Following comments Atlanta rapper Trinidad James made in regards to the status of New York rap in today’s music, a number of artists have come forward to issue their response to James’ remarks. Brooklyn rapper Maino served as one of the most vocal artists to react to the Atlanta emcee’s comments, and this week another New York act has offered their take on the situation.

When asked how he felt about James’ comments, N.O.R.E. referred to the rapper as a “smart idiot,” primarily due to the aggressive way in which his commentary was delivered.

“I think he’s a smart idiot,” said the rapper. “His comments were actually brilliant, but his actions were idiotic. You know what I’m saying? I get the fact that you want to be like, you know, Suge Knight and say something about a city while you in their city. I get that fact, but you was aggressive. If he wouldn’t have said those same comments, I would have been like ‘Yo, this is y’all fault. You know what I’m saying? Boom boom boom.’ We would have been able to look in the mirror and been like ‘damn.’ But the fact that he was like ‘So what? If y’all wanna do something.’ Like that’s not—you’re not giving us advice. You don’t give advice by saying ‘Yo, if you don’t do this I’mma smack the shit out of you.’ You know what I’m saying? You be like ‘Yo, I suggest you don’t do that.’ That’s advice. That’s positive feedback…I don’t think he meant disrespect.”

After N.O.R.E. shared his take on James’ New York rap remarks, he was asked how the Southern rapper’s comments compare to Kendrick Lamar’s “king of New York” mention on Big Sean’s “Control.” In response, he stated that the two mentions don’t compare and went on to comment on his verse on “Jesus Take The Wheel,” a record that references both Kendrick Lamar and Kurupt.

“Well, I don’t compare it all because I believe that he piggybacked off of what Kendrick did,” said N.O.R.E. “I believe that he sat back. He seen how much response Kendrick was getting and he said he’s gonna do the same thing. You know what I’m saying? Not to diss him or anything, but he had one of the biggest records of last year or maybe this year. I don’t remember. And pretty much his heat has boiled down. I’ve done it. I’ve been there. It’s no problem. I’m not dissing nobody and I think that he did that—I think I actually forgive Kendrick more. Or I’ll take Kendrick’s lighter because Kendrick’s vocals was actually Kurupt’s vocals. That wasn’t his line…For Kendrick to revamp them vocals I’m not mad at Kendrick. I just wanna make sure Kurupt, you don’t get gassed. And it’s a friendly competition.”

Lastly, the rapper recalled meeting Kanye West at a studio in Los Angeles in 2007 and knowing that he would like the rapper, who he says was cocky even back then, almost immediately.

“He was cocky then,” said N.O.R.E. “He came in the studio and he was like ‘Man, y’all had me waiting for two hours.’ And I just liked him from there. And you know, we had the bad reputation at that time. We was beating people up bad at that time. So, for him to be like—he had on like a pink, it wasn’t a pink polo, but it was like a pink V-neck. It might have been a polo, but it was a sweater. And he was like ‘Man, y’all had me waiting two hours to play y’all some fire.’ And I looked at him and I’m just like ‘I like this guy. This guy is cocky.’ And it’s crazy because that’s my favorite artist right now. That’s my favorite artist because of his controversy. He’s my favorite artist because of every interview he does, I want to rewind his interviews. Like the Zane Lowe interview, I think each segment was like 20 minutes. I watched all of ‘em, all four segments. Because he says things that’s brilliant. And he’s not afraid to say that he’s brilliant.”

N.O.R.E. is currently preparing for the release of Melvin Flynt 2, an album he says will likely be his last. He revealed the news of a final album while speaking with MTV News in September and shared his plans to become a CEO.

“I think I need to step away from the game in totality as an artist per say, as N.O.R.E. to give these new artists their full shot,” said N.O.R.E. “Will I stop rapping? No, because I love to rap. But will I be putting out albums and will I be touring? That’s the part, I think I want to fully sit back and try and be a CEO.”

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