Happy 20th anniversary to Melvin Flynt – Da Hustler, the second solo album by rapper Noreaga. The album was released on August 24, 1999, by Penalty Records. Just when you thought the summer was over N.O.R.E. managed to bring more heat. Noreaga teamed up again with The Neptunes and released the first single “Oh No”. The single spent two weeks on the Billboard chart, peaking at number two. That single spawned the remix featuring Jadakiss, Capone, Big Pun, Angie Martinez, Maze, and Musaliny.
N.O.R.E., has done it all from rapping, acting, songwriting, and now media personality with his own show “Drink Champs”. True hip-hop heads know N.O.R.E. originally as one half of Capone-N-Noreaga better known as C-N-N, with fellow Queens rapper Capone. They met each other while both doing time in jail. N.O.R.E. would also go on to have success as a solo artist.
N.O.R.E.’s career began to take off in 1995, and Noreaga took his name after Panamanian dictator Manual Noriega as part of the duo C-N-N. They signed to Penalty Records in 1996 and released their debut album “The War Report” in 1997. “The War Report” was a commercial and critical success that made the duo well known among the hip hop audiences. The album received praise for using the “traditional Grimey boom-bap” sound which at that time was falling out in favor of a more futuristic sound. The album peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200 and the singles “Illegal Life”, “Closer”, and “T.O.N.Y. (Top of New York)” all charted on the Billboard charts.
Following the release of the album, Capone was arrested and sentenced to a jail term, which left Noreaga to take on a solo career and make an album on his own. Noreaga’s solo debut studio album N.O.R.E. was released in 1998. The title is a shortening of the artist’s name and stood for “Niggaz On(the) Run Eating”. The album became even more successful than “The War Report” debut, charting at #3 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the (RIAA). The album features fellow NYC rappers Busta Rhymes, Nas, and Kool G Rap to name a few. It also featured a different production style than The War Report, including the modern futuristic sound, with tracks produced by then-up-and-coming producers The Neptunes and. It also started their relationship with Noreaga as they would continue to produce more hits for him in the future.
In 1999, Noreaga would go on to release his second solo album “Melvin Flynt-Da Hustler” which was a moderate success, reaching the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and becoming certified gold by the RIAA. The album’s most successful single (produced by The Neptunes) was “Oh No” which peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart. Capone was released from prison in 1999. The two subsequently began recording music together again and released their second C-N-N album in the year 2000. The album, titled “The Reunion”, was not well-received critically and failed to match the commercial success of the duo’s debut or Noreaga’s solo albums. The group would then go on a hiatus and not release another album until 2009.
Noreaga continued to pursue his career as a solo artist. He officially changed his stage name to N.O.R.E.and after some delays, his third solo studio album “God’s Favorite” was released in 2002. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 and was later certified platinum. It contained the major hit “Nothin” (produced by The Neptunes), which reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became N.O.R.E.’s highest-charting hit.
N.O.R.E. changed his musical focus. He began recording songs to reflect his Spanish background and made reggaeton music. The reggaeton single “Oye Mi Canto”, was released in 2004 and became a major hit, peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. N.O.R.E. released a reggaeton/hip hop album in 2006, titled “N.O.R.E. y la Familia which included the lead singles “Oye Mi Canto” and “Mas Maiz”. The album has both English and Spanish language tracks. It did not chart nearly as well as any of N.O.R.E.’s previous solo albums, as it only reached #82 on the Billboard 200. N.O.R.E. went on to release two more solo albums, “Noreality” in 2007, which came with a limited edition DVD documenting N.O.R.E’s life and S.O.R.E.. S.O.R.E. was controversially released in 2009. N.O.R.E. would go on to denounce S.O.R.E., calling it an album he had nothing to do with and asked fans not to buy it. N.O.R.E. claimed only five songs on the album were actually handed in, while the rest were pulled off the internet, some of which came from 2007.
Noreaga continues to make a legacy for himself as he transitioned into a media personality. N.O.R.E. managed to shine at a time when hip hop was at its essence. With Mc’s Like Nas, Biggie, Tupac and Jay-Z he was able to come in and create his own lane. Noreaga’s unique flow and delivery were also followed by his own slang. N.O.R.E. now hangs with the heavyweights like The Breakfast Club and Sway in the Morning as an influential host. His show Drink Champs with DJ EFN gives love to artists and producers who were in the game for 10 plus years. His show is as entertaining as his album.
Thanks, N.O.R.E. For the classic album and salute to your 20th year anniversary, we wish you continued success.