Artist: CormegaTitle: The TestamentRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sean A. Malcolm
Websters Dictionary defines the word testament as an affirmation of beliefs. Though things happen for a reason, if you ask Cormegawho dubs himself Queensbridges most respected rapperhis official first album while a then Def Jam artist, The Testament (Legal Hustle), should have been released before the turn of the 21st Century. Unfortunately, that wasnt the case as Megas project was shelved and after five years with no album in sight he was granted a release. Nearly a decade later, and an undisclosed amount of money to buy his album back from Def Jam, Mega finally releases his original debutwhich, after all the drama surrounding it could be aptly titled Back For The First Time.
Cormegas strongest attribute has always been the pictures that he paints through his tight wordplay. On the albums spoken word opener, Introduction, he does just that over Nashiem Myricks (where has he been?) poignant piano-tinged productionto which a retrospective Mega affirms, Im from a place where niggas get it on/And bullshitters get shitted on/And dead niggas keep living on/And memories once the Hennys pourin Other tracks that provide proof of Megas penchant for spinning vivid tales of his trife life and unimaginable experiences in Queensbridge include the Hill Street Blues sampled 62 Pick Up, where Mega Montana testifies on his own behalf to the county court before his sentence is handed down. The gun-blazing Dead Man Walking, finds Mega with revenge on his mind after surviving a shootout while the collabos Mega conducts with Fatal Hussein (Every Hood) and Mobb Deep (Killaz Theme and Angel Dust) give listeners more visuals of his struggles.
Yet, while The Testament could be considered a throwback album due to its late 90s content, Megas debut has one glaring contradictiontwo different songs directed at fellow QB lyricist Nasir Jones. Case in point, over Dave Atkinsons crisp production on The Testament, Megawho deliberately puts both the original 98 version and the revamped version on the same albumrepresents excellence over poetry I manifestin it, graffiti-filled testament on both adaptations. However, the remixed version holds true to Cormegas current thoughts of Nas, in comparison to the original: The streets raised me/made me/the weak praise me/Indeed it was written you would one day betray me. This is a stark contrast to the, no pun intended, love he gives his former Firm associate on One Love, (which is a follow-up track to Nas seminal hit of the same name, from the classic Illmatic) where Mega declares to Esco on the hook that hes one thug showing you love for one reason/for all my niggas thats locked down and bleeding. Though, this doesnt indicate any negatives toward the overall album, it is a bit amusingconsidering this project shouldve been released almost ten years ago, when things were copasetic between the two.
Within that decade, many have witnessed Mega growth as an MC with his Indie classics The Realness and The True Meaning. Listening to The Testament can initially seem odd due to the younger Megas flow not being as developed and unyielding as it is now. Nevertheless, that miniscule flaw, wont depreciate the value of The Testament, as it has already withstood the test of time.