Norega, or N.O.R.E. as his more recent solo project is entitled, is pure, living, breathing NYC gansta rap personified. The rapper, who met his former collaborator, fellow Queens-based hip hop artist Capone, whilst in prison, has lived everything he spits about. The pair a duo, Norega-N-Capone (CNN) in the 1990s, while Norega was also releasing solo stuff such as the hard-hitting, Neptunes-produced track ‘Oh No’.
His no-nonsense lyrics and thundering bass beats have earned him serious respect from hip hop fans, and as a live act N.O.R.E. still gives it his all at every show. This was definitely the case when I saw him play his first solo show in Toronto a couple of years ago at the intimate venue, the Opera House. Despite being on ‘rapper time’ (i.e. the show starting almost two hours late), when he did finally appear, N.O.R.E didn’t disappoint, playing arm-waving classics like ‘We Came To Party’ and ‘Nothing’, and ‘Super Thug’, which had the whole crowd jumping and shouting along to every word.
The small venue was filled with longtime fans, and the intimacy and closeness to the stage only added to the frantic energy of the audience, with the sub-woofers almost breaking with the power of the bass- exactly how a hip hop show should be. N.O.R.E. certainly still packs a punch live.