After releasing Queensbridge classics such as "LA, LA", "Illegal Life", Stick You", "T.O.N.Y." and "Closer" with partner in crime Capone, Noreaga has taken a different path with his music. N.O.R.E. has become someone that just wants to have fun and have a good time with his music. Noreaga will never be in a best lyricist Top 20 or he will never be known for his great lyrics, but he always finds a way to get your attention. That is Victor Santiago's niche in the rap game. He can always get your attention. On his debut solo CD, once "Superthug" was released to radio, you couldn't tell Noreaga anything because he had one of the hottest songs on the street and on radio. If it wasn't for this hit song, the Neptunes might not even be around today and that is the truth. Other memorable moments from his debut CD include "Banned From TV" w/Big Pun, Cam'ron, Nature & The LOX, "The Assignment" w/Busta Rhymes, Spliff Star & Maze, the first single, "N.O.R.E.", "Body In The Trunk" w/Nas, and "I Love My Life" w/Carl Thomas. On his second CD, "Melvyn Flynt- Da Hustler", it seemed Noreaga was uninspired and that his label was trying to capitalize on the success of "Superthug" to soon. Although, the first single, "Oh No" was prodcued by The Neptunes and was a success, the rest of the CD was very lackluster. Other than "Sometimes", which was a tribute to his late father, the CD was filled with filler material. Once his partner Capone returned home after being incarcerated they recorded their last CD for Tommy Boy records entitled "The Reunion". This reminded me of the Noreaga that I expected from his "War Report" days. Songs like "Bang Bang" w/Foxy Brown, "Phonetime", "Invincible" where he even admits that "Melvyn Flynt" was wack, "B EZ" w/Nas, and "Y'all Don't Wanna" were songs worth hearing from the Queens duo. Now signed to Def Jam Records, Noreaga is here for a fresh start. The switching of labels has done Noreaga some good and the results are pretty good. First of all, some of the material is outdated, the CD's official 1st single, "Grimey" was actually released on the "Violator 2" CD. The Neptunes drop a nasty beat and the words flow from Noreaga's voice like he has been working with The Neptunes since birth. Although many fans may be tired of hearing Noreaga over The Neptunes' beats, that's when he is at his best. The 2nd single from "God's Favorite", "Nothin'" is another Neptunes track and is definitely all over radio and the club scene at this time. He won't win any points for originality, but this formula seems to work. "Live My Life" w/Ja Rule was supposed to be the 2nd single but after receiving a lukewarm reception from radio stations, Def Jam decided to go back to the drawing board, which was smart. "Nothin'" will definitely get Noreaga the gold plaque that he is accustomed to getting. Other noteworthy tracks include, "Full Mode", which will definitely be the next single after "Nothin" wears out its welcome, "Head Bussa", the remix of the Swizz Beats track, "Nahmeanuheard" w/Cam'ron, Fat Joe, Cassidy & Capone, "Black Clouds" and "Mr. CEO". I agree with reviewer anthony humphrey on his opinions about the song "Big D". This song was just a bad idea and probably just a way to get Akinyele on the CD. We don't need to hear Noreaga spit Spice channel type rhymes. Other filler tracks include "Wanna Be Like Him" w/Mashonda and "Banned From Another Club". "Consider This" w/Kelis has a catchy beat but the song is ruined when Noreaga starts talking about his "merry mack, all dressed in black". I mean, how unoriginal is that. "Love Ya Moms" was a good idea and is a good track, altogether. Overall, Noreaga has definitely showed improvement since his last solo offering. After a Def Jam Capone N Noreaga CD, Noreaga might have somethiing for us the fourth time around. He needs to improve on his subject matter but as long as he has good producers around him, he will always make some kind of impact on the rap game. Also, check out Track 19, "The Life Of A... (Gangsta)", the bonus track with Capone & Chinky. It is worth listening to. I actually rate this CD 3 and a half stars, but if you're not a fan of Noreaga then of course your rating will be lower than mine.
James' Top 5
3. Full Mode
4. Live My Life w/ Ja Rule
5. Nahmeanuheard (Remix) w/Capone, Cam'ron, Fat Joe & Cassidy