, Big Daddy Kane, Grand Puba and PMD.  Also, I am going to put another rapper on it, even though I originally didn’t want to add any more names because radio only wants their songs to be like three minutes.  But I said, “Why am I doing that, fuck radio, they don’t play my songs anyway”.  So I am going to add another rap legend to that, so that song is done.  The intro to Urban Legend alone is one of my best songs ever.  People in my camp have told me that, and I’m not talking about yes men.  I’m talking about people who would tell me if its wack, and they have been saying it’s the best intro I have ever done.  My dude Biz been with me since The Testament and he told me that is the hungriest I have ever sounded.  So my intro alone is crazy.  Then I got songs where I am really trying to showcase my flow and artist growth.  But an artist like myself, it’s a doubled edged sword.  Because there are some fans who like street shit and there are some who like underground and lyrical shit, like back pack music.  So an artist like me, I have a bunch of back pack fans and a ton of street fans.  So a lot of my street fans wanted me to make harder songs, because I have been so busy trying to grow as an artist on my last album that I really didn’t go hard.  So with this album I am going back gutter but I am also growing.  And that is what is going to make this album different.  Plus, I feel I have a lot to prove, because this is my first solo album in two years.  I don’t even count The Testament, because it is what it is.  That album is just closer for me, its giving the fans what they want.  So after we close that chapter, we are going to move on to the next one.

HipHopSite:  Who is doing the production on the album?

As of now, I went back and got the producers from my two solo albums.  I got J-Love, he did the intro on The Realness.  I got J. Supreme, he did “R U My Nigga”, he is back on the album.  I also got Emile, Nottz, D.R. Period and I’m supposed to be doing something with Pete Rock.  Most likely Large Professor as well.  But there are a lot of producers on there, I can’t even think of everybody right now.

HipHopSite: What about Alchemist?

I don’t know what my standings are like with Alchemist at the present moment.  Because I think he is not really fucking with Queens Bridge artists anymore, well that is the rumor at least.  But, I wasn’t really respecting Alchemist anyway.  I respect him as a producer, but when I was making The True Meaning, he did the song called “The Legacy”.  So he did the song but he didn’t get to mix it.  So when The Source did the review, they said they didn’t like “The Legacy”.  So then, he calls me crying and complaining, talking about, “Yo, this is my name”, but mean while, if you have something that you know is good, then nobody can tell you otherwise.  Nobody is always going to like everything you do.  And meanwhile, if you go to any Cormega fan, that is one of their favorite records on the album.  But he was crying over nothing, so I lost respect for him over that.  I’m like, “Your crying”?  “They gave me three and half mics dog”.  I got three and a half, and the lady from The Source didn’t give me an excellent review, so I should be more mad than you.  And I told him, “The song is dope, and I wouldn’t even disrespect you like that”.  So when that situation came, it made me not really want to work with him.  But I’ll holler at him, but if we never really do anything again it doesn’t really matter to me at this present time.

HipHopSite: Have you ever tried to reach out to DJ Premier for a track, because I know everybody is waiting for that to happen?

Me doing something with Premier, is like…you know that girl that you always liked and you kept chasing and chasing her, but its like she’s just fronting?  That is kind of how I feel with Primo.  I have trying to do something with him since I was on Def Jam.  And I got signed in ’96, its ’05 next month, so come on, how long does it really take?  I don’t think I’ll ever get a beat from Primo, because if he really wanted to give me one, it would have happened already.  He says he wants to get me a beat, and told me he has me, but meanwhile I see artists like Non-Phixion and other artists who came on the scene after me, get beats from him already.  Not to discredit any of those artists though.   But I would love to get a beat from him, but It’s not one of my main ambitions anymore.  I would love to be in the NBA, but its not going to happen.  So life goes on.

HipHopSite: Whatever happened with the album between you and Ayatollah?

Oh shit, Ayatollah is on the Urban Legend album as well, I don’t know how I forgot him.  Me and Ayatollah were working together, but at one point he wasn’t focusing on the album, so I just said fuck it, and started working on the Legal Hustle album.  But we have been in the studio recently, we knocked out joints and we have fire.  So most likely we’ll drop that album as well.  What I’m thinking about doing is, I am dropping a documentary called Who Am I, and I might let Ayatollah get the soundtrack.

HipHopSite: What’s going on with the album you and Tragedy Khadafi were going to do?

(Laughter)  I won’t even comment on that one, that dude is incredible.

HipHopSite: Why?  You guys fell out or something and its not going to happen anymore?

Na, I didn’t fall out with Tragedy, I love him.  But if we call Ayatollah right now on a three way he’ll tell you, or if you speak with Jacki-o or anybody who works with me, they will tell you how my work ethic is.  Right now I’m in Atlanta, I’m not working, I’m chilling.  This is my vacation, but I still wanted to do all the interviews I could.  So I always try to work hard.  But with Tragedy, one day we were in the studio and everything was good, and then the next thing you know, a week goes past, a month goes past, a season goes past, and nothing happened.  So when he gets focused we can do it, but I don’t need to do an album with Tragedy Khadafi, put it like that.  That was something I was gonna do, but I don’t need it.  Tragedy has been in the game way longer than me, so I think a grown man should take his business and his craft seriously.  Tragedy is my man though, we don’t have any beef, we didn’t fall out or anything like that.  Its just like if your on a team with somebody and you go to practice everyday, and you end up getting more playing time than them, you can’t worry about why they are not on the floor.

HipHopSite:  I see you have your website and forum running, but you stopped posting because of all the bullshit associated with the internet.  Why is that?

Na, its not that.  I don’t post their as much, because my site turned into a daily interview.  People started to notice that I post their, and that is very rare for an artist to actually talk to his fans.  So I started posting back to questions on the site and the next thing you know, every day there is questions for Cormega.  And it shouldn’t be like that.  Its like everyday is an interview for me.  And the people would be asking me stupid question, so I was let me fall back, because every time you give someone something good they always fuck up.  So I’m posting on the forums, answering back, which is something artists don’t do, and they are still asking me stupid questions.  And someone will ask me one stupid question, and then come back with another seven, and it just got to be too much for me.  So now I answer which questions I want to until people learn respect.  Because I want my site to be popular, because if you look at other artists site, you don’t see people asking “Uhh, do you smoke weed?  What did you eat today?  What do you drive”?  You know what I’m saying?  So I want my site to be a place for people to come together and talk, not, “Yo Mega, what are you doing today”?  “Yo Mega, what do you think about this person”?

HipHopSite: You also give your fans the chance to shop their beats to you as well, which is very unique.  So out of all the tapes you get were any of them actually good?

Well, what I do now is I have a council.  Because I don’t have time to listen to all those beat tapes.  So now I have a council, and they all have a good ear.  Plus, its an uneven number, there are five people.  So basically, the beats go straight to them, and if they think a beat is fire, and everybody else agrees, then they will holler at me about it.  So we are going to keep getting more beats and eventually narrow it dope to the dopest ones and I might end up using them.  So this is a way of giving a fan a shot, but at the same time, I have been doing that my whole career.  If you look at my albums, especially my intros, there is always a new producer.  So I use my intros to introduce somebody new to the world.  On my first album,  J-Love did the intro, which was the first cut he ever did.  On my second album it was Emile, and on Urban Legend I did the same.  So I always give people chances, because that is one of the things I don’t respect about rap now.  People aren’t giving anybody a chance, and that is going to be our downfall.  Rap has become segregated because of it.  If you listen to the radio, they play what they wanna play, but in reality they only play what they are compensated for.  So a lot of people aren’t getting their shot.  I’ll give you a perfect example, when I was on the shelf at Def Jam, one of the things that enabled me to thrive and survive as an artist was the mixtapes.  But nowadays, I get a lot of new artists coming to me and complaining that they have to pay to get on these mixtapes.   That is fucked up!  I used to sell drugs, but I came out of the drug game so I could rap.  I wanted to escape that so I could rap.  But nowadays, you gotta sell drugs to rap!  Cause who the fuck has ten thousand dollars or five thousand dollars just to get on a DJ’s mixtape?  What up and coming artist has that type of money?  So that is one of the things that is killing us as well.  Because what if someone told Biggie, you gotta pay to get on this mixtape?  What if somebody told Rakim, you gotta pay to spit?  How many future stars or legends are we segregating from entering our Hip Hop community?

HipHopSite: What else do you have going on in the future?

We got The Testament coming out, then the DVD called Who Am I? is dropping.  We also got Urban Legend and Donna’s album, and that is what is on my table right now.

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