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Cormega And Large Professor Want To Champion The Essence Of Hip-Hop

XXL: You both grew up in Queens, but actually didn’t work together until the early 2000s. How long have you two known each other?
Cormega: Very long. I knew people that was very close to him in proximity for forever.

Large Professor: Yeah, I met him a long time ago. Nas was telling me, “Yo, this is my man and he’s nice with it.” And I was just like, “Aight, cool. We gonna work one day.” And then, you know, he went through some difficulties in life where he got locked up and everything. But once he touched back down, I seen him again and it was just like, “Yo, come on, let’s go.”

Who approached who about doing a full record together?
C: [We first worked together]g on The True Meaning, and it was an honor. And then we did something for Legal Hustle, the compilation I made, but he didn’t produce he just rapped on it, and that was fun. And then we did “Journey,” and that’s the one that opened the fucking door to doing a whole album, because the feedback we got on that was phenomenal.

LP: Just out of nowhere he was like, “Yo, you know what? Let’s just start the album.” It’s cool [to produce an entire record] because it’s like a brotherhood almost. It’s just like putting out to the world like, “Yo these guys really rock like that.” It’s not just a one off where some dudes have questionable chemistry. It’s like, “Yo these dudes really rock. They go on the road together and really do this.”

Mega, you said you wanted this album to completely come out of left-field and be unexpected. What was the creative process like behind it for you two?
C: We all get predictable sometimes, and I wanted to show real artistry and take creative risk and just do different shit with this album. I think I did it with the song “More;” I think I did it with “Industry.” “Rise” is a song I also think people wouldn’t expect from me, so there’s definitely some songs on it they wouldn’t expect.

LP: The approach on this was different because Mega actually had a lot to do with the production. I was kind of giving him basic ideas; that’s how I start anyway. I start to format it a certain way and then as we start to build it I add on to it. The process was definitely outside of anything I’ve ever done before. I’m pretty much always [in control]. Mega got a few of the sounds, like on the “Industry” song with the Lauryn Hill ad-lib. Mega put a lot into that kind of stuff.

C: It’s a challenge [to work with one producer for a whole album]. But, it’s Large Professor; he’s one of the greatest producers that’s ever existed. It’s not debatable. So when you get an opportunity with someone like that, you do it. He was gonna make me do things different than how I would normally do it. But I was welcome to the challenge, and I’m glad I did it.

Why should people pay attention to this record? In your eyes, why is it significant?
C: The culture needs it now more than ever because you got a lot of clowning going on, and you got a lot of grown men perpetuating childish behavior and it’s too much ignorance going on. I just wanted to be real serious with my approach on this album. The culture needs championing. People are trying to phase out lyricism and the real shit, and I just wanted to stand up.

LP: The foundation of [the culture] is being a little overshadowed right now by what’s popular, which is cool, but I always equate it to how when you go to Italy, pizza is revered. It’s like certain things are staples in certain cultures. You go to New Orleans and you hear the music there—you don’t let go of that. That’s what you go to New Orleans for. With New York hip-hop being overshadowed, it’s just like this is crazy. When you listen to the radio, the majority of everything is different. We’re just putting that out to the people to let them know that everybody is not swaying. Everyone is not trying to do trap music; we’re sticking to the roots of what we do.

C: I got some remixes coming. We got one with the juice crew—me Craig G, Masta Ace and Kool G Rap. And then I got one with me, Lord Jamar, Sadat X, Roc Marciano and Inspectah Deck. Two remixes to “Industry.”

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