Let us start with the beat. Before Dr. Dre invented g-funk, he had the last say on that superhard, James Brown-based b-boy boom bap that New York producers like Marley Marl, Kurtis Mantronik, Paul C and The 45 King had defined earlier. This was what the world first knew Dr. Dre for. He took that style to a new level. When you listen to the groundbreaking, funk-as-punk masterpiece Straight Outta Compton, the snares hit your cranium harder, the bass slaps heavier in your chest, and the loops come out cleaner, funkier. As RZA once put it in an interview: nobody fills up your whole car like Dr. Dre. The title track might be the hardest beat ever cooked up (even if the doctor made serious attempts to top himself with Deep Cover, Pump Pump, Natural Born Killaz – imagine if he gave something in that weight class to Tupac Shakur), and the man responsible for it is better known for introducing laidback orchestrations and Nate Dogg’s smooth crooning to the game, or helping with the musical backdrop for The Eminem Show, than for the production that brought N.W.A. to the attention of the F.B.I.
“I rep the streets, ’til I rest in peace! If you wanna bring your west and heat, my projects be the last place you ever see!“
Raised in the crack wars of New York, just out of jail (where he had been the boxing champ), Mega Montana was now set against friends turned foes and a record industry most eager to fuck him over. Before he recorded Tha Realness – one of the most heartfelt and powerful albums ever recorded – Cormega was spitting with a whole other kind of ferocity. If you compare his early freestyles with the Cormega from The True Meaning and Legal Hustle you can see that his delivery is rawer, straight aggression, as if he had beef with every person in the room. The animal, reptile, killer instinct is in every bar. It was only right for him to make Straight Outta QB.
Some recordings from this era displays a certain sloppiness, a syllable out of place here and there. This is typical for rappers not so comfortable in the studio. After all, Cormega had spent his last years administrating drug wars and going through the prison system, more busy with surviving than with perfecting his flow. However, that nervousness cannot be found on this track. His mic presence is magnetic, the delivery impeccable, the flow without weaknesses. Every syllable is in its exact place, laid down hard like the bricks that make a prison wall. Brute force. Raw power, stomping your enemies into the ground. Adrenaline. Aggression. I will kill you. I will survive.
It is easy to criticize violent music. At the same time, the critic has probably never “felt the power of invisibility, clutching a gun like, fuck it – it’s him or me“. The rapper did not choose the concrete jungle, crack, hand cannons; he was born there. If from a nicer area, other, more socially well adjusted topics would have been dealt with. To his favor, Cormega only relates things that he has experienced, that he has seen up close in the flesh (“I possess the ghetto essence of that which I portray“), and does it with a passion for his craft, never giving in to gimmicks, poses, trends, empty bragging, always choosing his words carefully, as a means to paint pictures, passing on life lessons, and trying to uplift his listeners. Still, we sure miss the incomparable anger and energy that we hear in his old freestyles.
Cormega – Straight Outta QB
Cormega – Freestyle over Deep Cover
“My tounge’ll leave a razor sliced on mics…“