Noreaga's Favorite Alter Ego Is N.O.R.E.

Jose, Melvin Flynt and Papi were 'invited' to participate, but latest LP was

With alter egos and aliases like Melvin Flynt, Papi, Jose and his

nickname-turned-official-new-moniker N.O.R.E., Noreaga sometimes has a hard

time finding himself. Luckily, one of them came through in the clutch.

"It's funny 'cause [the song] 'Nothin' ' is the N.O.R.E. from the

N.O.R.E. days," he said, relating his rhyming on the new single off

God's Favorite to the persona he adopted on his 1998 LP. "That album,

that's the same dude. Since the N.O.R.E. album I been paging that

muthaf---er, but he don't want to return no two-ways. Only thing is I knew

he was still with me. Every time he changes his number he leaves the new

number, but then he don't answer his phone."

While N.O.R.E. was busy throwing shade during the initial recording of

God's Favorite, Ja Rule was showing love. The two former next-door

neighbors hooked up for the album's would-be first single, "Live My Life,"

last year and even sent it to some radio stations. That's when Noreaga's

album hit a roadblock.

"I came out with the Ja Rule sh-- and the record company came to me and

thought it was a good idea that we pull away from it," he said, explaining

why the album has been pushed back a few times since its original December

4, 2001, release date. "I personally liked the record, but what they said to

me is that Ja Rule has so many records out at the moment, at some point

radio stations and video stations are gonna have to pick and choose which Ja

Rule records to play."

While heading back into the studio this year with the Neptunes to record a

few more songs for the album, which meanwhile was getting bootlegged,

Noreaga finally got in touch with a old friend.

"I got a page from N.O.R.E. That was the first time he returned my page

— when it was time, when it was hectic," he said, still talking about

himself in the third person. "We invited Jose down and told Melvin Flynt and

Papi to come down, but N.O.R.E. did the record. All the characters were

there. N.O.R.E. was mad. I was mad. I didn't want to go back [in the

studio]. At the time I didn't understand that Ja had seven records out and

all the records he had was with big dogs like Mary [J. Blige] and Jennifer

Lopez and Mariah Carey. So when I got in the booth it was the old N.O.R.E."

Not only is Noreaga rhyming like his old self these days, he's looking like

the grimacing, camouflaged Noreaga who stood on the cover of

Capone-N-Noreaga's 1997 debut album, The War Report. The rapper can

no longer poke fun at the potbelly he grew over the years — he's shed

50 pounds.

"I've definitely been working out," said Noreaga, who played basketball and

ran with a parachute on his back in Central Park as part of his work

regimen. "My father was a boxer, and I met with this trainer and he told me

that the only clinically proven way to break down fat was jumping rope. I

tried it one day and realized it was in my blood. Even when I been out

drinking or bugging out of town, I'll have the rope with me and be up in the

room [jumping]."

From jumping rope to being off the chain, Noreaga said he already knows what

"Nothin' "s follow up will be — "Full Mode," another Neptunes-produced

hay-maker. The song is derived from his own unique set of slang words.

" 'Full Mode' is when you're out of character, when you're in rare form.

When you're drunk as hell and you almost got spaghetti legs. When you're not

yourself. You say 'Oh, he's in full mode tonight.' "