When rapper Noreaga turned into N.O.R.E. in the middle part of this century, at first it was, honestly, worrisome. Longtime fans adored him as half of the killer Queens duo Capone-N-Noreaga, who in the mid-to-late-'90s helped take back New York's crown as the seat of real street rap. In the face of adversity from West Coast gangstas and, in their own geographic corner, the shiny Puff Daddys of the world, the twosome's beats were hard and their lyrics harder. Their 1996 debut album was called, after all, War Report. At the turn of the millennium they jumped ship to Tommy Boy Records from Def Jam, lost the rights to their name, decided to go by CNN, and fizzled out after a shelved 2003 album and a number of legal troubles.
Enter N.O.R.E., Noreaga's new moniker for his solo work. The change in name, though it happened in the early '00s, by the middle of the decade marked a change in musical style. His hit 2006 single, "Oye Mi Canto," was pure reggaeton and despite its mainstream success, it left many fans aghast. Eventually, though, Noreaga moved to Miami, befriended top-notch local MC Garcia and the Crazy Hood camp, and came to his senses. He declared, himself, on a Garcia single he would perform reggaeton "no mas." These days, when he's not busy Tweeting about his diet and workout regimen, he's putting the final touches on an upcoming album titled N.O.R.E. Part II - Born Again.
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N.O.R.E. plays the Vagabond tonight and we're giving away a pair of tickets. To enter, e-mail me here with "N.O.R.E. TICKETS" in the subject line. We'll randomly draw a winner this afternoon.
N.O.R.E. Thursday, December 10. The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m., tickets cost $10. Ages 21+ with ID. 305-379-0508; thevagabondmiami.com.