With a fresh batch of new material, Cormega's "official" debut, The Realness, manifests under stealth-like conditions. Yet, it successfully conveys what his aborted Def Jam debut, The Testament, implied three years previously -- that Mega is one of the most promising thug poets to emerge in quite sometime. Though the usual live-guy repertoire and topic matter is recycled, Cormega paints with a broader lyrical brush then most hood aficionados, as his articulate verses far surpass the limitations of what the typical halfway crook is capable of expressing. Displaying a gripping range of vocal gifts, "The Saga" and "Fallen Soldiers" offer vivid street mathematics with Kool G. Rap-like narrative abilities. Likewise, Mega's ode to hip-hop, "American Beauty," is a continuation of Common's "I Used to Love Her," where his love for the art is evident: "Primo treated her good, made her the queen of my hood." Though the sonic landscape of The Realness is headlined by the Infamous Family members Havoc and Alchemist, it is a handful of upstarts (Jay Love, Big Ty, Sha Self) who carve out the LP's sound identity. This cast of rising and unknown names turns in a yeoman's job behind the boards, meshing a diverse assortment of ominous synth and keyboard arrangements around Mega's deep lyricism. While Mega has had to weather Def Jam's businessman ways, and his own inner demons (jail time) to get here, he may never taste redemption this sweet again.
AllMusic Review by Matt Conaway