Guest Star: "The Second Cover The Guy Came Up W/ Was A F*cked Up Looking Crack Spot"

Friday, Sep 30, 2011 10:05PM

Written by SOHH for Cormega

[With the new release of his Raw Forever compilation album, rap veteran Cormega breaks down the story behind the project's cover art.]

The cover art is basically a throwback to some blues and jazz type of album from the 60's or 70's and then you see me doing the show with a band. It was just a concept that I developed from the guy that did it. I had nothing to do with that but when I seen it, I liked it. I liked the idea of it.

The original cover they wanted to do I was not happy with. The first cover had cocaine on it like, 'Cormega: Raw Forever.' And I'm like, "Come on, man." So the second cover the guy came up with was a f*cked up looking crack spot. Terrible looking. It was like some sh*t off of "Chappelle's Show," that 'Tyrone Biggums' crackhead character. I was like, "What the f*ck is that!?"

I had to tell the guy, "Look, man. You're putting a bad stigma on me and your perception of the streets." It's not just about crack. It's not just about guns. It's not just about drugs. Actually, some drug spots are very clean. So he didn't even know what it looked like.

So the perception of some people of hip-hop is what makes hip-hop f*cked up now. They view us as animals or just as ignorant people. That's why that [new] cover means a lot to me because it shows sophistication. It shows that I'm an artist.

Artists work with bands. Emcees and real artists work with bands. Rappers have 15 people on stage with them doing their ad-libs and you don't know who is rapping. So I wanted to do something different.

That cover is from a show that I did. I did a coat drive in the winter for homeless people and that's how the work got off. I did a coat drive and had a show at a store. The coat drive was a tremendous success. If you could put all of the coats on one another, I could probably climb up to the fourth floor. We generated thousands and thousands of dollars in coats.

So we had an afterparty that was separate from the coat drive. That actual cover picture is from the afterparty. We did the afterparty and I performed with that band. And the line for the afterparty was so long that I decided to give the money from the show toward the coatdrive. So on top of the coats they had for homeless people and people with HIV/AIDS, they got liquid cash.

An underground and critical favorite, Cormega was the rare hardcore rapper to win praise from all directions, and while he never quite crossed over like some of his New York City peers, he maintained a respectable independence over the years nonetheless, self-releasing his work on the Legal Hustle label. Born Cory McKay, Cormega grew up in the same Queensbridge housing projects that were home to a generation of rappers, most notably Nas, Mobb Deep, AZ, andTragedy Khadafi, and a previous generation that famously included Marley Marl and the Juice Crew.

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