Soul Survivor was Pete Rock’s first solo effort, released via Loud Records. Before the album dropped, a rare sampler entitled It’s Me made it’s rounds early in 1998. The sampler featured tracks produced by Pete Rock (and strangely a track by DJ Krush featuring Tragedy Khadafi?). The first track is an unreleased version of “Strange Fruit“.
The album version featured Tragedy, Wu-Tang affiliate Cappadonna and Onyx’s Sticky Fingaz. The unreleased version is much longer and has a different line-up. The Tragedy verse and hook remain intact; however, Pete Rock actually spits a weak verse on this one. He’s followed by Tragedy’s cohort N.O.R.E. and finally Meccalicious. Meccalicious hailed from Pete Rock’s neighborhood, Mount Vernon, and even earned himself an “unsigned hype” in The Source. He did a few more songs with Pete Rock, but his career never really took off. In addition to the line up, the intro is also slightly different. The album version has the Billy Holiday sample reversed. The demo version doesn’t.
I admit I don’t own It’s Me. Instead, I found this track on a white label bootleg simply labeled RA-009. The b-side is the DJ Krush song with Tragedy.
Before rappers were reading freestyles off of Blackberries, they were actually spittin’ verses off the top of the dome. Okay, so NORE’s verses from this track are actually from his album but at least he memorized them!
Check this vintage 1997 freestyle from QB’s finest – Nas and N.O.R.E. (before he was PAPI or whatever he calls himself now). The freestyle is from New York’s Hot97 with Funkmaster Flex behind the wheels. Both Queensbridge MC’s trade verses of a very slowed down version of “Dance to the Drummer’s Beat“. Enjoy!
And a Thugged Out New Year! Queens rappers Capone-N-Noreaga were riding the success of their classic album The War Report by 1997. With Capone in jail and N.O.R.E. well on the road to becoming a solo artist, Penalty Recordings decided to preemptively push him into the spot light. During the holiday season, Penalty released a double 12-inch promo entitled “Have a Very N.O.R.E. Christmas and a Thugged Out New Year“. The 12-inches were pressed on red and green vinyl in true “holiday” fashion. While the concept is extremely strange, the promos contained 3 previously unreleased cuts by N.O.R.E.
The first track is a “Freestyle” featuring fellow Thugged Out Entertainment artists Maze & Musolini. The freestyle features the 3 trading verses of popular Dr. Dre beats (including some by The Firm).
The second track is a cult favorite, “Married to Marijuana“. The song features N.O.R.E. professing his love for weed over a smooth Al Green sample, reminiscent of the production on War Report.
The third is a slightly different style for Noreaga – “Noreminati“. Most will recognize the beat from Tragedy Khadafi‘s “Alluminati“.
Below is the full track list, with links to the unreleased tracks. Peep out and enjoy your N.O.R.E. Christmas lol.
Jacques Brel was considered the master of modern chanson. What does that mean? I didn’t know either so I looked it up on wikipedia. Listening to Brel you’ll immediately notice his music is over-the-top dramatic and sounds pretty ridiculous. Somehow he amassed a pretty large following in France and later worldwide. He died in the late 70′s from complications related to smoking (quit now!) Some how producer Self found the LP and flipped “Vieillir” for Onyx‘s comeback track “Shut Em Down” featuring DMX. Most people don’t recognize Self but his production credit list is pretty extensive including tracks for DMX, Ja-Rule, Cocoa Brovaz, Cam’Ron, and Fat Joe.
In 1998, Onyx returned from a hiatus with their double A-side single “Shut Em Down” / “Raze it Up“. To promote the single, Def Jam released a promo-only double LP “Best of Onyx” which featured the single and an extra 12-inch with some of their classic cuts and the unreleased “Evil Streets Remix” with Method Man. Their album met with decent reviews and also featured a young 50 Cent (thanks to Jam Master Jay). Since “Shut Em Down” was already old when the album dropped, they added a remix featuring N.O.R.E. and Big Pun. Check out the original sample to see how Self flipped it.
Before rapper N.O.R.E. was doing Reggaeton, putting on the Neptunes, or yelling “what what” he was the humble half of Queensbridge duo Capone-N-Noreaga. C.N.N. burst on the New York hip-hop scene in 1997 with their classic debut “The War Report” featuring hit singles like “T.O.N.Y.” and “Closer“. Prior to the album, they gained notoriety for appearing on the west coast dis track “L.A., L.A.” featuring Mobb Deep and Tragedy Khadafi, plus a beat by legend Marley Marl.
The original single for “L.A., L.A.” was released on 25 to Life Records with distribution help from famous DJ Stretch Armstrong – an early supporter of the group. To help promote C.N.N., Stretch featured a freestyle by a then 20 year old (1996) Noreaga on his joint mix tape with DJ EV entitled Back to Back Volume 1. I never heard it anywhere else, so I assume it’s moderately rare. Check it out.
Jeanette is a Spanish singer who has been releasing albums since the 1960′s. She was pretty hot (at least 30 years ago) and is a mut of sorts, having half-white Congolese (whatever that means) and Spanish ancestry. Hip-Hop producer SPK used her track “Frente a Frente” for N.O.R.E.‘s cut “Gangstas Watch“.
Noreaga was enjoying the success of classic C.N.N. album “War Report” and his own solo effort with hits like “Super Thug” when he decided to drop his second solo album. Basically, the album was a mess of half-ass tracks and poor attempts at commercial hits (Missy Elliot and Swizz Beats!?). He would later admit that Tommy Boy records pressured him into recording the album, even though his father had recently died and he didn’t feel inspired. Despite the album being mediocre, “Gangstas Watch” is one of the better tracks. Check out the sample.