Capone-N-Noreaga: The Raw Report
In the decade plus since, CNN has gone through a couple different label changes, and a couple separate Capone incarcerations (which directly contributed to Nores solo star shining brighter than his partner Pones), but the two friends of over 15 years (having met while locked up in a juvenile detention facility) are Still Reporting, and next month will be unveiling their latest hood reports via Channel 10, Pone and Nores debut for indie powerhouse SMC Recordings, and the first CNN full-length since 2000s The Reunion.
Fresh from a workout, one-half of the Queens connection told HipHopDX about the at-times stormy relationship he and his partner-in-rhyme have endured, and how the brothers from another mother reunited with not just one another, but with some of the grimiest producers in Hip Hop to get back on that Q.U. shit. He also offered never before provided insight into Jay-Z the businessman, and most importantly how your hate motivated him to get back in shape, a move that likely saved him from a premature death.
HipHopDX: First and foremost, where the hell is Capone [Laughs]? We cant find him [Laughs]!
Noreaga: Aww man, your guess is as good as mine.
DX: He aint working out with you [Laughs]?
Noreaga: Nah, he aint working out [Laughs].
DX: Okay, just to clarify, he aint in the joint right now is he?
Noreaga: Nah, he home. He just act like he in the joint [Laughs].
DX: Oh, okay [Laughs]. Well, I guess that segued to my next question. Let me just say Im honestly not trying to create no static, so dont step in the mud yourself in answering this question, but I was reading that you and Pone have had some issues that almost caused yall to part permanently?
Noreaga: Of course, man. I mean, we brothers. At the end of the day its like, you argue with your brother, you argue with your best friend, you argue with your girl, you argue with your cousins. I think a relationship without an argument is pretty much fake.
DX: It aint no love.
Noreaga: Yeah, it aint no love. Cause if a person just around you, just smiling, that means theyre not really being themself. So definitely, we have problems. Anybody who would say thats untrue is somebody whos just trying to be out there to lie. And thats not my style. Id rather keep it real with the people, and tell the people the truth. Yeah, we have problems. But obviously its never came to diss records, never got to anything very, very serious. We dealt with it like men, like the way men do.
DX: Thats good to hear. And its definitely good to hear Capone and Noreaga are back together for this third go-round, Channel 10. I gotta be honest though, after hearing the single yall got with Shawty Lo, that Money joint, Im a little worried this re-reunion is going in a direction that may be hard for longtime fans to get with. We still gettin some grimey, T.O.N.Y., Bang Bang, New York gangsta shit?
Noreaga: Absolutely. To tell you the truth, Money wasnt a CNN record. It was a Nore record, and Capone heard it and he wanted to get on it. So we started all over, and we re-recorded it. But originally it was a Nore record. Its more of a Nore type of thing. But, we definitely like Shawty Lo, so we wanted to show love.
DX: What about the rest of the album, is it?
Noreaga: [Interrupts] Yeah, I was lightin a blunt and gettin right to that [Laughs]. But the rest of the albumWhen we first started recording we was trying this new-age stuff, like the Money [joint]. We was trying a whole bunch of things that sort of lean towards a Nore record more than a CNN record. And we sat down and I said, and Capone agreed, that if we do a CNN/Nore album then theres no need for Nore to exist. Like, I gotta have my own identity. You have to have your own identity. And CNN is a separate identity from both of that. So we scrapped all those records and went back and started all over. And we went and got the most grimiest producers. We went and seen [DJ Premier]. We went and seen Alchemist [click to read]. We went and seen Havoc. So you gonna get that dark, grimey, gutta Hip Hop.
DX: Primo, is it Invincible part two? Is it that caliber?
Noreaga: Its like Invincible. In fact, thats what I titled it at first, Invincible Pt. 2. But Primo changed the name [Laughs]. He said, Yo, I dont wanna call it Invincible Pt. 2. He changed it to Grand Royal. So definitely man, it was an honor to get back in there with Primo. It was an honor to get back with Alchemist [for Follow The Dollar [click to listen]. It was an honor to get back with Havoc. And we got some great joints on there.
DX: Yall enlist Lord Finesse to make like a sequel to the original Channel 10 song for this Channel 10 album? I love that joint! That shit was like simultaneously smooth and hard.
Noreaga: Yeah, that woulda been dope. We aint get a chance to get at him. But that woulda been dope, man. Wow. Maybe we can come in and get him on a remix. Thats a dope idea.
DX: Now, I just heard the Rotate joint [click to listen]. I presume thats kinda like one of the joints you were talking about that was maybe supposed to be more Nore than CNN?
Noreaga: Yeah, absolutely. Busta Rhymes [click to read], a great friend of mine, he called me one day and was like, Yo muthafucka, you quiet. This before I started my Internet slaughter I got a lot of promotion and a lot of things happening on the Internet. But he called me, and he was really getting in my ass like, Yo, you quiet out there. I dont hear no music. I dont see you on the Internet. I dont see nothing. And I was planning this whole thing. So he was like, Yo man, you need to go get with Ron Browz. And the whole time I had a beat from Ron Browz, but I just figured let me not cut [Busta] off.
I went in [and] recorded it. Busta Rhymes was originally on the hook. We went in, and Ron Browz didnt like Bustas chorus. So Ron Browz went and he did his chorus. And then Bus, he didnt even ask me, he just went and said, Im sending my 16. [Laughs] Which is dope, cause if you listen to Banned From T.V. [click to read] mostly none of those artists asked to be on the record. They just came to the studio and just jumped on it, especially [Big] Pun. Im still waiting for Pun to say, Can I get on Banned From T.V.? But he just jumped in, which is sometimes how phenomenal records happen, just the artists is there at the studio and they just go in the booth. And what you gonna say to these niggas, Get out?
DX: [Laughs] Not to Big Pun.
Noreaga: Nah, not to Pun, and not to BustaSo, what we doing is, to keep it all love, we putting Capone on a verse to that. And we gonna shoot the video to that.
DX: Thats gonna be like the official first single?
Noreaga: Yeah, definitely. Then we coming with Talk To Me, Bigtime, which is officially a CNN record. And thatll be the second single, definitely.
DX: Is that like one of the grimey joints?
Noreaga: Oh yeah, too grimey [Laughs]. I dont think were gonna get three spins on the radio [Laughs].
DX: [Laughs] Okay, well lets use Rotate to segue into talk about your solo career. Are we getting another solo Nore album soon?
Noreaga: Aww man, I aint gonna lie to you, my solo album was done before we even started the CNN album. But, I felt from the fans perspective, I felt from a Hip Hop perspective, I felt from a music perspective, that CNN was more important for right now with all this lollipop rap going on. So I was so glad that I had a group to lean on that represent that real, pure hardcore Hip Hop. So I held a lot of my records, and I gave a lot of my solo records, to CNN. And I just turned around and started some new [solo] material. I started all over. I went and got a record with T-Pain [click to read]. I got a record with Pharrell [click to read] for my solo. I got a record with Will.I.Am [click to read]. My first time working with Will.I.Am. So I made a real global albumMy original [planned] album [title] was Global Warming. But then [DJ] Khaled [click to read] came out with We Global, and Im way too creative to have any album title that sound like anybody elses title in the world. So I [had] to change that immediately, and I changed it to S.O.R.E., which is [an acronym for] Superthug On the Run Eating, Still On the Run Eating, whatever you wanna say [its short for]. So its the sequel to N.O.R.E. Which is my favorite album that Ive ever [recorded].
DX: I read that another Reggaeton album is not really in your future, that youre done with that?
Noreaga: Yeah, Im done with that [Laughs]. This is a question that Im never gonna avoid. And Im never gonna be stopped asking this question neither. Its [just] something that I did. At the end of the day, what Kanye West is doing right now with 808s & Heartbreak [click to read] is the same exact thing I did with the Reggaeton, the same exact thing! I wanted to think outside the of the box. The part that I messed up at is I shoulda just stayed English. I shoulda did the Spanish music but kept it all [in] English and it woulda been [received] the same way Kanyes doing it. Kanye, that shit is not Hip Hop, but it is Hip Hop. And Reggaeton, that shit is not Hip Hop, but it is Hip Hop.
DX: Now this is the part of the interview where you talk shit about Jay-Z and blame him for only being able to get that reggaeton album out [on you] during his tenure as President of Def Jam. So, go ahead [Laughs].
Noreaga: Nah, I wouldnt take that approach. I wouldnt take that route. I wasnt mad at Jay [click to read] for the Reggaeton thing, cause honestly that was a I dont wanna call it a mistake move that I made on my own. He co-signed it. The biggest part I was mad at Jay was for me to come to him and tell himI had a whole album that was done called N.O.R.E. y la Familia, and the man looked at me in my face and he said, Yo, you know I wanted to start my label called Roc La Familia, and I wanted you to be president. And for me, I looked at it the same way he looked at it. He looked at it when he was President [of Def Jam and] he said he was gonna take 20 million and spend it on himself. I just really wanted to be able to do the same thing, take one million or two million and spend it on myself. Because Reggaeton is not known for spending money on their artists. That was something that I realized. I realized if we was to spend some type of money towards marketing this project, we might come out crazy victorious.
I think Jay is a great businessman. And I think hes a phenomenal businessman for himself. I just couldnt get none of his phenomenal business expertise to match what I was doing at the time. Its not to say hes a bad business guy, cause obviously hes not. I would look like a fool saying that. But [by] the same token, I think our endeavors just didnt work. Like, maybe in the future we can come and put something together. Or maybe we cant.
And I was mad cool with this guy prior to that. Thats what hurts so much. If I tell you, Yo, next time I see you Ima get you a pair of sneakers, you gonna be expecting that pair of sneakers. And for me, it was like a smack in the face for him to announce his boy, OG Juan as the President [of Roc La Familia]. I have no beef with OG Juan. I have no beef with Jay-Z neither. But, it was just like crazy to me, cause its like, Damn, is this guy getting high? Like, he just told me last week hes gonna make me the president. So I sat back and I said, Make me vice president, or make me general manager or something. And that never happened.
But this is the real insult, I sat down and I spoke with OG Juan. I was like, Yo, I need a flight to Puerto Rico because Im going to get Don Omar and Daddy Yankee [click to read] to do they parts [for a song]. And he was like, Fuck Don Omar. Fuck Daddy Yankee. These are corny people. Now, even if he did feel like that, why are you the president of a Spanish label? It just doesnt make sense!
Im a Internet dude. I be bored [and] I be on the Internet reading comments. And I recently did an [AllHipHop.com] interview where I named my top five emcees, and a comment was left that said, Oh Nores mad at Jay-Z because his album at Roc La Familia didnt work. And I just gotta say something for the people, first off, youre absolutely right, it didnt work. And secondly, I would just like that person to name any project on Roc La Familia that worked. Because if he can, Ill buy him a car.
When you a businessman you have 15 endeavors, 15 different jobs to do when you a great businessman as Jay is. And I just was caught in one of the joints that he just did not know. Like, he just did not know what to do. And thats the point that really hurt me is that he told me, Yo Nore, I dont know what to do with this music. So its like, I was passionate about it. You cant hire your friend [just] because hes your friend. You should hire somebody whos passionate about itBut he didnt do that. I have no hard feelings [towards] him. If I see Jay Ima say whassup. I dont know if Ill extend my hand, because I dont know if hell take it. But I would definitely say whassup. I would definitely nod my head. I dont have no problems with him. I have no problems with OG Juan. I was just caught in the time, and the part of their business where it just didnt work.
DX: I appreciate you explaining all that. Lets switch gears here though to why youve been on the run with less eating of late. What motivated you to drop the extra poundage [click to watch]?
Noreaga: First off, I wanna let the people know I lost 62 pounds. Im still going. I got another 10, 15 more pounds [to drop]. What happened was, Im a person that I start a lot of things, and a lot of times I dont finish. But out of a 100 times, Ill say 93 [times] Ill finish. So I was starting this workout shit, stopping, starting, and if youre a big guy if you start and you lose 10 pounds, then you stop, you gain 20. Then you start again and you lose 20 pounds, and then you stop, you gain another 40. So the whole time when people were seeing me big it was because I was working out two weeks and then Id take off two or three weeks. [So] though I was able to [workout], I was gaining, gaining. So what happened was, for the CNN photoshoot I took some pictures
DX: The shirtless, rooftop pic?
Noreaga: Absolutely. I just wanna clear this up for people, a lot of people think these pictures mysteriously hit the Internet but thats not what happened. I took these pictures on purpose!
Bloggers are good for one thing. If you wanna motivate yourself, read some of these comments [Laughs]. Cause I was called everything: fat guacamole Mexican. [But] Ill let you know how powerful a computer is, a computer only means something if you turn it on. But if you dont turn it on, that computer means nothing. So thats for all the bloggers who [post] negative comments. Yall only powerful to the people who read these dumb-ass comments. But if you really stay away from these comments, then theres nothing to be mad about.
But this was not a time to stay away from the bloggers. This was a time to have the negative bloggersI needed their motivation to do this. When I took the shirt off I just kept reading those comments. And I woke up everyday and I kept running outside. I woke up everyday and read more comments, and then I went and I ran more outside.
DX: You used hate to lose weight.
Noreaga: Oh, thats a great saying. And Ima go on record and say Im going to take that [Laughs]. Honestly, thats exactly what it was. I needed some type of motivationI love to have my back against the wallI wouldnt have been able to reinvent myself had everybody been thinking Im gonna win. I need people to say, Nores outta here! This is it for Nore. This is it, he cannot produce another hit. Its over. Him and Pharrell cannot get back together. Him and Ron Browz cannot [make] another [hit]. I need people to say this. It brings out the best in me.