When Queensbridge rapper Cormega interacts with his fans, he’s often surprised by their responses.
He regularly receives letters and tweets from fans, telling him that his words helped raise them, that his lyrics got them through a difficult time in their lives. At least eight people have had his lyrics tattooed on their body.
“I just thought that I was trying to make a dope song, or not sound ignorant,” he says. “Now I realize that the words that we say affect people in different ways.”
One famous fan equally affected by Cormega’s work was Large Professor, the rapper-producer who created landmark works with Nas, Main Source, Kool G. Rap and DJ Polo, Common and others.
When the two agreed to work on an album together, Large Professor felt the title should be “Mega Philosophy.”
Again, Cormega was surprised.
“I never really looked at myself as a deep person,” he says. “I looked at myself as a person that was spitting the reality that I see, or aspects of the street. After a while, when I was dropping what I would consider to be jewels, I was just giving my insight. I never thought that people were going to gravitate toward it like that.”
He added, “Large Professor is somebody I look up to, so for him to say, ‘Mega, you’re like a philosopher. It’s like you’re giving street knowledge,’ I had never looked at it like that.”
Now completing work on the “Mega Philosophy” album, which recently got a boost when the stellar posse song “M.A.R.S.,” with Saigon, Action Bronson and Roc Marciano, leaked, Cormega is making a point to focus on making music that matters.
“What Happened” takes a stark look at the music industry. Other selections team Mega with former foe Nature and feature him discussing betrayal and espousing the value of being determined in achieving your goals.
The latter is a particularly significant theme for Cormega, who was among the first New York rappers to go truly independent after having a major label deal. At the time, several of his contemporaries thought he was crazy, but Cormega was certain the path he was on was the right one and he remained resolute.
“If you’re not determined, then you’re halfway lost because when you’re trying to do something, you’re going to have naysayers, doubters, haters,” Cormega says.
“So, if you don’t have determination, you just added another energy to their movement. You have to push yourself in order to gain momentum. If you don’t have that push within yourself, then you’re making it harder for yourself to succeed.”
Now more than a decade into a robust independent career, Cormega has seen his work make a bigger impact than he imagined it had, from fans in the streets to music industry insiders. The feedback caused him to reexamine his own approach to making music.
“Now I look at it when I give you my input, it’s like ‘Mega Philosophy,’” Cormega says. “Now, when I’m writing, it’s like I’m leaving something that you can apply to your life, even if you don’t like me as a rapper. Even if you don’t listen to rap, you could hear one of my lines and be like, ‘That’s true.’”
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