Relief efforts in the aftermath of Haiti's 2010 earthquake have seemingly died down, but Queens rapper Cormega is still doing his part. On May 18 the onetime member of Nas' supergroup the Firm will release his single "I Made a Difference" on iTunes and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to Sean Penn's J/P HRO charity. The song features 'Mega, Redman, Lil Fame from M.O.P., Steele from Smif-N-Wessun, Stic.man from Dead Prez and vocalist Maya Azucena.
It was a June 2010 trip to Haiti with fellow rappers Styles P and the Immortal Technique that gave 'Mega his original inspiration to take action. "My motivation was to make a difference, because a lot of people, they stumble upon things or information and they speak upon it, but they don't act upon it, so I promised myself that I was gonna act upon it," he told MTV News. "When I was in Haiti, I made a promise that I'mma do something different and I wanted to do something to help."
Cormega, who hails from the Queensbridge projects in Queens, New York, isn't known as the most socially active rapper. His 2001 debut LP, The Realness, was ripe with vivid accounts of street life and the drug game. But 'Mega insists that he has grown since then. "What people expect from me is not necessarily who I am," said the rapper, who also did a concert and coat drive in support of Housing Works in New York City.
"I've always been in touch with my people; it's just that when people first got familiar with Cormega, I was straight from out the can," he said about his prison bid before his career as a rapper.
Instead, he insists that the disaster in Haiti is a human issue. "If you go somewhere and you see people outside bathing with water the way we drink water, like from little bottles, and they don't have no hot running water or you see people living in tents — not camping, living — if that doesn't affect you, like, I felt guilty about the things that I have."
Still, he couldn't do it alone. The MC applauded all his collaborators as well. "All the artists that got down, everybody did it from the heart," he said. "From Redman to Fame; Lil Fame did his verse in, like, 20 minutes in the studio. He wasn't even supposed to do his verse that day, but he knew the significance of it and he knew he was about to leave to go out of town. So he knew if he left there was a great chance that he would've missed being on the song."
You can purchase Cormega's "I Made a Difference" through iTunes on May 18.