Call dude whatever name you choose, but the man born Victor Santiago has put his time in. As one half of the Queens duo Capone-N-Noreaga, N.O.R.E. had to hold the weight for the group early—Capone would catch a case and Noreaga’s solo career took off. His debut N.O.R.E. would spawn a couple of classics like “Body In The Trunk,” “Banned From TV” and The Neptunes produced monster “Super Thug.” After getting back with Pone and dropping two more solo projects he tripped up with a Reggaeton compilation leaving his fans feeling in a way. Jose Luis Gotcha’s shot at reclaiming his spot are a little more favorable with his return to the streets with Noreality (Babygrande).
From the Jump N.O. goes in hard. The appropriately titled “Set It Off” features an amped up Swizz and an accompanying beat to fuel the energy. Those vibes are extended on “That Club Sh*t.” DJ Paul and Juicy J of Three 6 fame jump on the hook and inject some Crunk into the cipher. The album brings it back to a grittier state of mind with “Throw Em’ Under The Bus” featuring Jadakiss and Kurupt. The three MC’s deliver their signature flows over the wild synthesized track making this joint one of the album’s standout tracks.
N.O.R.E. gets clever with his cover of the classic documentary Cocaine Cowboys. Hazirdis Sounds lifts the theme music and adds some soft drums in order to keep the trademark sounds from the movie prominent. N.O. does a great a job of breaking down the entire script of the flick from the all the characters to the turning point of the violence with the slayings at Dadeland Mall. His dark lyrics paint the exact picture of how gully it was back then in Miami: “Got them things in delivered in monthly/From Ochoa and dudes from Medellin/They had more bread and more blow then I ever seen.”
With any of N.O.R.E.’s projects, you are going to get some songs that just don’t work. “Eat P***y” is a perfect example. N.O., Peedi Peedi and True Life dedicate their love for going down but they rhyme so crudely that ladies and low lives alike will be prone to run to the fast forward button. Another stinker is “Shoes.” His attempt at something for the clubs goes sour with the help of KC on the hook. Dude just lacks that versatility to make a track dedicated to a female’s heel game work.
Clearly we face some faults due to lack of lyricism and diversity but N.O.R.E. makes up for it with his charismatic persona (i.e. “Drink Champ”). Noreality might not take a billboard spot from anyone of Rap’s heavyweights, but it will hold down his hardcore fan base easily. Queens stand up.