(AllHipHop Features) “We got to get back to our true essence, before everybody and they mama start telling us what Hip Hop is.” Author/lecturer Sadiki Bakari’s passionate speech about how Hip Hop is currently being presented to the masses opens Cormega’s fifth studio album Mega Philosophy.
From the moment the “A New Day Begins” intro track starts it becomes clear Mega is looking to take listeners beyond the swagged out, turnt up affairs many contemporary rap performers rely upon in their musical content.
Mega Philosophy is an album that adopts the approach of Hip Hop serving as a journal for the real life societal concerns and personal issues many people are facing today. Mega’s latest LP also shines a light on valuing knowledge of self and honest artistic expression.
With this album, Cormega takes on the role of Kemetic scholar Imhotep - a sage who uses mystical knowledge and modern understanding to create a longstanding monument that represents the culture’s greatness. Production master Large Professor took complete control of the reigns for Mega Philosophy’s sound, and lyrical wizards AZ, Redman, Styles P, Nature, Raekwon, and Black Rob supply additional power to the project with conjuring guest appearances.
Cormega spoke with AllHipHop.com about his Mega Philosophy album. The East Coast emcee also addressed whether he would be willingly to connect with AZ, Nature, Nas, and Foxy Brown to reform the rap collective known as The Firm, and he shares his intent to be a published writer in the future.
What can listeners expect on your Mega Philosophy album?
They should expect the unexpected. They should not expect what they got on the first Cormega albums.
You’ve been working on this project for a couple of years. What caused the delay for it to be released until now?
I initially wanted the album to come out in 2012, and it just didn’t happen. Also, Large Professor was working on his own album during that time, so his album became the priority. We finished his album then I wanted my album to come out in 2013, but that didn’t happen. Large Professor’s a genius, and I’m in no position to rush a genius. I just went with the flow, and we ended up with the project we have now.
It got to the point where the label wasn’t even concerned, because I started letting them hear little snippets of the songs as they were being done. The songs were knocking the label out, and they said, “Wow, just take your time. Whenever it’s ready we’ll do it.” I was happy I got the support from everybody behind me. Now the album’s about to hit stores.
What inspired the idea to do a joint effort with Large Professor?
Not only have I been a fan of Large Professor forever, but when you get the chance to work with somebody great, you have to seize the opportunity. It’s like sports. If you’re an all-star, and another all-star wants to play with you and it turns out right - something magical happens. I was not going to turn down an opportunity to do an album with Large Professor. No matter what.
Did you approach him about the project or did he approach you?
We did a song on The True Meaning [“The Come Up”]. That was the first song I ever did with Large Professor. The feedback was cool, and then we did something together on the Legal Hustle compilation, but it wasn’t produced by him. People liked that.
The second Cormega/Large Professor song was on my album Born and Raise. We did a song called “Journey”. The feedback was bananas. Being that the feedback was so crazy, we were just having random conversation, and we said, “Let’s see what happens.”
I started getting beats from Large which I always do. I started really absorbing the beats and taking my time with what I wanted to write. We knocked out a few songs and the songs we were doing - the feedback was so crazy we just said “‘F’ it.” We made the album. I created a Soundcloud page and leaked the song with Raekwon. I didn’t push it to the blogs. I just put it on Soundcloud, and they picked it up from there. The feedback was good. Then I leaked the song “Industry.”
I love “Industry,” but just because I love it doesn’t mean you’ll love it. The overwhelming response and respect I got for that song from artists, producers, engineers, writers, etc. - it was like a 99.5% positive feedback.
The song “Rap Basquiat.” That’s a song I underestimated. I thought it was cool, but it wasn’t one of my favorite songs on the album. I did that song so I could go crazy lyrically like I’m in a cypher. Just spazz out and have fun.
Are there any particular tracks on the album that are your favorites? Ones that you find yourself listening to more than some of the others?
Honestly, I don’t even listen to my own music. If you were to say, “Mega, I got a $1 million for you right now if you could tell me the exact date that you listened to your last album,” I’m not going to get the $1 million.
The song that I’m most proud of though is “More,” because it speaks for us Black people, for us melanated people. It speaks for us, and we needed that at this point and time. The joke is on us right now. There’s so much mockery. There’s so much subliminal hatred and so much in-your-face hatred and disrespect for us that we have to start respecting ourselves more. I wanted to lead by example.
I don’t know how that song will be received though, because the sad reality is when you do positive stuff or try to uplift your people nobody gives a f**k. It’s a song that I could have played for my grandma. I e-mailed it to elder people in my family and told them to listen to it.
You have AZ and Nature on the album. Would you be open to doing a full reunion with The Firm?
I’m a businessman. I’m open to doing a reunion with anybody. You know how people in jail have a calendar on the wall waiting for freedom; I’m definitely not waiting for no calls from anybody. I’m moving forward.
Are you still interested in writing a book? I know you talked about that at one point.
I definitely want to write a book. If I knew someone that has access to publishing books, I’d probably have three books out right now. I can give you the book to read. It’s done. It’s nothing nobody would expect either. It’s not a tell-all book. If somebody would give me access to make books, I guarantee I would have at least five books out within the next five years.
Would these be fiction or nonfiction?
Nonfiction. I might even give you some fiction, but a lot of the stuff I’m giving is real. It’s not going to be no "Queensbridge shoot 'em up s**t" or Mega talking about his conflicts. None of that s**t.
I was actually doing an autobiography with a guy, but it was taking too long so I said, "F**k it.” I didn’t want to do it anymore. There’s no need for me to do an autobiography yet, because my story isn’t even halfway done.
I know that I could write books that could aid a lot of independent artists, because I’ve done a lot of things before other artists. I could document it and show them how to follow my formula.
The industry doesn’t give me props. I was the first rapper out making mixtapes without an album out. That’s not debatable. I had a mixtape out during the “Survival of the Illest Tour.” That was ‘98.
I’m one of the first rappers from the East Coast that went independent and really took it to another level. I was the first rapper that seen the Internet as a viable way of reaching out to the fans. I actually used to get dissed by people on forums for being on the Internet. They were like, “Mega got too much time on his hands." That was an actual quote.
I was one of the first rappers to walk around with my own camera with Jordan Tower. So there’s so many avenues to show artists how to do stuff.
In an interview a few years ago, you said you didn’t consider yourself a Hip Hop legend. Do you still feel that way now?
I definitely still don’t consider myself a legend. I think I’m a veteran. Sometimes I’m hard on myself, but sometimes I’m real with myself. I’m not proud that I took five years to come out with another album. I’m never going to do that again.
If I make three more albums that are this caliber, and I get that world recognition then maybe I’ll get more comfortable with [the legend label]. But right now Chuck D is a legend - Eric B. & Rakim, Slick Rick, LL Cool J. I don't’ measure up to them. To me I don’t.
There’s fans that tell me, “you’re in my Top 5” or “you’re my favorite rapper” or “you’re the best,” but I don’t let that get to me, because I don’t believe that. I think I have a lot more work to do before I can validate myself as a legend. For the time being, I have no problem being a veteran. I like veteran. I’m not a legend yet.
Cormega’s Mega Philosophy will be released Tuesday, July 22 on iTunes.
Follow Cormega on Twitter @realcormega.