July 7 In Hip-Hop History: Noreaga Drops His Debut Album 'N.O.R.E.'

By Tony M. Centeno

July 7, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

Noreaga already had the rap game in the palm of his hands when he and Capone dropped their debut album The War Report. Nearly year after their album impacted the music industry, the Queens rapper upped the ante by releasing his debut LP.

On July 7, 1998, Noreaga released his debut album N.O.R.E. via Penalty/Tommy Boy Records. In celebration of the album's 25th anniversary, N.O.R.E. took to Instagram to reflect on what the album means to him. He recalled how the project strengthened his status as a solo artist, and the difficult times he was going through right before the album dropped.

"This is my first solo Album !!!" N.O. began. "It dropped today july 7th 1998 it was hard on me cause my father died a couple days before on July 3rd !!! The album hit number 1 and later on went on to be platinum!!!! I had finally established my self as a real mc and a real artist !!!! Today and all weekend I once again have a reason to celebrate thank u everyone involved in this album u know who you are salute u and celebrate wit me!!! U either changed my life or I changed ya life but nobody lives was the same after this !!!"

His first album was released with 19 tracks produced by Swizz Beatz, Trackmasters, SPK, Marley Marl, DJ Clue, Dame Grease, The Neptunes, L.E.S. and more. It also includes collaborations with Nature, Cam'ron, Styles P, Jadakiss, Big Pun, Busta Rhymes, Spliff Star, Carl Thomas, Kid Capri, Chico DeBarge, Nas, Kool G Rap, Musolini and Maze.

N.O.R.E., which is an acronym for N****s On (the) Run Eatin', was supported by three major singles including the title track and his classic street joint "Banned From T.V." featuring Big Pun, Nature, Cam'ron, Styles P and Jadakiss. While both tracks will live on in rap history forever, his smash hit "Superthug" produced by The Neptunes is what catapulted him to the top of the charts. Noreaga previously recalled recording the song with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo in Miami on the 20th anniversary of the album.

"[The Neptunes] didn’t look like dorks in general, they looked like dorks to me," Noreaga told Billboard. "This is 44” waist pants time, and Pharrell had on tight [jeans]. He had on a choker. I thought that was hilarious. His first words was, 'No one listens to me. The one that will, will.' There was cockiness. He played me a beat, and I knew he was my favorite producer from this moment. Then he played a second one. Then he says, 'This third one, I don’t want you to listen to it until you get to Miami.' So, that was what really had me tempted. It was so hard not to hit that third song until I got to Miami."

While the entire album is a classic, "Superthug" remains one of the most memorable tracks on the album 25 years later. Listen to Noreaga's debut album N.O.R.E. below.


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