Some may know that Cormega is basically my favourite emcee of all time. His street narrative, poetry and emotion clearly suggest too many hip hop fans that he is quite possibly the most under rated emcee ever. To solidify this information all one needs to do is check his classic album The Realness and his near classic follow up The True Meaning. Even his early albums such as The Testament hold weight to the above statement. Having kept quite for over two years many were anxious to hear Cormegas next effort on what fans were told to be called Legal Hustle. Named after the record label he resides with many expected a lot out of Megas album as he had yet to disappoint, unlike fellow friend-turned-foe Nas. What fans got was a VERY good Mega album, and when I say Mega album I mean it. Studying the albums, the songs that are Mega solos or the ones were he takes centre stage are flawless and the best on the album. The albums downfall is Megas decision to let fellow label mates Dona and Jacka tag along. Now these guys are plain horrible, but in having them on the album one comes to realise that the album is average not because of Mega, but precisely because its a joint effort. Mega himself even said it was a mixtape showing that Cormega himself is still standing strong while his musical friends fall flat on their faces.
Track Listing & Rating
1) Intro Feat. Dona and Miz 4 Stars
2) Beautiful Mind 5 Stars
3) Let It Go Feat. M.O.P 4 Stars
4) The Bond Feat. Dona 1 Star
5) Bring It Back 5 Stars
6) Hoody Feat. Dona 1 Star
7) Dangerous Feat. Vybz Kartel and Unda P 3 Stars
8) Tony Montana Feat. Ghostface 4.5 Stars
9) Personified Feat. Dona 4 Stars
10) Stay Up Feat. Kira 5 Stars
11) Deep Blue Seas Feat. Kurupt & Jayo Felony 3 Stars
12) More Crime Feat. Jacka 1 Star
13) Monsters Ball Feat. Banger, Lake and Main O 3 Stars
14) Redemption Feat. AZ 5 Stars
15) Respect Me Feat. Dona 1.5 Stars
16) Sugar Ray Hearns Feat. Large Professor 5 Stars
17) The Machine 2 Stars
The album kicks off to an amazing start with the "Intro". Produced by The Feil Brothers, Ax (Tha Bull) and Mega himself the production is simply mesmerizing. Here a high pitched womans voice introduces the short track over trumpets, saxophones, light piano keys and a light hi-hat. I mean this is real musical stuff people, the sort of music classics are built over. Mega himself kicks in and like the womans voice at the beginning who asks the reader if she can share her life story, he does just that. Living up to his street poetry name he pushes through jaw-dropping street poetry with lyrics such as Love is love even when people hatin, ni--as be slingin daily with no hopes except for beating cases. I frequently see places with single mothers and teams of babies, and fatherless homes are as common as police who hate us. I mean this is classic material Im excited, Im on the edge of my seat, Im
.wait!? The beat changes, theres gun shots and the street poetry is brought to an end. Instead sharp violins and electric keys shoot over the melodic production and a womans deep voice heavily raps over the top. My first reaction is to try and grab for the old production and my immediate second reaction is to simply ask why the fu-k are you!?. Here lyrics are wannabe gangsta and my interest immediately turns off
.its bad people, real bad. However the first half is so beautiful that my rating eventually ended up being four stars, eh what can you do?
After the last half of the Intro being such a disaster Mega picks up the pieces well with the obligatory first single Let It Go. Here the hard men of hip hop themselves, M.O.P join Mega for the track that you can see pounding through many cars on street corners. Here we see Megas traditional street poetry style contrast with the edgy, frantic and hardcore style of M.O.P. By doing this the sound of the track comes off as unique and very listenable. Emile produces the track lacing it with a womans truly addictive, distorted high pitched voice playing over a pounding electric backboard and a sharp hi-hat. Here Mega truthfully talks about his situation in hip hop and how to survive he needs the key to longevity. I find this intriguing as hes not saying he has it but needs it, showing a thoughtful side to Mega showing he knows time is of the essence. On the other hand M.O.P come off as chaotic and witty as ever finding the time to pass through an obvious diss to Rockafella who are prolonging the release for their album. The two styles together are effective and enjoyable but still not classic.
Bring It Back produced by the under rated genius Ayatollah is truly one of the greatest highlights on the album. Here Mega takes street poetry and consciousness to a whole new level. Here he talks about many different artists of old school hip hop that paved the way and were successful without compromising hip hop as an art form. He weaves his words through Ayatollahs addictive and memorable soulful production. Made up of a mans deep voice and ringing piano keys and light scratches, the production is up beat but very musical at the same time. Over this Mega spits quite possibly the best line on the whole album and one of the best in his career. The Main Source had a maze of rapping and beats, not just basic sampling. Artists need to regain the passion, it doesnt matter if your chain is platinum. If what you say is average you will not be mentioned with the greatest rappers. When hearing this I cant help but laugh because what he says is so obviously true, yet as the saying goes sometimes it takes a genius to state the obvious. And in this case this is certainly true as many rappers still fit into the category Mega demeans so rightly.
To add to the array of guests on the album is the consistent yet rather obscure Ghostface Killah whos joins Mega on Tony Montana. Even before we start I do have to say that it annoys me that Mega uses the same name on this track that he did with a track on his album The Testament. Anyway, moving on, the beat on this track is truly a marvel. The Feil Brothers come along again with Ayatollah-esque production with a womans humming voice over a slamming drum loop and light guitar plucks. In all honesty Ghostfaces verse seems very rushed and doesnt make a lot of sense. Its not what hes saying thats the problem, its just that he intentionally delivers it in a Twista style manner. But the production is smooth and slow and isnt reader for the speed, the contrast stops this song from being full marks. However Mega doesnt fail and brings similes and deep meaning to his verse, bringing so much emotion you would think that it was his last.
Megas conscious and thoughtful style stays a little longer than I expected but its more than a pleasant surprise. On arguably the best song Stay Up Mega is joined by Kira for material that would fit nicely in on albums like The Realness. Cormega himself tastes the production boards with deep guitar plucks, a cracking, maraca-esque hi-hat and light keys. Kiras voice is simply beautiful and soothes the song, blowing over Megas retrospective lyrics. Here Mega proves why he remains at the top with the greatest emcees. He pours his heart over the track talking about close friends that have died and how he desperately trying to move on. Aint too many real ni--as, is my kind extinct? Im alive yet a part of me died with spank. Im still in the game, relentless when my pen hits the paper with vengeance. Its completely mellow and truly just beautiful.
More than one weaker moment on the album raises its ugly head in the form of More Crime. I dont really know what to say with this one but the weakest song on the album. Fellow label mate Jacko certainly mixes street poetry for wannabe gangsta much like Dona. This guy has possibly the worst voice and flow Ive ever heard apart from Tony Yayo. I mean instead of sculpting his voice and lyrics around the microphone like a good emcee would he hits the beat at full force taking no time a care. The light guitars and jiggling keys are just not ready for it, and the outcome is horrible. I mean this is G-Unit type garbage, skip for your own sake if not mine!
Thankfully the album picks up with possibly my favourite song on the album Redemption. Here AZ shows up to support Mega in the truest way by dropping an irresistible verse over amazing production. Once I knew that AZ had joined Mega on this one I smile as its nice to see that not everyone who knew Mega in the past turned their backs on him. Here Emile turns out to be a shinning star dropping some of the smoothest, dopest production ever. Here sweet violins drop over sprinkling keys and a light drum loop, oh god if I could even try to sum up how beautiful it is. Here Mega drops pure street poetry alongside AZ, though Mega outshines him. He talks of the crime hes done and seen and how he wishes forgiveness from god. His imagery is simply mind blowing talking about how the streets are so dead that you can smell the stench from the decay. I mean, have a look for yourself. Plans to conquer the street branded in my head like the mark of the beast, knowledge so ominous I plot in my sleep. When I eat my ni--az eat we take the bitter with the sweet, If I die few'll cry, less'll do a bid with me'.
Unfortunately the album comes to a close with the very weak The Machine. Here Dona purges the beautiful orcastrated production of harps, violins and piano keys with here horrible voice and bad lyrics. She talks about how people try to mess with her and she shows them who theyre messing with. By this point I cant stand this woman. Miz isnt much better talking the same gangster trash about how hell take out anyone against his fam. Yawn. It doesnt even matter than Mega drops a good last verse because his good verse is cancelled out by the bad, what a tragic way to end the album.
Legal Hustle truly is an advertisement on why an artist shouldnt have a collaboration album. Purely, the problem with this album is nothing to do with Cormega but with his guests. First of all there is too many guest appearances on this period. Mega I dont care if its a mixtape its simply a bad idea. Two, on the most part the guest appearances are bad. Apart from Large Professor, AZ and M.O.P the rest are either take or leave or absolute garbage. Dona, Jacka and Miz dont help this album at all, taking the fine line between street poetry and wannabe gangster that Mega himself has perfected and shoving it down the toilet. Their appearances come off as cheap G-Unit attempts and thats really saying something. However, Cormega is still Cormega and every verse he touches he crafts a story of life, death and being. His street poetry, emotion and intelligence come off on this album in the form of some superb tracks. He is helped greatly by the production on this album. Of all the things to say, the production on this album is consistent in the fact that it is simply beautiful. Its very musical, melodic and simply real. If youre a Cormega fan your find yourself listening to this more than once and if not a little less. Remember Corey has not gone and even with this album Mega remains one of the last shinning suns I can feel.
Great Music To Play While: Thanking the lord himself for Cormega.