Cory McKay, better known as Cormega, is an American emcee noted for his street topics and style representative of Queensbridge. He is also famous for his hip-hop feud with childhood friend and fellow emcee Nas, with whom he had settled his differences.
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 has since denied it was "a book a week", saying "that's probably some Wikipedia bullshit. Everything they ever say is wrong."
Along with fellow QB-native Tragedy Khadafi, Cormega is perhaps most respected for his candid and often poignant rhymes which characterize inner-city living without ever seeming verbose. Despite never garnering the mainstream appeal of contemporaries such as Nas and Mobb Deep, he remains respected as an emcee's emcee who tells it as it is without glamourising the world of crime as many other emcee's are known to do. Cormega recorded an album as MC Cor with Marley Marl in the late 80's, due to being convicted of robbery in the second degree he ended up in jail and the album shelved. Later, he was brought to the hip-hop world's attention in 1989. 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 '90s, like fellow QB-native Lakey The Kid, despite still being incarcerated, Cormega gained notoriety following a shout-out from Nas on the Q-Tip-produced "One Love", from his critically acclaimed Illmatic album. Coupled with Cormega's already established rhyming prowess this created considerable street buzz despite an obvious lack of outstanding material.
Hence 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 album The 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, 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.