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N.O.R.E. Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

With his colleague Capone, Noreaga released an exciting debut album, The War Report, in 1997. Shortly after its release, Capone was sent to jail, leaving Noreaga to fend for himself on the follow-up. N.O.R.E. doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by The War Report, mainly because Capone is absent, but it often hits head-spinning high notes. Noreaga lined up an impressive team of guest rappers -- Nas, Mase, Kool G Rap, Cam'ron, Big Punisher, and Busta Rhymes, among others, are all present, and most contribute some great, hard-hitting raps. Still, the whole thing adds up to the less than the sum of its parts. Maybe the thrilling interplay and fresh beats on The War Report raised hopes too high, but N.O.R.E. doesn't transcend expectations like you may anticipate. Instead, it simply delivers the goods. That does make for some great listening, but it's hard not to think that Noreaga is capable of greatness, not just merely good work.

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