One of Queensbridge’s most respected alums, Cormega, spoke yesterday with HipHopDX to provide some early details regarding his forthcoming third official solo album, Born & Raised.

“It’s basically I was born and raised in New York,”Mega explained to DX about the origins of his new album’s title. “[It’s] a New York-based album, [and I’m] a New York-based artist. And it’s like, we’re down right now… I wanted a title that represented me and that represents where I’m from, because I feel like we’re [not] getting the respect that we’re due. Like, no artist should ever be able to just straight up violate New York ‘cause we’ve done so much for Hip Hop.”

‘Mega promises that he’ll be bucking the trend that has swept into even his beloved NYC of late by not featuring any Auto-Tune assisted singing or rapping anywhere on his new effort.

“That’s the dumbest shit I ever heard in my life,” he said of the ‘Tune phenomenon. “I’m not gonna put that shit stain on my album. ‘Cause that shit, that’s not gonna be here forever. That’s one thing that’s hurting a lot of [artists], ‘cause as soon as something’s hot muthafuckas say fuck what I been doing that made me who I am, I’m gonna try something new because this nigga just did it and he’s poppin’ off… So now you got respectable artists doing something that Roger Troutman made dope, but these people are fuckin’ it up. So I don’t want nothing to do with that.”

Instead of following his rotten apple peers as they start jumping out the window for a momentary trend, he has assembled an army of the greatest NYC-based beatsmiths (and a couple non-New Yorkers) to craft a classic Cormega offering—one that will hopefully turn his city back in a more traditional and less trendy direction. While the lineup for the album is not completely confirmed as of this report, a legendary list of trackmasters is rumored to include the lineups responsible for albums such as Ready To Die, Illmatic and The Infamous.

Currently being mixed, Born & Raised is a truly independent project, with the album having been funded by ‘Mega, who is just waiting to confirm formal distribution for the project, as he explained, “There’s gonna be a label behind it, but it will definitely not be Koch.”

While a release date is not yet set, the album will likely hit store shelves not too long after a planned showcase March 19 at SOBs in NYC (where only songs from Born & Raised will be performed), and sometime following the release of a new free downloadable mixtape that ‘Mega is doing to give back to his fans who have been waiting patiently for new material.

“Basically the [theme of the] mixtape is how we fed up with radio,” he explained, “and how sometimes you turn on the radio and you hear a bunch of bullshit but at the same time even the song’s that’s bullshit you hear ‘em so much you start liking ‘em. So what I’m doing is I’m rappin’ over whatever was hot within the last year… I’m rappin’ over ‘Hi Hater’ [click to listen]. I’m rappin’ over ‘A Milli’ [click to read]. It’s like me teasing muthafuckas like, I can rap over anything, don’t get it twisted. I just stick to [doing] music the way I do it because that’s the way I do it.”

‘Mega told DX that he might let his fans choose the title of the mix, a decision that should not surprise any posters on the message board at ‘Mega has previously shown love to his loyal supporters, even letting posters pick one of the Primo productions (from a prized Premier beat CD given to Cormega) that appears on Born & Raised.

“The board played a big role in my whole album,” said ‘Mega. “The fans is the most important thing to any artist, I don’t give a fuck who you are. At the end of the day, they the ones who pay your bills. So I always listen to what they say… My album cover was [shot] by the guy who did the [shots for] ‘The Realness’ and ‘The True Meaning,’ But somebody from my site played a significant role in the cover. A person by the name of Victory, she’s one of the mods. She cleaned it up, and she put her touches on it.”

In addition to the cover of his new album, and its Premier production, site posters also had their input listened to regarding a demo version of one of the album’s tracks, “Fresh.” The song featuring golden era greats KRS-One [click to read], Big Daddy Kane [click to read], Grand Puba, and PMD initially boasted a different beat. But after an unintentional leak of the song, posters encouraged a change of sonic direction, leading to ‘Mega commissioning Buckwild to remix the track.

It appears though that ‘Mega personally picked the featured guests on Born & Raised, but aside from fellow Q.U. veteran Havoc, he remained vague in revealing to DX who will be sharing the mic with him this go-round.

“I got somebody else from Queensbridge on the album that I’ve done a lot of work with,” said ‘Mega. “And the song [on the album] with the Brooklyn dude is fight music.”

But that Brooklyn dude is not former Firm brethren AZ [click to read], who appeared on both of Cormega’s compilation releases, 2007’s Who Am I [click to read] and 2004’s Legal Hustle.

“I would love to have had AZ on my [new] album,” said ‘Mega, “but that wasn’t even something that I was really thinking about at [the time]. But I would never rule out working with AZ [again]. AZ’s a great artist.”

‘Mega is completely comfortable with his status as an underground legend, as the Legal Hustle CEO confessed to DX that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I gotta be real with myself, if I ever break through [to the] mainstream I’d be surprised,” he said. “The song that Havoc did [on ‘Born & Raised’] could really break through, but my whole thing is… I gotta keep it more real with the people that kept my lights on all these years, the people that supported me when nobody was there… I’m not trying to abandon my core audience for the mainstream. I would never do that.”

Born & Raised is coming soon from Legal Hustle Records.