I don’t have words for the stinker N.O.R.E. just dropped with Pharrell, but his Drink Champs podcast is great and old “Jose Luis Gotcha / golden guns, Frank Sinatra” NoreAGA was easily one of my favorite rappers ever. His solo debut N.O.R.E. was an album that got enough spin in my Discman (!) to warrant a complete repurchase several years after its release, with classic records like “Banned From TV” requiring at least one repeat per play. I rediscovered “The Change” last week and decided to share it here.
Sorry, but he’s still Noreaga to me, even after the N.O.R.E. name-change. Hell, I’ll even take the old moniker Jose Luis Gotcha over the current acronym. Anyway, Nore links up with Busta Rhymes for this track, which samples “Woman To Woman” by Joe Cocker, a song you may recognize as the entire foundation for Tupac and Dr. Dre’s classic “California Love”.
If you don’t remember this song, I don’t even know what to tell you. Back then, when somebody put together a posse cut, you really got the feeling that each MC sat down and wrote their verse with the intention of trying to outdo every other MC in attendance. These days, posse cuts seem less like a cipher and more like a business deal, which is unfortunate. Nore got some of the dopest MCs doing it at the time to hop on this track, knowing they could rap circles around him, and still came through in the end with the charisma and energy that makes Nore who he is.
Nothing like old school Noreaga. As one half of the legendary CNN, early Nore was a beast on the mic with an awkward flow that almost made you think he was terrible and a charisma that could bring the energy on a song to a whole new level. “Married To Marijuana” is Nore’s ode to the green leaves set over a laid-back beat that pairs perfectly with the subject matter.
Bonus: I just found out that producer Charlemagne sampled “Something” by Al Green. Epic amounts of soul here.