Who Am I
Sadly the d'evils of the industry drove a wedge between Cormega and Nas, causing him to be kicked out of The Firm and replaced with sound-alike Nature, his album shelved and a barrage of lyrical volleys to his former partners. Fortunately he has been able to withstand the pressures of rap, taking the independent route and releasing critically acclaimed albums, culminating with the long-delayed The Testament in 2005. after that two year absence, Cormega has returned with the multi-flavored Who Am I?
Rather than the typical East Coast-based, gritty boom-bap which has been the long-standing staple of Cormega's sound, he instead sought after a different twist on his stalwart sound, creating something definitely missing from New York hip-hop today. After longtime Dip Set in-house beat maestros The Heatmakerz bless guest singer Dwele's earnest wails and 'Mega's rhymes with the soul-driven opener Sleep Well, the head-knocking 718 is absolutely vicious, with the producer andMash Out Posse member Lil Fame promising to "come back to the game like Reverend Mason Betha... but without the hard-bottom shoes."
While loaded with guests an impressive number of guest artists, Cormega's graciousness with the mike tends to drag the album down more often than it should. While D-Block's Styles P shows up to body Use Mad Clips, Bay Area natives Yukmouth and Keek Da Sneak unexpectedly appear on the ho-hum Lookin' At It, and the unnecessary Live From The Caves could have easily remained in that cavern. Even the backpacker's wet dream The Rap Game - featuring underground favorites Little Brother - feels forced, as 'Mega's monotone delivery struggles to keep pace with Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh's dense lyrics. Fortunately, things get back on track with the pseudo-Firm reunion Who Am I with AZ and former nemesis Nature perfectly bookending Cormega's fiery verse.
Unfortunately, the production largely doesn't hold its end up of the bargain. There are too many dull points that don't measure up to Mega's talent (see: Time, Triboro). Although it has its moments, Who Am I? will only truly satisfy diehard fans of Cormega's legal hustle. For the rest though, they should only continue to wait for the next Montana diary.