This real world I only work to know. A real world where we are oppressed, our artists articulate artfully while our young ventilate vehemently. And this entire system of buy and sell is based on our usage. If Capitalism is the system, then class is the rank and race is the fuel. The ranks fluctuate but the fuel has always been mined consistently. So damned consistent that today’s attempts at making our Black and Brown a genetically modified organism of programmed submission leave proper American western society with its annoyances. Annoyances in Ferguson to Shaolin where the cops that farm us inside the correct ghetto lands to assimilate the acceptable crops of us are now uprooted as horrid herders. Yo, imagine fucking pigs that treat us supreme beings as animals. That’s the fucking animaled farm I’m from.
And Mega Philosophy is one of them records men born in the flesh of warriors-in-war edutain ourselves with. A template of ideas and insights that inspire appreciation in the toughness of principles found, kept and fulfilled. Where the worst we indulge in is finally realized as our own demise fed to us and however we loudly revolt we will have to appreciate being offended by the growth of an MC opening his mind sincerely. On Mega Philosophy, Cormega shares more than the brilliance of the rhyme’s techs but the specs of his mind’s times. A thirty minute build for those that listen and contemplate the rhyme. All merged together via the legend Large Professor exemplifying the art of Hip Hop lyrics production by offering a score that propels every track as musical manifestos.
Mega is a supreme survivor who has thrived amidst the hells. His first trials are when the streets only served to depreciate his rank of humanity. Yet that depreciation increased his resolve to build his principles through seeing all the tough lessons spelt out in prison. To then suffer the industry blackballing that ensued that this Writer understands well. All really a subtle neglect to embrace an overbearing talent that refuses to compromise and whose ideas of Art uncomfortably challenge and can soon wonderfully uplift. All of this is spilled throughout on verses (“Beef and money don’t mix, invest in peace/ I’ve paid dues in the street, respect is my receipt/Truth will set you free, except with police/Be aware when you sleep or you could rest in peace/I elevate poetically, I’m incredibly deep/Never ball ’til you fall, capisce? Stay on your feet…”) and choruses (“In life we’re faced with obstacles/ We want to achieve dreams that might seem impossible/The odds don’t lie, look at mine – acknowledge truth/The streets raised me to be wise and honorable”) as on “Honorable.” The frustration at these realities lived are also told on “Valuable Lessons” and as the best works from the late legend Guru, KRS or Ghostface, the principles and morals have a backstory. And this all results in some of the most motivating lines of illness on wax as on “Mars (Dream Team)” where he proclaims, “I went from living on the edge, to the realm of greatness/Who’s willed here to exist, this is continuation of skill revealed in music we originated/Then places full of napped hair melanated/Descendants of slaves who found ways to elevate it…”
Thematically, the matrix listener has to wrongly project preachy, 90s or any ageist dismissal because the truth of these verses are offensive in their truth to the listener. The underground listener today wants a thug who was real to the hell he invokes and can transmute that celebration on wax. That’s peace if that’s all a nigga know but Cormega understands more. “Industry” is a classic so well spoken that most don’t realize that there actually is no longer any investment on the young, poor Black and Brown MC that has the precociousness of skill and insight. That, we the listener or we the maker or we the contributor to this Hip Hop music and culture have the responsibility to see, as we once did, our each and every purchase supporting a level of skill and a depth of insight. This is a music, just as all our Black musical cultures in the Americas have revealed, that goes beyond the mere short value of like and dislike. It’s an Art that, with every illmatic piece drawn, is another proof that there is beauty born from within we poor and oppressed. So Cormega toughly denounces the way of the quick dime rhyme and the titles badly claimed as on “Reflection” going in with, “Fuck the crown, truthfully/all it did was ruin unity in the rap community/no rapper ruling me… Game seem vague when you lose your freedom, with life in the pursuit of the root of evil/Rudely greeted when seeds of resentment/ bloom into weeds of deception…”
Still, as an MC, Mega is from a Queens land where the GOAT leaders as Kool G Rap, NaS or Pharoahe Monch are legends whose technical prowess is exhibited flawlessly. Now for Cormega, his career is of a prospect of potential that, with each LP, has risen higher in achievement. If Mega Philosophy is in line with this ascension then it is his most enormous jump. “Rap Basquiat” is the immediate proof where Large Prof spins a high tempo with rolled, punched drums for emphasis. By the start of the second verse, perfection in continuity is reached brilliantly. Indeed, Mega does not chase and catch bars as effortlessly as G Rap but his flow, effortful and intensely enunciating, brings unique characterization to it all. And “Rap Basquait” may be the signature track describing his technical career as an MC as he ends, “Preparation is what separates me from those with self-doubt and reservation/Should know hesitation delays elevation/And shows why they never made it/Let me explain it/Dedication is a measure of strength and character…” While MCs as NaS classically excel in mid tempo, Mega dominates in the slow tempo as on “A New Day Begins” where his natural pausing and precise syllable structure lets his words linger. Brilliance in subtlety, with internal rhyming added, he slightly runs down and grasps the bar with “Conspiring the denial/ of hearing my aspiring/ rhyming/ is timeless and genuine…” and then pauses for emphasis with acknowledgement, “That’s where my mind is at— a reflective state.” Cormega won’t accept being called a legend but his skills, talents and this LP make him one of the greats. Hip Hop MCing, a written and spoken form, is benefited by aging and Cormega will only produce an even stronger craft we are witnessing here.
All of this Mega manifesto is sewn together by the egoless work of Large Professor. Large Pro’s best track given to Cormega prior to this LP was “The Come Up.” A track that epitomizes Pro’s perfect bass drums, the crunchy snare and the B-boy bleeps that glide the verses out. But on Mega Philosophy it isn’t about uploading deep doctrines on 11 bangers. Instead, Pro amazingly produces a work that puts him in the background where the highlight is the sonic quality, the clarity brought to the verses and the lyrics themes matched musically. There are the trusted Mega acapellas, one kept without music, (“Reflection”) while the other (“A New Day Begins”) is given pensive keys and brooding horn for a great opener. The soul vocals pushed out gorgeously as on “More” with a dungeoned bassline line ushering the vocals or the opening guitar stutter that leads Maya Azucena on “Rise.” The main escort for this short collection highlights Pro’s snare and drum work brilliantly. It makes “D.U.” a live intense track while “Honorable” becomes the ideal driving track guest Raekwon shines on with his own cleverness that illuminates (“The library of slangs, dutches up in Ukraine/ Political prisoner, check the chain…”). The isolated drop outs and the rolled drums on “Rap Basquiat” are highlighters on Mega’s best moments. Then there is “Mars (Dream Team)” with an added bridge of orchestral highs that equal the epic nature of AZ ‘ entrance (“Gray’s anatomy/amazed with duality/I inhaled to propel through polarity/Rap reality, trapper, actor or athlete/Choose carefully, use vernacular accurately…”).
Mega Philosophy is really the offensively righteous record we need. The one that forces the sheltered listener to actualize the insights from our pain they so crave to rock vicariously. It is an album that will be relevant as a plus lesson in ghetto living. Yet it gloriously has no relevance as the fake journalists I war against publish or the radio ebros that pontificate against Chuck D champion . Mega Philosophy just herds together so much we wanted to say, worked to say and can’t say. Said artistically, it is the true counter to the pseudo-culture they dig us down with. Hip Hop. Something to gaze upon as we look beyond the nothing we’ve been given to graze upon in these savage and coonish fields.