On the 10-year anniversary of the release of Cormega’s classic debut album The Realness, the rapper spoke with AntiSellout.com and revisited the emotions that he felt upon the album’s release as well as what led to the creation of The Realness.

“July 24, 2001 I will never forget that day. That’s the day The Realness came out. It was like having my first kid. It was my first album that came out. I was crazy happy,” said Cormega. “I seen the posters everywhere. When you walking down the street and you hearing cars drive by with your shit it’s crazy. It resonates with you and it makes you feel appreciated. It makes you feel like you did what you [were] supposed to do.”

Ironically, if it weren’t for Def Jam’s alleged greediness The Realness would have likely never been released. According to Cormega he was initially going to release The Testament but once he was close to a deal with TVT Records, Def Jam kept upping the amount of money they were owed by the rapper. This led him to create a new album, The Realness.

“There was never supposed to be a Realness. My energy was towards The Testament. When I got off Def Jam I wanted The Testament, I was gonna put out The Testament. The Testament would’ve came out that summer, but Def Jam’s reluctance…My project was 250,000 so I had to give them back they 250,000. I knew that,” Cormega explained. “But also in the industry when you sit on music it depreciates, it doesn’t appreciate. I’m not Tupac. So for them to be owed 250,000 and then when I got a deal with TVT, ready to be signed, that’s gonna pay that 250,000 Def Jam raises it to 350,000. That was them saying ‘fuck me.’ So I said ‘Fuck you, ya’ll hold that Testament shit I’mma make my own album.’ And I made The Realness.”

Released on July 24, 2001 The Realness featured appearances from Mobb Deep and Tragedy Khadafi as well as production from The Alchemist, Sha Money XL, and more.

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