*

N.O.R.E.'s '5E' is a victory lap in his 20 year race

Ralph Bristout

 // Jul 27, 2018

On 5E, his latest album, N.O.R.E. places a fitting bookend to the chapter he started back on June 7, 1998. On his self-titled debut, which celebrated 20 years last month, the LeFrak native brought a platinum plaque back to the projects and infused into hip-hop a new voice, energy, and classic tracks ("Banned from T.V.," "Superthug") that went as far as hitting Michael Jackson's ear. On the song "I Love My Life," he raps "Use confidence, Thugged Out, aimed for dominance." Now, two decade later, the rapper turned podcast savant finds himself in a position that sees that line take shape threefold.

5E is a celebration for many reasons. It's a benchmark that finds N.O.R.E. delivering the energy that got him noticed 20 years ago, and he hasn't lost a beat. "I see you taking your shots, I won't fight back/ Because all that hating ain't gonna let you get your life back," he sneers on "Woof," one of many hypnotizing bangers. On "Benedicion," he delivers some New York rap justice alongside Fat Joe, as the two finish each other's bars in a solid back and forth. 5E also celebrates the 20 year dominance tied to the trajectory of N.O.R.E.'s career. Where he was once a hip-hop livewire (throw in the "what, what" ad-lib for good measure), the Queens legend is now a business... man, who just so happens to still find time to rap. The rapper's transformation over the years is one that deserves a hip-hop version of ESPN's 30 for 30. So on "In the Beginning," he isn't just boasting when he raps, "Let's keep it real, and keep it all reality, about to get rich again off pure personality." He earned that.

Besides eating, these days N.O.R.E.'s on the run... to the bag and the hip-hop hall of fame. So as he continues to celebrate his 20-year reign, 5E serves as a fitting tassel on his party hat. Stream the album below.

Video
From the top