New York City’s history of producing seminal hip-hop artists is an illustrious one. It would be remiss of us to not call N.O.R.E., né Victor Santiago Jr., an indispensable component of that.
A product of the school-to-prison pipeline, N.O.R.E. would rise to prominence as one half of the East Coast mafioso duo Capone-N-Noreaga in an era during which hip-hop was at a commercial tipping point.
This summer marked 20 years of The War Report, Capone-N-Noreaga’s landmark debut album. A lot has changed since CNN’s epic introduction to the game; hip-hop has evolved many times since. The same can be said about Noreaga, who went from rapper to producer to A&R to podcast personality to traveling chef (shhh—wait for it) and back again.
Following the anniversary of his foray into the music industry, Santiago visited the VIBE headquarters to talk all things music, from his new deal with Mass Appeal and bridging gaps with fellow Queens rapper Nasir Jones, to recording N.O.R.E. y la Familia…Ya Tú Sabe before latinidad was the wave, and putting on for Southern acts like Cash Money and Pharrell before their respective glow-ups.
Watch parts two and three of N.O.R.E.’s retrospection as he talks supporting Southern hip-hop acts early on, plus more on 20 years of The War Report and its references to Islam and the Five Percenters culture.