Don't Sleep: Necessary Notables
Independent Album: The War Report 2
Key Collaborations: "Bodega Stories" (featuring the LOX); "With Me" (featuring Nas); and "The Corner" (featuring Avery Storm)
Essential Info: N.O.R.E. says he's grown volumes since his debut, 1997's The War Report, but he couldn't stray too far from his roots on the sequel, released Tuesday (July 13).
"We ain't make something for the radio and we didn't make something for the clubs. We just really made something for the streets," Nore explained to Mixtape Daily.
"Originally, when we made The War Report, I didn't know that Manhattan existed. I didn't know that there was a Brazil. I never been to a Brazil when I made War Report. I might have never been to Brooklyn — I was Queens-ed out! Every verse I wrote, when I wrote for War Report, it was for my 'hood or for Queens. It really was for nothing else, because I never saw nothing else. That's why when you hear that [first album], you be like, 'This dude needs to travel.' It's like, wow, 'Lefrak, Lefrak, Iraq' all over it.
"You can't knock me because I never went anywhere," Nore continued. "The worst people in the 'hood are the people who never go anywhere. Those are the most miserable people because they don't plan on never going nowhere. That's who that kid was [on that album]. That kid you hear spitting on The War Report, he never went nowhere. The furthest he went was to Jamaica — and I mean Queens, not the island. I wasn't crossing these bridges."
While making the new LP, Nore was cognizant that he couldn't be the same rough-around-the-edges teenager again.
"So when I went back and did it this time, I said, 'I have to be cautious. I can't act like that. I done seen the world,' " he remembered.
Asked which War Report 2 cuts he holds in the highest regard, N.O. started with the album's lead record.
"My favorite joint is 'Pain' and 'Brother From Another,' " the LeFrak, Queens, veteran said. " 'Pain' is just like, you know when you get on the Scream Machine [at Six Flags Great Adventure], and there's a certain feel you get in your stomach, 'cause you know, for guys, our ba--s come up. Your ba--s twitter. When I hear 'Pain,' that's that feeling I get over there. It's a certain feeling like, 'Holy sh--. It's about to drop.' "
"Nah, 'Pain' is ill," Nore's partner for 20 years, Capone, offers up. "The first time I heard 'Pain,' I got goose bumps. That song, if you close your eyes and turn off all the lights, you might get scared listening to that joint. We got a joint called 'The Oath.' When you think of an oath, you think of pricked fingers. When you hear this record, you gonna definitely feel like you took an oath. Like you down with us, like you took an oath to be down with C-N-N."
" 'My Attribute' is a great performance record. It's uptempo, has energy. 'Hood Pride' will be a great performance record," Nore added.
With the release of War Report 2, the friendship between these two Queens natives comes full circle. Their bond stood the test of time, and the duo still has many years ahead of them.
"For me, it's like Nore said, our friendship is always gonna get tested," 'Pone explained. "Everybody knows at one point, our friendship got tested. That was publicly noticeable. But we came back stronger. A lot of people, their friendship gets tested. ... When you have a brother and you get older, y'all not always gonna live together for the rest of your life: You move out the house, he goes one way, you go the other way. But y'all still brothers."
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