CORMEGA as part of the NXNE Xtra Series, at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne, 416-323-1251), Friday (June 13), 11 pm. $30, free for first 100 NXNE wristbands, VIP or Priority Passes (see page 62). Rating: NNNNN
Long before Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson began terrorizing the suburbs of America with his super-thug-life hyper-capitalism, Cory “Cormega” McKay was terrorizing the streets of New York City and beyond with his truthful tough-life realism. Immortalized on Nasty Nas’s One Love (“What up with Cormega? Did you see him? Are y’all together?”), Mega is unquestionably one of the most authentic ghetto griots in hip-hop’s 35-year history.
An OG in one of America’s most notorious housing projects, he’s been affiliated with the cream of the hip-hop crop: Dr. Dre, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nas with The Firm (which sadly saw Mega replaced by Nature before the album dropped), Def Jam (which shelved his much-anticipated debut, released on his own label years later) and Violator Management (where a falling out with major manager Chris Lighty ended his major-label efforts). He then brushed off his shoulders and started releasing independently funded LPs on his Legal Hustle Records.
Beginning in 2001 with the critically acclaimed gritty street reporter document The Realness, he followed up with The True Meaning, Legal Hustle, and his long-awaited original major-label debut, The Testament. Now working on new album The Inevitable, Cormega’s appearing in Toronto for the first time. It’s a rare opportunity to see one of the most underrated hardcore MCs in hip-hop remind everyone what a real master of ceremonies sounds like.