July 07, 2022

Noreaga "N.O.R.E." (July 7, 1998)

No, this ain't no Pete Rock & CL Smooth type break-up. Noreaga has been forced by uncontrollable circumstances to release an album without the lyrical assistance of his partner Capone. Last year, the duo's critically-acclaimed debut, The War Report, was faithfully bumped in the underground, but was slept on like a Featherbed pillow by the mainstream. Still, after Capone's incarceration, Noreaga continued to hold down the fort. With a guest appearance on the Firm Album ("I'm Leaving") that couldn't go unnoticed, a solo project from Nore quickly became highly anticipated. With Capone's blessings, enter N.O.R.E. Representing Iraq (Lefrak), Queens to the fullest, Noreaga proves with the title track/first single that he can hang with the rest of the lyrical masterminds that have come outta the illustrious borough. What separates him from the rest? It's his signature characteristic, his language, his own form of Norebonics if you will. He even takes it to the next level on "Superthug," where his trademark "what, what" is repeated throughout the chorus. This unconventional cut will take about three listens to grow on you before you can appreciate how hot it is. Also blazing are the album's posse cuts: the anthemic "Banned From TV," which features Nature, Big Pun, Cam'ron, Styles and Jadakiss of The Lox; the rousing "The Assignment," on which Nore trades verses with newcomer Maze and Flipmode Squad's Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star; and the cinematic collaboration with Nas ("Body In The Trunk"). Ladies don't fret, Nore's got a couple songs for you too. He gets sincere on "The Way We Life" with Chico DeBarge; and on the introspective "I Love My Life," blessed by the crooning harmony of Bad Boy vocalist Carl Thomas, the charming thug validates his crossover appeal. Momentary slip-ups like the disappointing remake of Kool G Rap killer kut ("40 Island"), and the fraudulent party filler of "Fiesta," are easily overlooked as Nore rises to the top all by his damn self. Ya heard! - The Source. The album was well worthy of this 4-mic rating!

Original review in The Source magazine below...