Filed under: Steady Bootleggin',Tragedy Special
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Following Saga of A Hoodlum, it would be a few more years before we heard from Trag again. Having become frustrated with the struggles that come from being an artist on a clueless major label, plus an unforseen “up north trip”, he soon focused his attention on the bigger picture, and pieced together a project from the ground-up, investing his own money into two youngsters with a lot of potential. The duo I’m referring to is of course Capone and Noreaga, and under Tragedy‘s focused leadership they birthed the landmark War Report album, despite Capone getting locked-up midway through recording.
Tragedy had by this stage adopted the Khadafi handle as part of his offical title, and he explained where he was coming from in this interview from MVRemix:
It’s a real good story; even in terms of how CNN got started. And not to incriminate myself, and you can print this, but I had to take to the streets and do a lot of shit to get money just to get them in the studio. Sometimes that meant risking my freedom just to put us in the studio because I believed in the project so much. I had to get out there and grind and hustle and do all types of shit to put us in the studio cause I believed in what we were trying to accomplish and I believed in my vision. We came and renamed the globe on this side of life. Queens Bridge became Kuwait, Lefrak became Iraq. That came all from my mind, I initiated that Middle Eastern field because we were reporting from the streets.
During the same period, Trag was dropping solo material on his 25 Ta Life label, hitting us with winners like “Thugs Paradise”, “Judas Theory” and “True Confessions”. One of the best songs from this period was “Alluminati”, and cut he made with Iman Thug for the Iron Sheiks EP. Basically it’s some mixtape shit, complete with shouts to all the big tape makers of the day, and features a dope beat which combines eerie Arabic samples and wailing female vocal snippets over a thick piano riff and drum track. The rhymes combine 5% wisdom, ancient religious themes and street science with a precise delivery (“I didn’t ask to be here – God, see I was placed/Amongst Canaanites with six carved in face!”), a style which has been heavily influential in the sound and technique of current groups such as Jedi Mind Tricks, who have even featured Tragedy on a couple of tracks.
“Blood Type” is an episode from Trag’s falling-out with Noreaga, who proved to be less than grateful for Khadafi’s guidance and decided to seek solo stardom. This whole thing got squashed before shit got out of hand, so I won’t dredge up all the details, but here’s a few key quotes:
Trag on “Norefaker”:
Yo, Noreaga a.k.a. Nore-faker, beat biter, rhyme style taker/
Animaniac get clapped with foul gat, send you whole skeleton back to Iraq”
Taught you how to spit taught you how to breathe on beats/If it wasn’t for me you’d probably be on the street
NORE shot back with “Halfway Thugs Pt. 2”:
When I met this cat he was eatin’ veggie burgers, now you see him, yo, he think he about murders/ I used to write his rhymes and let him shine, knowin’ that he old school and out of time.
Ex-crackhead and lived in a crackhead crib,never sold records now he tryin’ to live/
But he was my man, I was the key he was a quarter gram,you like 37, lets give it up man!
Whatever went down between these two, Noreaga’s claim that he ghost wrote for Trag isn’t fooling anyone who’s heard “Superthug”!
This UK’s Best Kept Interview goes into a lot more detail about what happened through this period.
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