The Testament

Artist: CormegaTitle: The TestamentRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sean A. Malcolm

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word testament as “an affirmation of beliefs.” Though things happen for a reason, if you ask Cormega—who dubs himself “Queensbridge’s most respected rapper”—his 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 wasn’t the case as Mega’s 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 debut—which, after all the drama surrounding it could be aptly titled Back For The First Time.

Cormega’s strongest attribute has always been the pictures that he paints through his tight wordplay. On the album’s spoken word opener, “Introduction”, he does just that over Nashiem Myrick’s (where has he been?) poignant piano-tinged production—to which a retrospective Mega affirms, “I’m from a place where niggas get it on/And bullshitters get shitted on/And dead niggas keep living on/And memories once the Henny’s pourin’” Other tracks that provide proof of Mega’s 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 90’s content, Mega’s “debut” has one glaring contradiction—two different songs directed at fellow QB lyricist Nasir Jones. Case in point, over Dave Atkinson’s crisp production on “The Testament,” Mega—who deliberately puts both the original ’98 version and the revamped version on the same album—“represents excellence” over “poetry I manifestin’ it, graffiti-filled testament” on both adaptations. However, the remixed version holds true to Cormega’s 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 he’s “one thug showing you love for one reason/for all my niggas that’s locked down and bleeding.” Though, this doesn’t indicate any negatives toward the overall album, it is a bit amusing—considering this project should’ve 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 Mega’s flow not being as developed and unyielding as it is now. Nevertheless, that miniscule flaw, won’t depreciate the value of The Testament, as it has already withstood the test of time.