Cormega

Born and Raised

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AllMusic Review by

The third official studio LP from acclaimed Queensbridge rapper Cormega seems to do everything right. Kicking off with spoken accolades from the founding father of Queens hip-hop, Marley Marl, who provides all the energy and anticipation of a boxing announcer's introduction, Mega brings heat from the gate, announcing "This is my defining moment." From there, the monotoned lyricist shows his skills on an extended metaphor joint that imagines cocaine as a seductive female on the slick, L.E.S.-produced "Girl" before turning sensitive alongside Havoc ("Go ahead show that love/Stop tryin' a be a tough guy") on the heartfelt "Love Your Family." From there, things turn rowdy with Mega passing the mike to M.O.P.'s Lil' Fame over a hard-rock-infused beat by Easy Mo Bee on "Get It In." The other half of M.O.P., Fizzy Womack, takes a turn behind the boards, providing a jazzy beatscape whose piercing saxophone line provides the perfect backdrop for Cormega's poignant storytelling on "The Other Side." Elsewhere, the QB MC strews together gems of street wisdom over a crisp harp sample-driven beat by Pete Rock on "Live and Learn" and the soulful Large Professor-produced "Journey," which reworks a Barry White vocal sample to superb results. As usual, Cormega's lyrical output is consistently on point, but Born and Raised wouldn't be such a compelling listen if it weren't for the stellar supporting cast's contributions. Guest verses from the likes of fellow QB vets Tragedy Khadafi and Havoc do well to add variety to Mega's monotone verses, while the beats never fail to impress thanks to a handful of the East Coast's greatest producers. The album wraps up on a strong note as Cormega collaborates with a slew of old-school legends -- including DJ Red Alert, Big Daddy Kane, and KRS-One -- on the Buckwild-produced posse cut "Mega Fresh X." Rife with above-bar beatwork and guest appearances, Born and Raised is a tour de force of New York street-hop that stands among Cormega's finest work

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