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While there are many so-called thugs running around nowadays, only one man can claim the title of Super Thug, and that's NORE. Born Victor Santiago II, the Queens MC has been keeping it gully since his teens. Hustling in the streets on his Lefrak City 'hood (affectionately known as 'Iraq' by locals), NORE eventually caught an attempted murder charge and ended up serving time at the Collins Correctional Facility in New York. It was there that he would meet his future partner in rhyme, Capone, and form the seminal rap duo known as C-N-N (Capone-N-NOREaga).

Upon their release from juvie, the two immediately began hitting the studio and started recording music. Based on their vividly scripted tales of New York City crime life, they eventually caught the attention of Penalty Recordings, who signed the group in 1996. Their gritty debut, The War Report, was released the following year to rave reviews, and spawned classic hits like T.O.N.Y., Driver's Seat, and L.A., L.A. Unfortunately, Capone wasn't able to experience this success as he was arrested for parole violation shortly before the album was complete. As a result, NORE was left to finish and promote the project by himself.

With his partner locked up for a few years, NORE realized he had to do something to keep the C-N-N name alive. So he decided to work on a solo record. And in 1998, he dropped the now-classic N.O.R.E. LP, which went on to sell over 800,000 units. The record not only paved the way for NORE's successful solo career but introduced the world to the production genius of The Neptunes, who scored the album's smash single, "Super Thug." NORE continued to work with the Virginian beat smiths throughout his career with equal success. The Neptunes board work on his next two releases, 1999's Melvin Flynt Da Hustler ("Oh No") and 2002's God's Favorite ("Grimey" and "Nothin"), helped both discs rack up consecutive gold plaques. Now the thugged- out MC is breaking ground in a new way.

Recently signing to Roc-A-Fella Records, NORE is preparing to release his 4th solo LP, tentatively titled NOREminacle. Boasting production from Timbaland, Midi Mafia, Green Lantern and newcomer SPK, the album features guest appearances from Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, David Banner, Lil' Scrappy and an unreleased verse from Big Pun. Chock full of NORE's trademarked abrasive lyrics and witty punch lines over pulsating tracks; the project immediately evokes feelings of his first solo offering. "With this album, I wanna rekindle those flames of N.O.R.E. because that was my favorite album by far," says NORE, who released C-N-N¹s second LP, The Reunion, with Capone in 2000. "I really had fun in the creative process of recording N.O.R.E. so I'm approaching this new album kinda like a part two, or at least on the same level, 'cause that's how strong I feel the music is."

The quality of the music is evident in NORE's latest chart topper, "Oye Mi Canto," featuring Nina Sky, Tego Calderón, GemStar and Big Mato. Produced by SPK, the record is a melodic odyssey into reggaeton music, a Latin interpretation of reggae mixed with elements of salsa and meringue that developed in Panama 30 years ago. Constructed of catchy conga drums and keys, the track displays NORE's Spanish roots and canny ability to take risks with his artistry. "And this the first time this has ever been done because there's never been a rapper to do a Reggaeton album. 'And he a veteran/ by three of them, why I lay in the casino/ No matter ya race because today ya Latino'", rhymes NORE, who's half Puerto Rican and half Black.

"I don't really control my music 'cause if I force a record, it's not gonna come out good," says NORE of his creative process. "It has to come to me. So whatever comes to me is whatever I was feeling that day. It's like Picasso thinking of a painting he wants to do. Whether it's nasty or it's hot, or it's just something to look at, if this idea comes to him he wouldn't be an artist unless he painted it. It's the same thing with my music; I have no choice but to do it."

As the owner of his own personal recording studio in Midtown Manhattan, NORE can now act on his creative juices whenever the mood strikes. And based on the number of new bangers on 1 FAN A DAY, that happened quite often. "I'm a self-made person. I don't need to be around nobody. All I need is my lane," confirms NORE, who also heads up his own Thugged Out Militainment imprint. "But you know what's crazy about me? Sometimes you don't even have to give me my lane because I'm just going to take my lane. It's not like I'm taking it from nobody else, I'm just saying that I'm just going to go my own route. I always create that." Spoken like a true Super Thug.

--- from the official N.O.R.E. website

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Oye Mi Canto (single)

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