If the history of Hip Hop has taught us one thing, its that for every great artist there is always a sub par group right behind them. Whether its Nas and the Bravehearts, Eminem and D-12, or 2pac and Tha Outlawz, even the great emcees fall victim to lackluster supporting casts. Unfortunately, you can add another emcee to that list, Cormega. With his third LP, "Legal Hustle", Cormega and his Queens Bridge associates fall victim to the curse that has plagued most crew albums.
While Cormega has remained one of the underground's most reputable emcees with his two spectacular albums "The True Meaning" & "The Realness", his "Legal Hustle" album fails to live up to the dominance of his previous releases. While Mega certainly holds his own, his fellow companions fail to live up to the expectations set upon them. Female emcee Dona ends up sharing the spotlight with Mega throughout the album, with her appearances on various efforts such as "The Bond", "Hoody", "The Machine" and "Respect Me". While Dona shows the most promise out of all the up and coming emcees on the album, her efforts do tend to become repetitive and bland after awhile. Drawing comparisons to Foxy Brown, only with a deeper voice, Dona's verses usually convey her ghetto struggles. This is pulled off nicely on "The Bond", a haunting collaboration with Mega, who carries the young emcee on his back. And even though Dona shows promise, her lyricism could definitely use some touching up. There are no standout verses from her on the entire album, as most of the time she is mired in mediocrity. This is seen through her solo effort "Respect Me, which drags on at an abysmal pace, and "Hoody" an unnecessary jacking for beats effort.
The rest of Mega's crew on the album fails to standout and its for a good reason. Jacka's block tales of "More Crime" fails due to uninspired lyrics and a dull hook. One can only wonder how Mega would have faired over the track's serene production, which gives you the feeling of relaxing on a perfect night while smoking a nice blunt. Similarly, a great production effort by Emile is wasted by the nonsensical ramblings of Kurupt and Jayo Felony on "Deep Blue Sea". Kurupt's verse is particularly embarrassing, with lines like "I don't fuck with y'all bitches, see I dip deep dishes. International militia, malicious, vicious".
Even though many fans will be disappointed by the efforts put out by Cormega's associates, they certainly will not be mad at Mega for his own work on "Legal Hustle". In his usual fashion, Mega rips every track he is featured on. From his breath control to his delivery and wordplay, its all flawless. You will not find a street emcee in the game today with a better ability to paint pictures so vividly.
"Beautiful Mind" finds Mega at his insightful best, rocking on the overused Isaac Hayes sample. While, "Let It Go" featuring M.O.P., "Sugar Ray Hearns" featuring Large Professor, and "Redemption" featuring AZ, are all solid collaborations that find Mega blending nicely with each guest. The reggae influenced "Dangerous" is another lyrical clinic from Mega, with lines like "Like City of God, adversity is Medusa's curse, I been hard when facing ad measurable odds".
While the long awaited collaboration between Mega and Ayatollah may never come to fruition, "Bring It Back" is a perfect example of what the two can accomplish. Just as "American Beauty" did on "The Realness", "Bring It Back" is dedicated to the Hip Hop culture. Ayatollah's sick vocal sample epitomizes Mega's message on the track, as he fiends for the good old days of Hip Hop. "I want it back, to when lyrics praised and listeners craved to hear Rakim against Kane. The rooftop, where dealers would hang. And bubble gooses, and sheep skins, and DJ's played your song because they loved the music". But "Legal Hustle's" finest moment is the Ghostface and Cormega collaboration of "Tony Montana". While Mega's verse is no slacker, its Ghostface who steals the show with his insane flow. "I play hard for nine innings, dressed in fine linen, cause pussy is the best next thing besides winning. All the positions I been in couldn't explain how I'm living. My vision, my intuition has risen, here take a listen".
While its unfair to compare "Legal Hustle" to Mega's previous releases, one cannot escape a sense of disappointment with the final product. Even though the album has its shining moments, they are unfortunately overshadowed by the lackluster guest appearances. Whether its Dona, Jacka or Miz, they all fail in comparison to Mega's greatness. Its unfortunate the album did not turn out as many expected it to, nevertheless, "Legal Hustle" will still hold fans over until Cormega's next solo LP.