interview by Meshack Blaq
photos by Animal Chan
I'll always remember the first three times I met Noreaga of C-N-N. The first
was on the day of his Los Angeles release party for the NORE album. He was
in town and we happened to bump into each other in the elevator at the BMG
building, or I should say my crew and his bigger crew crossed paths. At the
time, I remember hating on him that very day to my mens telling them, "Who
the fuck is this Nore muthafucka anyway?! What?!?" Next thing I know I'm
face to face with him and M.U. in the same elevator and all I could say was,
"You want some Kronick?". We became instant friends. The second time I saw
him was the day of his New York release party for the Melvin Flynt Da
Hustler disc. I shook his hand, took his flick and that was it. The third
time was later that night just after he came off stage and I grabbed his arm
for another flick. I nearly got a terrible beatdown, but the flick was
great. The first time I actually got to sit down with him and break bread
was when he and his partner Capone completed their Reunion LP and agreed to
do this Cover. Over a festive meal along with their Thugged-Out
Entertainment and Murder Unit brethren they openly discussed what it's like
to be BACK TOGETHER AGAIN.
NORE: (Toasting all at the table) Let's always look out for each other. Our
brother is our Brother and our sister is our Sister. If it's our sister, we
can't never touch her in a sexual way, and the same goes for our Brothers.
Let's keep our lives together the same way these glasses is because that's
what's payin' for all the times that we been messed up. Let's make sure we
gon' continue to be what we'll be; Thugged-Out, Murder Unit: whatever we
are, we gon' be under the umbrella. One Love-Salut' (All chant Salut' in
unison with glasses clinging)
CAPONE: One more thing; I Love my Dogs, Man! I Love my Dogs. Before the Rap
NORE: Yea, and I just wanna Big-Up Kronick Magazine. That's the only
magazine you can Ćmoke-out in. Let's Big-that-Up, let's Big-that-Up.
CAPONE: When they come to the interview, if you ain't got no ak-rite they
Ćmoke you out!
NORE: And Big-Ups to the bud- man. My man gives me a seez-nack every time he
CAPONE: No matter where we at Kronick always smokes us out!
NORE: He always gives me a seeze-neeze of weeze-neezie. No matter where you
see me, right? You always give me a seeze-neez-eaze, right? We been bangin'
KRON: Even in L.A-L.A.! When you guys made that first joint, "L.A.-L.A.",
from then to now a lot of things have happened to the point where even you
and Kurupt made a joint together. What were you and Capone thinking when you
made that joint?
NORE: Yo, Kurupt is my closest man on the West Coast. That's insane that the
closest person I got to me on the West Coast is Kurupt. That's INSANE!!! We
was talkin' about it and that's Kurupt's solo record, Yo. If you really
think about it, "New York-New York" didn't really have Daz & Snoop on the
record. It was Kurupt rhymin'! Daz & Snoop was just doin' the hook. And
Kurupt is my closest man in L.A. You know what that tells you? A lotta times
you don't control your own destiny, but you lead your own path into where
you're going. Meaning, Kurupt didn't really wanna dis New York. And guess
what? We didn't really wanna dis L.A. But we knew that was our opportunity.
Fuck That! I don't give a FUCK! I don't care Ćcause I Love the fact that he
came out that way and Snoop came out the same way. Snoop came out with Dre
dissin' Luke & Eazy-E. Niggaz like us are not gonna wait to get money. Fuck
that! If you gonna tell me that if I dis L.A. right now I won't get
recognition like that, I'm gonna DISS L.A.! I was fucked up, broke in the
Game. I respect the choices and Kurupt respects the choices too. Since we
combined, that's me and Capone's closest man's; Daz & Kurupt. We madd close
to these Dudes. But if we had never communicated, it'd probably been War,
Man! And believe me, it woulda been Real War. Because if we wouldn't be able
to go to L.A.; believe me, they wouldn't have been able to come to New York!
AT ALL!!! No L.A. artist! I don't care if you didn't even have NOTHIN' to do
with it. You would've had problems comin' to New York, Man! Straight up. But
that's our closest peoples out there. And that let's you know that if it's
meant to be, it's meant to be. But if it's not, it would never pop off. Come
on Man; literally, me and Capone wasn't ready for War with Death Row at that
time. But they didn't know our bluff Game was tight like Boiler Room!
KRON: So what does it mean for you to represent Queens bein' that it's
historic in Hip Hop?
CAPONE: Shit, it's like this Man; everybody got they own stompin' grounds.
Before Queens got on the map, everybody had they Queens jokes. It was all
about clownin' Queens this and baggin' on Queens that. But when Queens got
on, everybody wanted to suck Queens' dick. Everybody from every other
Borough wanted to do a song with a Nigga from Queens. But that's the Game
and that's how the Game goes. If a Nigga got Blacktops in Jersey and he's
killin' Ćem? Fuck it! I live in Queens so I'ma bring Blacktops to Queens.
Hopefully it'll kill Ćem. Ya heard me? So it's like, if you can't beat Ćem,
join Ćem! They couldn't beat us, so they had to join us.
KRON: Nowadays every Rapper switches their name up from this to that, from
that to somethin' else. You guys have stayed tried & true to C-N-N. How did
you come up with the names Capone & Noreaga? Capone you go first. Did you
get the name from Scarface Al Capone?
CAPONE: I ain't got no scars. I'm a pretty Nigga. I'm a straight pretty
Nigga. (he laughs) Nah, but on the strength though, like, I used to DJ. Me
and this Nigga Royal Flush. We used to DJ and we were partners. So my man
Rashim had nicknamed me Kiam Capone at the time. Then when I got the record
deal I just ran with Capone Ćcause that had been my name for so long.
KRON: So Nore? Everybody knows about the former Panamanian leader Manuel
NORE: Well I just wanna make one thing straight; me & Capone was Capone &
Noreaga before anybody was Gambinos. Before anybody was usin' Mobster names
we was usin' Capone & Noreaga from day one! I got Noreaga from up North (in
jail). This is how my name Noreaga stuck with me: I read a book up North and
they used to call me Noreaga here and there. I believe it was Capone or
somebody else who was up North with me, came home and called me Noreaga in
front of my people's. That book I read was so large that people in my house
(meaning cell block) thought I wasn't gonna read it. So after I read it, my
peoples sat me down and tested me.
KRON: So wait, wait-wait! Were you like a Malcom X Nigga in jail?
NORE: Hell no! But I was readin'. I was intrigued by readin' because you
gotta realize that when I went to jail I had a fifth grade reading level. I
went from a fifth grade reading level to a 12.5 in less than three months
because I never used my brain. I was always wantin' to sell crack; I didn't
wanna use my brain. So in less than three months I started readin' books and
was readin' shit like Noriega. It was so big, it was the biggest book I ever
read. Once I mastered the book, people tested me on it and said I was the
name of the book which was the Autobiography of Manuel Noriega. I read like
four books on him though and that was the last book. It wasn't exactly him,
it was just me wantin' to read about any muthafucka that was dissin'
America. They captured him in Panama and he was goin' through it like I was
goin' through it.
KRON: What's up with them Cash Money Brothas? How did "Play That Shit" pop
NORE: It's all Love. Baby' my man. He's like the CEO. That's my man.
KRON: I noticed how Niggaz are usin' your terms like `Fire Green', Ća
City-slicker got Country Grammar', and don't forget "That's Gangsta"! Ya
NORE: But heads ain't even recognizin' that! They ain't even recognizin'
that in New York, Baby!! But it's all Love with Baby & Suga Slim; all them
dudes is my peoples. They real down to earth peoples. Before they blew up I
recognized them, they recognized me, and we connected. And we always knew
that if either of us got to the top that we'd link up. Even if we don't get
to the top we gon' link up anyway. And that's how that happened.
KRON: Capone, how do you define bein' an Executive Producer?
CAPONE: I look at it like, Son gave me a tag name. At any given moment
somebody else could've handled that calling, but I got the call up North
sayin', "Yo Dun, help me Executive Produce this album", just on the strength
of Nore. Me an' Nore go through our bullshit just like any other group.
That's inevitable because that's us. But he gave me a name that I'ma have to
live with for the rest of my life, and live up to. And I literally did that
too. Every day we'd talk and I'd ask him from inside what he did that day.
KRON: What's up with your Man Q-Tip? We just saw him a few minutes ago.
CAPONE: (To Nore) Yo, I just saw `Tip. I had a lotta questions for Q-Tip,
Man. I had to ask him a lot of things I wanted to ask him.
KRON: It was a trip seein' him walkin' down 4th Street with his hair dyed
CAPONE: By himself, lookin' bugged-out! He was lookin' bugged-the-fuck-out!
Yo Dun, (to Nore again) Dun, DUN. Ya Man... yea he was lookin' bugged-out,
Son. But I respect Q-Tip on the reasons he told me he left Violator. That
was my main concern. I Love Violator but I just wanted to know why he left.
That just like... Nore, remember when we was movin' to Tommy Boy and we saw
Queen Latifah at Mr Chow's? We just had to ask her, "Why did you leave Tommy
Boy? What's up, Yo?!?" It's just a question you have to ask when you're
fuckin' with the people they left. So I had to get a clear understanding of
why he left Violator, Yo.
KRON: So Nore, would you consider yourself a hyper young kid on ginseng back
in the day?
NORE: Yea, I did. I do nowadays but I didn't back then. I dropped out in 7th
grade. I never really felt school. I never gave-a-fuck about school. I never
was that type of dude. I was more into the streets. And I was the dude that
was "in the movie theatre when the movie Juice came out and a kid got shot
at the movie theatre", in Queens. That was me and God Bless the dead to the
dude that I shot. He's dead now. I had nothin' to do with his murder some
time later, but God Bless him. Times change and people change and things
change. Then and there I felt like shootin' a Nigga to make me be well
respected. But that shit is nothin, Man!
KRON: Does Thugged-Out have anything to do with the influence of 2Pac on Hip
NORE: Naw, Thugged-Out is a mentality Man! I know people that work 9-5's
every day and is more Thugged-Out than me when I be in the Hoods of Lefrak
or Queens Bridge, or the South Bronx or Brooklyn, or whatever. They more
Thugged-Out than me and they wear suits and ties everyday. Thugged-Out is a
mentality, Man. You understand what I'm sayin'? When you got people that's
gettin' crazy-dough behind these other people that's bein' in the forefront
of people, that's bein' Thugged-Out, Man! Thugged-Out is a mentality, Man. I
mean, you can walk past people everyday; those whiteboys right there
(pointing to a table of 6-8 people dining at the upscale, tony Indo-Chine)
is probably THUGGED-THE-FUCK-OUT but we don't know it because they look like
that and we thinkin' Thugged-Out is a Nigga with a hat on backwards, a
bandana and a doo-rag on. We ain't thinkin' Thugged-Out means to do
something that's unordinary. And whenever you do something unordinary,
you're Thugged-Out. It doesn't mater your Race, your ethnic background or
your sexual preference. I know Homos that's Thugged-Out! Homo-Thugs, Man!
That's why when I said Homo-Thugs the thug is still in there, for Real! I
know Homo-Crackheads that'll pound Niggaz out, that I would have to shoot!!
KRON: What's up with Two-ways Nore? You got any comments on Two-ways?
NORE: Hold up!(To Murder Unit) Y'all heard what ya boy said? Wait Up. Yo
D-Boss, you heard his question? Tell him who originated Two-Ways, Nigga!
Look, I was the first person with a Two-way pager. When I had my Two-way
pager they told me I'm walkin' around with a fax machine or a VCR on my hip.
Or I got a Internet on my hip. You know what? Two years later, look at it!
Everybody at the table got a Two-way. Everybody in Hip Hop got a Two-way.
Every Record label got a Two-way. I INVENTED TWO-WAYS (Like Al Gore & the
Internet?). And I take full credit for ME! The ONLY person in THE INDUSTRY
that had a Two-way before me was DJ Clue. And that's it. But Clue did not do
anything with his Two-way.
KRON: Nore, have you calmed down after all the success or are you still the
same crazy-wild Kid that you were when you first got in the Game?
NORE: Hell yea, I've calmed down a lot. But I'm still the same crazy-wild
kid. I'm still on the run eatin'. I'm fat as a muh'fucka right now. I lost
40 pounds but I stopped workin' out. I got a rhyme comin' up soon where I
say, "they call me Fatboy; see my gun kinda fat boy! I done lost weight but
I like bein' Fat Boy!!" And that's Real because I was a skinny anemic dude
my whole life, and I finally had the chance to be fat. At first I was cool
with it, then I was ashamed of it. But now I like bein' fat, but I'm not
fat. I'm chubby and it's cool bein' chubby, Man.
KRON: Do people still get in fights at your live shows? Do Niggaz still
Thug-Out at your shows like there's no tomorrow? Are girls scared to come to
the shows cause Niggaz be Thuggin'?
NORE: Naw. After "Oh No" the girls took me from the dudes. See, "Super Thug"
was a Nigga record, but "Oh No" was a chick record; and the chicks took me
from the Niggaz. The chicks beat the Niggaz up, Yo! But when the girls took
me from the Niggaz, that's when I became Commercial. The Niggaz was like,
"Nore's Commercial"! Yea, I was in a Bentley with a thousand women in the
desert. But for the record: I did not touch any one of those girls that day
on the "Oh No" Video set. That's for the record! I'ma tell you the truth: I
was so happy to work with Hype Williams and spend a million dollars, that
you know what? Coochie was not on my mind. But even if coochie was on my
mind, I did not touch them girls. Because Hype is a very professional Real
Director. And the way he makes you feel; the way he treats you when you
spend that million dollars, is you FEEL like a million dollars. And for the
record, all those women that was there at the "Oh No" Video; I did not touch
one of them! And ALL of them DID wanna make me fall out of my element; and I
WANTED to be fallin' out of my element. But I did not fall out of my
element. That's for the record, for the Industry.
KRON: Do you have a problem with how the Melvin Flynt album did?
NORE: I don't have a problem with how the last album did because it still
went Gold. And I was happy goin' Gold because if I have the same amount of
fans goin' Gold, I don't give a fuck about goin' Platinum! But the fact that
it still went Gold and I felt I didn't do the best I could do on Melvin
Flynt because of my father's death. I'm not the kid who grew up in the Hood
without my father. I always had my father and I always had my mother. So
that put me under a lot of stress, but at the same time it still went Gold.
KRON: So how did it feel for a kid from Lefrak to spend a million dollars on
a Rap Video?
NORE: Well fuck even spendin' a million dollars. It comes a time in any Rap
artists' career where you're gonna HAVE TO fuck with Hype Williams. If you
have a Hit Record or get on that by fuckin' with this Nigga, that Nigga, the
otha Nigga; at one point YOU GONNA HAVE TO FUCK WITH Hype Williams. And that
was my goal, Man. I had to mess with Hype at one point in my career, or my
career wouldn't have been complete. So fuck the million dollars. That's a
part of every artist's career of people asking, "Well who did you work with?
Who you worked with?" Well, I worked with Hype Williams just like all these
otha Super Hip Hop Niggaz! You think I wanted to be the only muthafucka that
DIDN'T work with Hype Williams? What if Hype dies tomorrow, God forbid? I
wanna be the Nigga that's gonna be at his funeral sayin', "Well I gave him a
million dollars, too! I gave his ass a million, TOO!!", you know what I'm
sayin'- sayin'? ĆCause he's the Nigga that's in the Game where, "Alright
cool! You almost Platinum? Fuck with him and he's gonna make you Platinum or
he's gonna make you a Star". Fuck even if you're Platinum, that's what Hype
does; Hype makes you a star, Man! He makes you a STAR! That's why his name
is Hype. I'm tellin' you!
KRON: Capone, as a kid growin' up in Queens Bridge how is it for you dealin'
with Executive-type people in suits & ties on Madison Ave and Downtown
CAPONE: It's nothin, Ćcause I had the same Niggaz on Madison & Downtown
Broadway that was coppin' crack from me. Same white Niggaz I meet with right
now, they was the types coppin' crack from me. I had the Pepsi Cola man
coppin' crack. I had the Mailman coppin' crack. UPS man coppin' crack. Crack
doesn't discriminate. Crack is like a UPS job; anybody can get it! I was 12
when I started. I got my hands on a little bit of money and I was tryin' to
get Niggaz to work for me, Kingpin style. That was at 12 -years old. My man
Will Crime put me on to the Game earlier, so I was the entrance to the Game
for otha Niggaz.
KRON: How is the Hip Hop Game like the crack Game?
CAPONE: You gotta serve fiends! Rap listeners is fiends. If your dimes is
too little they ain't gonna buy it. You gotta make bricks; gotta make big
product and they gon' buy it. Now as long as I can serve the fiends, I'ma
NORE: Yo hold on, hold on, hold on. One second. Ask Capone; we be comin' in
the studio orderin' 20 bottles of Chardonnay. This is like our fifth or
sixth one, and Niggaz is RIGHT, right now! Russian Chardonnay Nigga! Put it
in the interview, Nigga! Sonoma Valley Russian River shit, Nigga! Tha Cali
Russians is doin' it! RUSSIAN RIVERA, Nigga! That's that new shit!
KRON: So Capone, did you read any good books while in prison?
CAPONE: Message To The Blackman by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is one. The
Spook Who Sat By The Door is another one. And I think everybody needs to
read Soul On Ice by Eldridge Cleaver, Man. That's a good book. But back to
that question about dealin' with Executives; I know I'm a good person as far
as speaking-wise to ANY group of people. I think I can speak to a male
audience and make Ćem feel what I'm feelin'. With a female audience I can
speak to Ćem and make Ćem clearly understand that everybody's not out for
the same goal. As far as the males, they need to know that the male figure
is most important to the society right now, without them feelin' inferior.
KRON: Did you ever feel inferior growin' up?
CAPONE: I'm the only child with no brothers or sisters, so I had to fend for
myself. I always felt like if shit hit the fan, I don't got nobody to call
on; no brother, no sisters. So I felt inferior. Otherwise I got my gun so I
could make muh'fuckas feel inferior. That's the way I went with it.
KRON: Was the gun an equalizer for you?
CAPONE: It's the immortalizer!!
KRON: Do you live in fear of another felony?
CAPONE: Yea. I'm just scared, Man. If the Police pull me over and they know
what I been through; they'd be like, "Oh we gon' plant this on him". I can't
stand it! So I live in fear, Man. It's like everybody's talkin' about
Illuminati. You either fear it or you'll become it. If you become you know
how to win. If you fear it, you lose.