Hip-Hop is at a cross roads and ignorance can no longer be shadowed as freedom of creative expression. With teenagers dying mercifully at the hands of each other and recent media attention only being drawn to the epidemic as the murders of 16-year-old Derrion Albert from Chicago and 13-year old Kevin Miller in Queens made national headlines, Hip-Hop has to stop talking about it and start being about their actions.
One MC taking responsibility is “Queensbridge’s Finest” Cormega. While many rappers glorify their time or “alleged” time in the streets, Cormega’s tone was always apologetic for the ills of his past which is one reason he’s been highly regarded as a lyricist’s lyricist.
As MC’s speak on the recent light being put on the murder of our young Black youth by each other, Mega took a moment to speak with Hip-Hop Wired about MC’s becoming more conscience and being more accountable for the words they put in their rhymes. Speaking on the power to shape minds of the next generation and putting the bulls&%t street antics to the back burner, Cormega stated,
“I came to the understanding, that whenever you have power, whether it’s a lot of power or a little bit of power, you have influence. And influence, especially in ghettos when there’s kids looking up to us, or young men and adults looking up to us, what we say is indoctrination. Some of the things we say, people apply that to their life. When I was growing up I heard Kool G Rap say, ‘I keep stepping with a nine in my waist line/ Got 16 shots now the weights mine.’
So when he was saying that s%#t I was doing that s&%t that he was saying in the song but I was looking up to him because I felt he was speaking my life. So you can say I was living that life and him speaking it made me respect what he said even more. I don’t want to be that dude that’s glorifying drugs and glorifying some of the things that I have done because there’s a lot of young dudes that look up to me. And I never knew that until I became internet savvy and I had dudes send me letters from jail or people wrote me actual emails saying, ‘Yo, your music saved my life.’ And I never knew that my music affected their life or helped them get through life. Songs like “Are You My Ni**a” helped them realize who their real friends are so my words have an affect on people because they look at me as a person who’s telling the truth so I don’t want to glorify the negativity.”
Gearing to release his third solo project Born & Raised on October 20th, Mega continues to speak the realness with cuts like “Make It Clear,” “Live & Learn” and “Journey.” Using his music to teach and inspire hope and delivering his story in the form of lessons learned, Mega added,
“I got shot before but that doesn’t give me street credibility at all, that makes me a victim. So I don’t want no young dude thinking that’s a rite of passage. Because when I was growing up the ni**as that came out of jail, we looked up to them. We was like he was in C-74, he went to jail…he’s a real ni**a. But at the end of the day he was in jail cause he got caught, we have to stop looking up to people for the wrong reasons.
We have to start looking up to people for the right reasons, like there’s people that come home from the armed forces. They risked their life to fight for our liberties and we don’t even look up to them and give them respect and those are the people that we should be looking up to. So when I made my music as I grew older I became apologetic but I’ve been apologetic. I know a dude that I shot and I regretted I shot him. It was for a reason, it was for the cause but it’s like damn. At the end of the day I could’ve killed that ni**a and it wasn’t over nothing.
And there’s times I look back when I was younger and we stood on the block. There was a time when I gave a crack head crack when she was pregnant but I stopped because I realized you might be affecting that child. Other people’s mentality was ‘F&*k it. If I don’t give it to her someone else is gonna give it to her’ but you can’t think like that. So when I made my music, I don’t just give you the cinematic view, like Menace II Society. That’s a movie but that shows you the ills but you can’t smell the asphalt, or you can’t smell the gun powder from that movie so I’m trying to give it to you as raw as I could and as true as I could so you don’t make the same mistakes I made. Yeah, I went to jail but that doesn’t make me a real ni**a. That makes me a ni**a that got caught for some bulls@%t and that makes me stripped for those years that I lost doing that bid.”
Living in the white man’s world, Cormega also addressed the blocks many dealers claim they own but in actuality that corner will belong to someone else if they become incarcerated and it’s still not the next dealer’s property either. Giving an even more in depth look at the harshness many in the hood face yet many rappers front like they lived that life, Cormega also declares that it’s time for MCs to take responsibility and stop reliving the past.
“I sold drugs but for what glory did I sell drugs. Cause, think about it. You sell drugs and you say this is my block and you got the whole block locked but whose block is it really? 10 years from now you’ll be in jail or if not you might still be making the same money you’ve been making but what happens? What do you gain from that? There’s been dudes that killed their man or flipped on their man over petty drug money so it’s like I give you the truth in my music so you can apply it to your life. Whether you do it in a positive or negative way but if it give you the truth and I tell you the downfalls of it, at last nobody can say I glorified the bulls&^t. Some people can actually learn from me.
If I could do my life different I would. If I could have my mother back…my mother got killed in front of me when I was 5. I hear rappers say they had a hard life and I just be looking at them like this ni**a’s a clown because I know they didn’t. I know they lived with their mothers and had parents there but they were just the fu%@ed up kid out the bunch. Their other brothers and sisters are doing good. I had a hard life, if I could’ve had an easy life, I would’ve chosen that path. I know there’s some kid somewhere that’s hustling at 16 like I was, or there’s a young kid sitting in the jail cell scared trying to figure out what’s his next move and thinking he can’t do nothing with his life.
So I’m trying to be that person…everybody knows I went to jail and been through s&#t, so I want to be that person where some young dude somewhere or some older dude somewhere can say, ‘Yo Mega went home from jail and he made it. I can do that.’ A rapper won’t tell you this cause they haven’t been to jail; some of them have but a lot of them are fronting. When you’re in jail you’re taught to believe that you’re nothing, that’s how the C.O.s look at you. I had a C.O. look at me with disgust and say “convict.” He called me a f&^king convict.
Basically they telling you you’re not s&*t and you can’t get a job when you come home and you don’t have any dreams. So for me, every step that I take further or height that I rise to higher is letting every person in jail know: Yo mega came straight from jail and he got a deal and he’s on. I’m trying to inspire people. Just like Bernard Hopkins, he came from jail and he’s a lightweight champion, and that’s what I try and do with my music and my life.”
Stay tuned to Hip-Hop Wired for our upcoming feature with Cormega.