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When it comes to manufacturing talent from an MC’s perspective, the borough of Queens, New York is most certainly atop the list.

For those who know their Hip-Hop history, names like CNN (Capone-n-Noreaga [Click for interview]), Mobb Deep, and Nas of course; all hail from the region. But one name that (sometimes) gets omitted from the discussion is that of Cory “Cormega” McKay.

Some may only know him as the one-time member of the now defunct Firm supergroup, which featured AZ, Foxy Brown, Nas, and himself (before his dismissal, in which fellow Queensbridge MC, Nature replaced him), but his story stretches a lot further than that.

With critically acclaimed albums to his credit such as The Realness and The Testament, he’s been able to sustain a career in an industry known for its short-term memory.

And as his newest project, Born And Raised gets ready to reach his fans, the man who comes from a scared lineage of wordsmiths takes some time out to reflect on himself, and his career up to this point.

iHipHop.com: Right now you have Born And Raised on deck. What can people expect to hear from it?

Cormega: The best album you ever heard from me…

iHipHop.com: So that’s where you would rank this album amongst your other classic work, like The Testament, and The Realness?

Cormega: Yeah, and if it’s not, you can sh*t on me in the next interview…

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… It’s a deal, but I doubt that will happen… Who did you work with this time around?

Cormega: As far artists go, I got Havoc on there, my man Lil Fame, [Click for M.O.P. interview] and I have a song on there called ‘Mega Fresh X’ with Red Alert, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Parish Smith, and Grand Puba on it… As far as production goes, I got Khrysis, Havoc, [Lil] Fame, Pete Rock, [DJ] Premier, Easy Mo Bee, Large Professor, L.E.S., DR Period, Nottz, and Ayatollah

iHipHop.com: With the exception of a few producers, it sounds like you want the album to still have that East Coast feel…

Cormega: When I think of music, I really don’t think of coasts’, but I definitely tried to go with that signature sound that made me embrace Hip-Hop… I try to work with people that I know represent that same thing I do…

And I know [DJ] Premier reps what I rep, I know Large Professor and Easy Mo Bee rep what I rep, and I know L.E.S. reps what I rep; you know what I’m saying? So I just wanted to go with a strong team man, and that was my goal for this album…

iHipHop.com : Anyone you wanted to get on the album but couldn’t get them for whatever reason?

Cormega: I wanted to get Biz Markie on the album, and I wanted him to do a beatbox for the ‘Mega Fresh X’ song, but it didn’t happen because of our schedules… And I wanted Billy Danze to be on the song with me and Lil Fame, but I’ll get [Billy] Danze for the remix…

cormega-cover_phixriHipHop.com: I might be wrong, but wasn’t Born And Raised supposed to come out a while back?

Cormega: Yeah… What happened was that my last album came out back in 2002, and my daughter was also born that November…

So for the first year in her life, I really wanted to be in the picture, because at the end of the day; that’s something I can’t get back…

Then I was going to come out with an album called Urban Legend in ’03, then The Source was promoting the title, and so was I, but then T.I. came out with the title, so I had to fall back, and I couldn’t use that title…

So in ’04 I came out with the Legal Hustle album, and in ’06 I came out with the album with me and Lake

iHipHop.com: So that’s why you didn’t put it out?

Cormega: Another reason why I didn’t put it out is because the politics of the game is not beneficial to the smaller artists… In other words, all the publications that wanted to do a feature with me, aren’t willing to do two features…

Lets say I do an album with you in January, me and “Serge,” and then they do a feature on us; at the end of the year, certain magazines will be like, “We just had him in here.”

So it was stuff like that which prevented me from not putting out the album, and I wanted to get the maximum promotion that I could get out of it…

iHipHop.com: I remember you putting out the Who Am I Soundtrack/DVD a few years back. Were you happy at the response it got?

Cormega: I was happy with it, but I wasn’t happy with it because a lot of people looked at it as a “Cormega album.” So those people are either Number One: A**holes, Number Two: Have no comprehension skills, or Three: They’re just looking for a flaw…

Because if you bought the DVD, it CLEARLY says on the cover, Cormega Presents The DVD & The Soundtrack.” So the DVD was just a bonus, and when you look at the soundtrack, you have 15 songs on there… Out of the 15 songs, there’s like eight songs that I’m not even on…

So I don’t like when people say, “I didn’t like the last album Mega put out,” and then they’ll say it was Who Am IWho Am I was a bonus soundtrack that had like 20 features on it… So it wasn’t a Cormega album, and that’s the only thing I wasn’t happy with… But other than that, I was happy…

cormega-01-2400x3000_phixriHipHop.com: So how do you feel about your career up to this point? Do you feel as if you get the respect that you deserve?

Cormega: You know what? You know who I feel like? I feel like Bernard Hopkins… Because the older he got, that’s when people started giving him his props…

Right now, I’m starting to get some of the accolades that I never got before, but I still feel like I do get overlooked…

But at the same time, I understand the business too… As I was coming up, I had differences with some powerful people, and I got blacklisted…

There’s a lot of people that didn’t want to f*ck with me at all, and then once a lot of the people and the media got to know me, they were like, “Yo, you’re really cool.”

I asked them what they meant by that, and they said people painted this picture of me being crazy…

So I do feel like I’m underrated, but at the end of the day, there’s a lot more things you can be than underrated… I would rather be underrated, than not rated at all…

iHipHop.com: Also, you’ve always been an artist that’s remained true to yourself, but do you think that trueness has hindered your career a little bit?

Cormega: It might have, but at the end of the day, me staying true gave me a longer career…

Look at the other people that were hot, and they were HOT! Mind you: My first album came out in 2001, and there’s a lot of people that had hit records back then that are nowhere to be found right now…

The first album I ever appeared on was back in ’96, and here we are talking in 2009…

I’m still appearing on songs, and people are saying Mega killed it,” so I’m doing something right…

So at the end of the day, you have to stay true to yourself…