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
"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
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.' "