My how things have changed. Six years ago, Cormega was a member of rap super group The Firm, and he was signed to the most storied label in hip-hop, Def Jam. But even with a deafening buzz, he hopelessly waited as the release date for his debut album, The Testament, came and went. Nothing. Since then, Cormega has trekked the underground in search of musical freedom.
But Mega isn’t bitter. That’s because his two independent solo albums combined have sold more than 250,000 copies and he’s won a Source Award—all without spending money for radio-play promotion or a pricey video. Conversely, the same music industry that shunned him is now in shambles. Major record companies began losing money and merging due to the emergence of rampant Internet piracy and illegal downloading. Note to the Recording Industry Association of America: You can learn a thing or two about the music biz from Mega.
AllHipHop.com: So where have you been? What made you take a year off as far releasing an album?
Cormega: My daughter was born. She was actually born late 2002, so 2003, I just really wanted to just chill with my daughter and I didn’t want to rush my album. I didn’t want to take anything from my consistency or deprive the fans of a good album. So I said, F*ck it, let me just chill and spend a little time with my daughter. That enabled me to make the album better. The album is going to be incredible when it comes out. I just took that break cause of my daughter. And cause I had a lot of pressure under me to make a good third album, so I just wanted to get my mind right.
AllHipHop.com: Where do you feel the pressure coming from? Yourself? The fans? Or just cause it’s a third album?
Cormega: All of the above. Cause I always challenge myself. But also, history will show that if an artist comes with a third album then he has staying power. Everybody can make two albums. I don’t give a f*ck if your first album was garbage, the label is gonna give you a second chance. Then after that, that’s when it tells if you gonna be here for a while, or if you not. So the third album has to be real defining, you know what I’m saying? So my third album, right now I think it’s the best album I ever made.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of defining, you album titles are usually real definitive. Is that something you take time in, coming up with concept or ideas for the album titles?
Cormega: Yeah, exactly. Because an album title has to reflect the artist, in my opinion. So an album title is usually one of the hardest things for me to come up with. Like Urban Legend doesn’t just fit so perfect. The Realness, The True Meaning, those titles just fit, so I just ran with them.
AllHipHop.com: What’s been your decision—with the Ayatolla and Mega EP, the Legal Hustle Compilation, and your solo album—behind your thought process as to when to release each one?
Cormega: I’mma keep it real with AllHipHop.com. I’mma say something that I’ve never ever said before. The Ayatolla project, I’ve basically…um…I basically…. How should I put this? I basically fell back from it, because Ayatolla’s work ethic and mine weren’t consistent, you know what I’m saying? Like, I’m the type of dude, if you a producer, let’s say we gonna do an EP, all I need is…what’s an EP, seven songs? So it’s like once you do a beat, I’m basically ready to go. Any n#### that’s worked with me, or any producer will tell you I’m a work-a-holic. So it’s like Ayatolla, like, once we started working on the album and then I got him a little bread from somebody…. I gave him some paper, it’s like, he started slacking, in my opinion. I don’t know if it was from the paper, or whatever. But I don’t got time for—like say I go to the studio and you suppose to come to the studio and you don’t show up. Like, I don’t got time for stuff like that. I said, you know what? I could be doing other things then to be trying to wait for somebody to come to the studio and this and that. That’s the only thing that’s held that up. Like, if he was consistent with the s### he was suppose to do, then the Ayatolla project would have been done. So right now, that’s not one of my priorities right now. When he gets his s### together—
AllHipHop.com: Then it’ll be done.
AllHipHop.com: I’ve read a couple of interviews where you mention your work ethic not being consistent with other artists. Can you describe exactly what your work ethic is like on a day for you?
Cormega: Everything I do, I’m just on time with it. If I got a studio locked out, they’ll be like, ‘Yo Mega, the session starts at 3:30 and it ends at one in the morning.’ I’m gonna be there at 3:30. I might be there at 3 o’clock. Yo, I’m typically in the studio before the engineer. I like to do what I do. It ain’t just a check for me. It’s professionalism, you know what I’m saying? If an artist is supposed to be at a session at a certain time and they don’t show up, or they come hours late, I’m going to be offended. And certain artists don’t take sh*t as serious at me. So it’s like, if you don’t respect your craft, how am I gonna respect your craft. Like Mobb Deep, I could work with them all day. Because I know how they work. Havoc used to be like an artist that shows up late. He don’t even show up late no more. Like last session I had with Havoc, he was there before me. I couldn’t even believe it. There was a time when we all had dreams of being rappers. If somebody would have told us be somewhere, we’d have been there at that time. Whether it was an audition, a talent show, whatever. But now that we on, now that we’re in this game that we all dreamed of being in, now people is f*cking up and coming late, and not doing the things we suppose to be doing and not taking responsibility with their art? I don’t got time for that sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: If you do want you’re “suppose” to do as a rapper, you’re gonna make money. Do you think more rappers are in it today just to make money as opposed making history?
Cormega: Hell yeah, I do. I mean look at they sh*t. You got artists that’ll just f*ck with whoever is hot. And the person who is hot might not even be talented, they just might be hot, you know what I’m saying? So dudes will sacrifice they dignity and do a song with that guy, but not do a song with a legend. Or not do a song with somebody that’s really talented. You got people that’s taking wack beats from producers that are just hot because of their name. And they not taking beats from more renown producers, or producers that have been giving us dope hip-hop records. I’m not in this for the five minutes of fame. I’m in this for the longevity and I want to leave a mark in this. If I’m a basketball player, when I retire, I want to be a Hall of Famer. Even if I don’t win a ring, let me be a Hall of Famer. Or let me be an artist that’s legitimate; that’s name is legitimately spoken on as being talented. I don’t wanna just be here for this short time and not make my mark in hip-hop, cause then my purpose isn’t served.