Where are you from originally?
Well, I was born in Brooklyn. And then I moved all over. I’m definitely a poster child for the 718. You can put it like that.
What were the circumstances that brought you to Queensbridge?
I went to Queensbridge because I have family out there. I guess the economy was better out there than it was in Brooklyn, ‘cause I was hustling. So it was my cousin’s idea for me to move to Queensbridge. Then I started hustling. I mean, I didn’t “start” hustling, but I started hustling in Queensbridge.
Who introduced you to Marley Marl?
I was personally introduced to Marley Marl by a brother named Hank Carter.
Did you guys record a lot of material back then?
Yep, if I didn’t go to jail my first album would have been executive produced by Marley Marl. I was working on my album when I went to jail in 1992.
Is that unreleased album still floating around out there?
It never floated around. Marley’s stuff doesn’t float. He keeps stuff very well vaulted up.
Whenever I meet people from the Bay Area, even if they don’t care for New York rap, they always seem to champion your music on the strength of your collaborations with Jacka. How did you guys end up working together?
I first met [Jacka] many moons ago. When I went out to [the west coast] he showed me love and we got mad cool. Ever since then we just clicked. We did a lot of songs when I went out there, and I got cool with all the Mob Figaz. So people from the Bay that listen to Mob Figaz, they’re definitely going to know who Cormega is.
You randomly appeared on a Lil B song called “I Killed Hip-Hop” back in 2010. Did he reach out to you personally for that feature?
Whenever I’m on a feature, most of the time people reach out to me. I think Lil B just came to me on some real big brother shit. I just wanted to drop a jewel. I didn’t even rap on the song, I just talked and gave him wisdom. That’s what I’ve always done for artists period. I think me and him just had a conversation about hip-hop and how to grow as an artist like I’ve done and will continue to do. Others have done [the same for] me. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Each one teach one. That’s all that was. I respect his grind.
Whatever happened to the female rapper, Doña, who was featured heavily on your Legal Hustle compilation?
Actually, Doña just texted me right before you called. She has two babies. And she actually performed at my show I did in New York within the last couple of months. She’s ready to go. Not to say that she wasn’t onboard before, but she just had to go through the growing pains of the industry. Now she has a clearer understanding.
You once flirted with releasing an album entirely produced by Ayatollah. Was that record ever actually recorded?
Me and Ayatollah never really recorded an album. I think we did a few songs, but it wasn’t for the album. We just did a few and they ended up on other projects or whatever. But if I decide to do another project with a single producer, it would probably be Ayatollah. We have great chemistry together.
Is your album with Large Professor finished yet?
It’ll be turned in by July. So right now we’re in the finishing stages. A lot of vocals are done. A lot of features are already finished. Large Professor is just doing what he does. He’s in his zone trying to just close it out. I think this album is going to stick out like a sore thumb.
How far back do you guys go back?
I’ve been working with Large Pro since 2002, when he was on my True Meaning album. That was the first time I ever recorded with him. But I’ve known him for a while. I didn’t know him very well, but over the years our relationship has grown. That’s my brother. We go back, but now we’re going forward.
Throughout the years, you’ve always brought in various producers to work on your projects. How has working solely with Large Professor differed?
Working with one producer, you’re at the mercy of that one producer. Whereas when you’re working with a bunch of producers... Let’s say y’all don’t have the same work ethic, or if the producer is slow. [The artist] is going to be like “fuck it,” and move on to the next producer. But when you work with just one producer, you have no choice but to deal with that person. If they’re going through something and have to slow up, then you have to wait.
Working with one producer is like being in a relationship. You have to deal with the highs and lows and valleys and peaks of that. But I’ve weathered that storm. It’s been times when I’ve been extremely frustrated, because I definitely wanted my album out earlier. But God works in mysterious ways. [This album] took so long that now I have features that I probably wouldn’t of had if I put [Mega Philosophy] out when I originally intended. Everything works out for a reason.
Can you reveal any of the features on Mega Philosophy?
One of the guys I definitely wanted on the album was Nature. Me and Nature have a very good song on there. It was very important that we did that. It came out dope. And then I got a few other gems up my sleeve. One of my favorite features is someone y’all probably aren’t even [familiar] with. She’s a singer from Zimbabwe. Her name is Shantelle, and she sings incredibly well. I just really wanted a sister from Africa on my album, because at the end of the day, that’s where I’m from. I’m really on my Pan-African shit right now.
My eyes are more open and I’m receptive to the facts, to the truth, and to who I am as a person. I’m trying to do more positive and socially relevant music, as opposed to the typical stuff people would expect from Cormega.
Your last album, Born and Raised, seemed to be a little more mature than your previous work. There was a record on there about your daughter. Would you say Mega Philosophy continues in that direction?
It’s not a continuation of that, but this album is going to push some buttons. Certain songs are pushing the envelope. Like, umm… You’ll see. When the album comes out, we can have a follow-up conversation about it.