Cormega: Got Beats?

Anyone 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, Cormega’s beats have always been on point.       Despite never quite […]


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, Cormega’s

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 some insight into his thought process for the new

project, and explains why it takes more than a hot sample to be a great

producer. You’ve done a lot of interviews with, 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.” 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). 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. 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). 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. 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


, 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. 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? 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. 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

second volume. 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. 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

project. 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.