Cory McKay, better known as Cormega, is an African American emcee noted for his vivid and poignant narratives about inner-city life.
Born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cormega grew up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Long Island City, Queens, forming childhood friendships with future rappers such as Nas, Mobb Deep, Nature and Capone-N-Noreaga. When he was 4, he witnessed his mother’s murder. After that, he moved in with his father and stepmother. Cory’s stepmother insisted that he read one book a week, which he credited with getting him interested in writing.
He was featured on Hot Day’s « Going Straight Up » from his album « It’s My Turn ». He was also featured on Blaq Poet & DJ Hot Day’s track « Set It Off » from their album « Without Warning » in 1991.
In the early 1990s, despite still being incarcerated, Cormega gained notoriety following a shout-out from Nas on his song « One Love », from his critically acclaimed Illmatic album. (Later on he would record a reply to Nas’ song under the same name on « The Testament » re-release.)
Following his release from prison in 1995, Cormega became determined to pursue rapping. Nas let him guest on a song entitled « Affirmative Action » for his second album It Was Written. The song also featured AZ and Foxy Brown, and became The Firm’s first appearance. Based on his performance, he was signed to Def Jam and recorded an album called The Testament. Based on the buzz from « Affirmative Action, » Nas, his manager Steve Stoute and producers Dr. Dre and Trackmasters joined to produce The Firm. Cormega was replaced with another artist, Nature, because either he would not sign a contract with Stoute or Stoute felt Nature was a better rapper. This led to an alleged altercation between Cormega and Nature. Cormega’s dispute with Stoute also ended his friendship with Nas. Meanwhile, following a falling-out over creative differences with his manager Chris Lighty and Def-Jam imprint Violator Records, his debut albumThe Testament, was indefinitely shelved.
In 2000, he was released from his contract and he started his own record company, Legal Hustle Records. Cormega vented his disappointment with Nas and The Firm in a mixtape song titled « Never Personal (Fuck Nas N Nature) ». In 2001, he released his new debut album, The Realness, which was acclaimed by critics. Many of the songs share a theme of betrayal. Nas responded to Cormega on his song « Destroy and Rebuild » from his album Stillmatic. Cormega retaliated with more mixtape tracks, « A Slick Response » and « Realmatic ». His followup album The True Meaning won the Source Magazine’s prestigious Underground album of the Year award. In 2004, He followed up with Legal Hustle (a compilation album showcasing his label’s artists) and other talented hip hop lyricists such as Ghostface Killah, Large Professor, AZ, Kurupt, Jay-O felony, and several others. This album is considered by some as more of a project than an actual solo album; nonetheless it was well received. In 2005, he was able to release The Testament on his own label, which saw good reviews and sales and featured the original banned version of Dead Man Walking as a hidden track.
In early September 2005, Cormega posted a statement on his website that he and Nas had spoken and ended their feud. Cormega explained that their conversation had come about due to the death of Cormega’s Grandmother. Both rappers have stated the possibility of a collaboration. On December 22nd 2006 at the Nokia Theatre Times Square, Cormega appeared on stage at a Nas concert and went on to perform with Nas (and Foxy Brown as well), further evidence that their feud is over. .
Also in the mid 2000’s Cormega went westward. Helped produce a few albums and featured on several songs with The Jacka and the Mob Figaz.
An album collaboration with Lakey The Kid entitled My Brother’s Keeper, was released independently on August 22, 2006. On November 20, 2007, Cormega finally released his DVD in-the-making Who Am I?. The DVD took over four years of filming of Cormega in all aspects of his life and what others thought of Cormega, unedited. The DVD was released as a soundtrack plus DVD. Currently, Cormega is working on an album which was to be entitled Urban Legend before T.I.’s album of the same name was released; the new title is; « Born and Raised« .