Why you should care

Because after a five-year hiatus, Cormega has his sights set on his legacy.

Even devoted hip-hop heads don’t necessarily know who Cormega is. Mention his name in a room full of music addicts, and some just nod their heads. But die-hard fans light up when they hear his name. Cormega isn’t what you would call world famous, but he definitely has a growing list of dedicated listeners. And he’s picking up where he left off five years ago to expand his legacy. He’s starting by releasing his sixth album today: Mega Philosophy.

Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., Cormega — often shorted to “Mega” — grew up alongside rappers Nas, AZ, Capone-N-Norega and Nature. They’ve been battling it out in the same pit for years for the title of top dog. They took separate roads to their respective careers, but Mega’s was bumpier than the rest. Still, he fought long and hard and in 2001 released his debut album, The Realness. And then stuff picked up for him. Five albums, a few mixtapes, a couple of rap beefs and 13 years later, Mega has released Mega Philosophy.

Hip-hop is in dire need of more than just cars, clothes, hos and transient riches.

He calls his new album “an inner challenge … the album that outdoes everything I have ever made.” And he isn’t lying. Granted, Mega’s catalog of work is critically acclaimed and has gained him a very large fan base, but this album has a unique feel to it. The lead single, “Industry,” is a very blunt explanation of what the entertainment industry looks like behind all the glam and glitz. Mega rhymes: “What’s the difference between a label and pimping? You sell yourself. They tell you how to spend it.”

Mega’s honesty flows throughout the entire album. The track “Rise” features the soulful voice of Maya Azucena on the hook as Mega raps about the twisted glorification of growing up in the ghetto, jail and living a tough life. He explains that there is more to life than the negativity he long felt and proclaims that everyone has an opportunity to rise above it. “MARS” features hip-hop veterans AZ, Redman and Styles P and is a combination of the best of all worlds — it’s sure to be the standout single among the bunch. The album has a very conscious flow to it that may not fit everyone’s needs.

Overall, the album, produced by Large Professor, is a pretty great Hip Hop 101 introduction to the form. That’s not to say that what is already being produced in the music world isn’t good enough. But hip-hop is in dire need of more than just cars, clothes, hos and transient riches. It’s in need of more stability and truth — Cormega is more than prepared to provide that.

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