familiar with the career of Cory “Cormega” McKay knows he
has an ear for good music. Whether he was beefing with longtime friend
Nas, becoming a pioneer of the independent Hip-Hop game, or
struggling to have his classic debut finally see a release date, Cormegas
beats have always been on point.
never quite reaching to the level of fame many predicted after a well-known
guest appearance on It Was Written, Cormega has always been revered
by fans for his truth-laced lyricism and his impeccable taste for timeless
musical backdrops. Never one to follow trends, Mega is one of few artists
always willing to give unknown producers a chance to prove themselves.
that he is a true beat connoisseur, it makes sense that Cormega
would choose to drop an instrumental album comprised of both old and
new joints, highlighting some of the best new comers and consistent
old-timers. Motivated by a duty to give something back to the culture
and the people, but also to fulfill a contractual obligation, Cormega
gave AllHipHop.com some insight into his thought process for the new
project, and explains why it takes more than a hot sample to be a great
AllHipHop.com: You’ve done a lot of interviews with AllHipHop.com, so
I wanted to start out by reading you something that you said to us back
in 2002. “I select my beats with my heart. A lot of people be d**kriders
in the industry. I don’t go off of names. When it comes to music, you
have to close your eyes and absorb that s**t.” Can you elaborate
a little on that today?
Cormega: It’s from me being
an artist and around a lot of artists, and seeing how they really be
d**kriding. Like, if you name a producer right now that’s hot, they
might not even be hot last year, they might be straight new. But he
might have done something for somebody that’s poppin’ right now, and
motherf**kers will just take what he gives them, just to be a part of
it. And that’s one of the things that always turned me off. There’s
new guys that bring so much to the table that never get an opportunity
to play their beats. Like I said, I be around artists, and I’ve seen
artists get a CD and throw that s**t right out soon as we leave them,
or throw it out the car window. I’d be like “Wow. At least
give him a chance before you throw out the car window.”
AllHipHop.com: Would you pick
it up and listen to it?
Cormega: No, not necessarily.
If it ain’t for me then it ain’t for me. If it’s not given to me, then
I don’t want it. I just take what’s given to me. I’m not gonna act like
I’m a saint, trust me, I’ve thrown my share of CDs out the window too,
but it was for good reason (laughs).
AllHipHop.com: For beat selection,
what’s the process usually like for you? Do you give anybody a chance
that passes along a new CD?
Cormega: I think my history
speaks for itself. If you look at my albums, every Intro is introducing
a new producer to the world. If you look at all my albums, there’s always
new producers on my work. Because the way I see it, somebody gave me
a chance when I was new, so it’s like you’ve got to do stuff like that.
AllHipHop.com: Some of the
guys you’ve put on have really blown up, like Emile for one.
Cormega: Exactly. That goes
to show how knowledgeable you are about producers. Like some people
don’t even know about Emile, or they will spell his name wrong. He’s
putting a lot of work in, he’s a beast. Sha Money XL, the first song
he did was “Angel Dust” when I was on Def Jam. He was a humble,
cool kid, he came in there and we kicked it, and he gave me a beat CD.
I could have did the usual rapper thing and thrown somebody’s CD out.
But the way I see it, you get what you do. I believe in karma, so I
wouldn’t want anybody throwing my CD without listening to it. So I listened
to it, and the rest is history. Now he might hire me one day, s**t (Laughs).
AllHipHop.com: The first track you ever produced on The Testament
Cormega: Yup, “62 Pick
Up.” But I can’t take all the credit for that. My man, David Atkinson
played on an extremely big role in that song getting done. Every song
I’ve ever produced, I’ve always had contributors to it. That song was
actually played over, then we freaked it, and then I put the drums the
way I wanted it. So that song was played over. People might think it
was sampled, but there was a whole production behind that song.
AllHipHop.com: How did producing
your own tracks come up? Was it just after being in the booth for so
long and on the mic, you just wanted to get behind the boards?
Cormega: Naw, I think it was
just out of necessity. At the time, you have to understand when we was
doing The Realness album, my back was against the wall and I
wanted to come out with the album quick. A lot of people don’t know
this, but The Realness was done in like two weeks, two and a
half weeks tops. If you add up every session we recorded during The
Realness, it wouldn’t be more than 14 days. My back was against
the wall, and that’s one of the songs that I always wanted to do. That
beat was always in my mind, and that’s just something I wanted to do.
So we knocked it out, and I didn’t think it was going to come out like
that. But the rest is history.
AllHipHop.com: So are you still
planning on doing some production for upcoming projects as well?
Cormega: I’ve got ideas in
my head for what I want to do, but right now my focus is putting out
an album. Because I took so damn long, and I know the saying “Out
of sight out of mind.” That old saying is very significant in the
rap game, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: No doubt. Let’s
talk about your instrumental album. There’s usually a story behind putting
out an album with no lyrics, so is there something behind putting out
the Got Beats? album?
Cormega: I did the Got Beats?
thing because right now with the label situation I have, I have to put
out product. I don’t have an artist deal, I have a real label deal.
Finally I got my own label deal, so I want to do projects that I would
be curious about and interested in as a consumer, and I wanted to do
projects that up-and-coming rappers want to be a part of. I notice a
lot of MCs that I’ve run into, new guys always have a CD on them with
beats so they can rhyme off it. And as you know, the mixtape scene has
been damn near decimated in New York. So I had to figure out a way to
get beats to people. And plus a lot of people had always contacted me
about beats, because they’ve said “Oh, Mega’s got a good ear for
beats.” So what I’ve said is, I’m going to put out a series of
beat CDs, with some new producers and some well-known producers on there,
and I’ll sneak in a few tracks that people have been fiending for the
instrumentals to. This will be my way of giving up some beats to the
community, so they can rap off of those and do them.
AllHipHop.com: So what producers
did you reach out to for the project?
Cormega: I got beats from Premier, Emile, J-Love, Jae Supreme, J. Waxx
Garfield. I’ve got an Alchemist beat, Moonshine. The newest guy that
I’ve got on there is (C Mil). Remember his name. He is a beast! A few
others, another new guy called Kidd. Those are some of the producers
that I’m working with right now, but I’m already taking beats for the
AllHipHop.com: So how does
the relationship with them go for sales? Do you just give a little back
to each person that contributed to the project?
Cormega: It depends, it depends.
Some of the producers that I got beats from, I already paid for the
beats, so it was whatever. And one thing about me is that I don’t play
with other people’s publishing. Your publishing is your publishing.
When it sells, you get your publishing also. But when you put an instrumental
album, you also got to understand that the likelihood of it being a
super successful project is very low. I’m not standing here with my
fingers crossed hoping it will sell it a lot. If it does, that would
be a blessing. But I don’t expect my sales to be anywhere consistent
with Cormega [the rapper] sales.
AllHipHop.com: I think it’s
dope when dudes like Dilla can have a whole album of instrumentals that
just feel right on their own. But it’s also cool when people drop instrumentals
of complete albums that inspire MCs and DJs, and that they can use for
their own creative purposes. I guess that’s the feeling you had putting
together this project?
Cormega: Yeah, it’s definitely
a feel-good project. It’s definitely a good vibe. I’m just proud that
I did something to contribute back to some of the elements. Everybody
is so focused on a rap, but that’s just one of the terms in hip-hop.
We are all abandoning a lot of the things that made us love this thing.
The producer plays a significant role in this, and the DJs play a significant
role, and etc. etc. So I think that’s one of the reasons why I did this
AllHipHop.com: In your opinion,
is there something that distinguishes a good producer from a great producer?
And if so, what you think the differences are?
Cormega: There’s a difference
between a producer and a great producer. But lately I’ve been finding
there are some people that just sample good, and then there is a producer.
A producer doesn’t even want somebody else to mix their song. A producer
tries to get every element and sound out of the song. A producer will
change a song. Havoc from Mobb Deep, he is a producer. Ayatollah is
a sampler. Nottz is a producer. He is one of the most talented people
I’ve ever been around. He’s on my new album. Producers put their heart
and soul and it. Like Alchemist, he’s a talented sampler. Some of the
beats I’ve gotten from him a few years ago, I’ll know that’s a Teddy
Pendergrass sample. Or the people that just sample something, and you
hear the vocal sample in it and that’s the chorus, that’s easy. I could
do that myself. The producer pushes the boundaries where you’ll be like
“Damn.” Not to take anything away from samplers, because I
love them and I work with them. But there’s a difference between a sampler
and a producer.