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N.O.R.E. and Reks to hit Tantrum Friday, Nov. 15

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N.O.R.E. N.O.R.E.

A few weeks ago, area hip hop fans lit up social media when news broke that N.O.R.E. and Reks have scheduled a show set for this Friday, Nov. 15 at Tantrum Event Center on 193 Broad Street in Bangor.  

The evening's headliner, N.O.R.E. (born Victor Santiago Jr.), burst onto the rap scene in 1996 as one half of the duo Capone-N-Noreaga.  After going solo, N.O.R.E. released the eponymous, platinum-selling 'N.O.R.E' in 1998.  Featuring cameos from fellow New York rappers including Busta Rhymes, the disc peaked at #3 on the Billboard album charts.  

Units continued to shift in the millions with the release of 'Melvin Flynt Da Hustler' and its follow-up, 'God's Favorite' (another #3 Billboard hit).  In a bold move for an established artist, 'N.O.R.E.' was officially adopted as a stage moniker and he began recording songs in Spanish which coincided with a stylistic shift to Reggaeton, reflecting his Puerto Rican roots.  

In 2011, N.O.R.E. delighted much of his fan base when he signed with Conglomerate Records (owned by Busta Rhymes). Earlier this year, he issued 'Student of the Game' and announced that he was modifying his stage name once again this time to P.A.P.I. (for Power Always Proves Intelligence).  

Six weeks ago, in an appearance on MTV, N.O.R.E./P.A.P.I announced that his next album, 'Melvin Flynt II: Da Final Hustle,' will be his last as he transitions into life as a music executive and steps away from performing life. Is his current 'Student of the Game' tour the last stand for N.O.R.E. as a live performing artist?  

Special guests for the N.O.R.E. show at Tantrum on Friday night will include Green Tank, Jon Haze, Qezo Smalls, Make 'Em Pay and a rapper who last visited the Bangor area while on tour in the early 2000s: Reks.  

'I played in the area a few times, and it will be great to be back in Maine,' Reks told me in a phone interview last week.  

Reks (born Corey Isiah Christie) came to prominence a dozen years ago as a member of the underground Massachusetts hip hop scene. With six CDs and seven EPs to his credit, Reks has two more in the pipeline: 'Revolution Cocktail' and 'Eyes Watching God.'  

As a student of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Reks decided to take advantage of the Boston area's burgeoning rap scene. 'It was a great environment for up and coming artists,' Reks remembers. 'There were a lot of vibrant underground cats. I felt the need and desire to become a part of that.'

Looking back today at his life and behavior during that time, Reks barely recognizes himself. 'As a young cat coming in, I let my ego get in the way,' he admits. 'I didn't respect the opportunities that were coming my way and I took them for granted. Over time I've learned to humble myself in the presence of individuals who can make or break me moving forward.   

'Everything happened so fast,' he says. 'I was in Billboard, I was doing huge shows with tons of people and I started missing appointments, including interviews like this. My ego outweighed the reality and I've learned the value of maintaining strong relationships.'     

Reks realizes that becoming a father has also contributed to his current 'keep your feet on the ground' outlook. 'My kids are my mainstay and the most important part of my life,' he says. 'They've made me try even harder so that they'll have equal motivation and dedication. Everything I do is to leave a legacy, and I want to make it the best for them.'  

He admits that he does not allow his children to hear his music. 'If they come to me when they're older and ask me about some of the lyrics, I'll be able to explain the sociological message to them.' And what if one of his children decides to follow in dad's footsteps? 'If they want to do it, they have my full support,' Reks says. 'I'll teach them what I've been through and what not to get trapped in. It's a dirty and difficult business but if they really love it, I'll support them.'  

Reks, who splits his time between New England and Hollywood, Florida, believes today's hip hop scene is as strong as ever, which he attributes to a widespread appreciation of good writing. 'People have awoken to great lyricism,' he says. 'It's breathing new life and new energies. There are so many different aspects to hip hop, from the poppy stuff to harder-essence hip hop. There's room for all of it. The energy of the crowd nothing beats that. It's amazing to see the response when I connect with them through my words.'

Reks has teamed up with N.O.R.E. (P.A.P.I.) for a new single: 'Jesus Take the Wheel.' The single was issued last week (available now on iTunes) and the pair has just shot a video due soon. 

N.O.R.E. with Reks and special guests, Friday, Nov. 15 at Tantrum, 193 Broad St. in Bangor. Hosted by B.Aull and Brandon Ross. Music by DJ 2 Toes. Discount tickets available at all Bull Moose locations. 21+ -$13  18+ -$18

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