Cormega’s anticipated Raw Forever celebrates the ten-year anniversary of his 2001 opus The Realness – a marriage of the respected old and the refreshing new. Twenty-two tracks of familiar hits with a sprinkling of band-assisted fresh material break the two-years since Cory McKay’s last release. The two-disc album should appease Cormega supporters, but definitely leave them wanting more.
Disc one compiles eleven of Mega’s most memorable songs from The Realness, the acclaimed 2002 follow-up The True Meaning, the long deferred The Testament; which finally saw the light of day in 2005, and 2009’s Born and Raised. Hits like “Love Is Love,” “Dead Man Walking,” and “Get Out My Way” will remind fans of why they were drawn to the Queensbridge raised emcee when he first emerged. But when recalling Mega’s standout work, a few gems like the Nas fueled “Thun & Kicko” and “Love In Love Out,” “Angel Dust” and “A Thin Line” are noticeably absent.
On disc two The Revelations up the ante, providing live accompaniment to complement Cory’s relaxed flow, laden with Nike references. Still, the most surprising aspect of the second disc is that the tracks aren’t named, but rather identified by Roman numerals. Don’t expect a completely different sound; even this disc has adaptations mixed within. Live instruments turned samples turned back to live instruments can get a bit cumbersome on tracks like “IV;” formerly known as “What Did I Do,” but the band makes the most of what they’re working with. The last two tracks are instrumentals, which allow The Revelations to showcase their unique talents as a unit.
It is the features that bring life to this project. Most remarkable are “I;” a typical example of the introspective Cormega’s musings on hood psychosocial relations, and “III” featuring Lil Fame of MOP and Baby Pun; with hard electric guitar riffs and a strong driving bass line sure to get heads nodding. Also notable are “VI” with assists from AZ and Nature – a nostalgic sound reminiscent of collaborations of the past, and “VII” with Havoc, Tragedy Khadafi and Blaq Poet. The Revelations aptly update this groove and give it a mature feel.
Raw Forever is a must have for Cormega faithfuls. He stays true to his winning formula, and the guest appearance roster is enough to excite even the casual listener. Paired with a live band his music evolves into adult contemporary tales of the streets. We only wish the project was more a step into the future than a blast from the past.
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