Perhaps Generation Z is solely familiar with N.O.R.E’s work as a co-host on Drink Champs but he didn’t get to that position without his reign as an MC. The rapper’s early years alongside Capone, and his subsequent solo career produced many hits that continue to ring out in clubs to this day. 


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The 1998 eponymous debut from NORE had one of the biggest first-week debuts of the year, aside from DMX. During his recent appearance on the I Am Athlete podcast with Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, Channing Crowder and Jared Odrick, N.O.R.E explained how he was the hottest rapper of 1998 — the same year Outkast dropped Aquemini, Lauryn Hill dropped The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, and DMX delivered back-to-back #1s with It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood.

“I was the hottest rapper out but I held out. I wanted a million dollars,” explained NORE to the podcast host. Marshall quickly questioned N.O.R.E’s claim which is when the “Superthug” rapper broke it down.

“I was,” he stated in response to Marshall’s comments. “In 1998? Who was it? Me, DMX, Big Pun, Cam’ron. I was the hottest at the time I signed. And, other than DMX, I sold the most in my first week. DMX did 220 [thousand], I did 163 [thousand]. Plus, the other 18,000 that they pre-sold from me! Because they bootlegged it and they still counted it!”

Check out the full interview below.