It's been common practice for rapper's to put their friends on by featuring them on their songs. As the only guest verse on arguably the best rap album ever made, it's no wonder that AZ garnered major attention for his verse on "Life's a Bitch.â€ Alongside Nas, the two young emcees spit verses that belied their youth. With vivid detail & a melodic flow Brooklyn bred AZ the Visualiza caught the ears of rap fans. As it was becoming vogue at the time, his debut Doe Or Die focused on the Mafioso lifestyle. Released in 1995, he enjoyed critical & commercial success, riding the single "Sugar Hillâ€ to platinum certification. Continuing on this path, he reunited with Nas to the form the Firm. Along with Foxy Brown & Nature, the group's self-titled album was panned by critics and fans alike.
Throughout the rest of the â€˜90's & early â€˜00's AZ bounced between labels looking to reclaim the success that he achieved early in his career. Always looking for that next hit single, he lost sight of the reason why listeners sought him out in the first place: gritty street tales. The closest he ever got was with "Problems,â€ fueled by the sample of DeBarge's "All This Love.â€ 2002's Aziatic was his return to form and garnered a Grammy for "The Essence.â€ He's since found a home at Koch Records, where he's released his last two (& upcoming) albums.
To most, AZ will always be best known as Nas' partner in rhyme. Over the years the two have teamed up over & over again to the delight of fans. Their lyrical similarities, along with a natural chemistry have always kept fans wishing for that group album that never seems to materialize. Like Nas, AZ will forever be held to the lofty standards that he set for his self on Illmatic. To some he'll always be viewed a rapper that never fulfilled the potential he displayed on "Life's A Bitch.â€ To others he'll be seen as someone who soldiered on despite lofty (& maybe unrealistic) expectations and found a lane to call his own.
But all should be able to agree that he's a skilled lyricist who's managed to last over a decade in a game. Something anyone should be proud of.
AZ - Doe or Die (1995)
The Firm - The Album (1997)
AZ - Pieces of a Man (1998)
AZ - S.O.S.A. (Save Our Streets AZ) (2000)
AZ - 9 Lives (2001)
AZ - Aziatic (2002)
AZ - Decade 1994-2004 Disc 1 (2004)
AZ - Decade 1994-2004 Disc 2 (2004)
AZ - Final Call (Unreleased)
AZ - A.W.O.L. (2005)
AZ - The Format (2006)
AZ - The Format DVD (2006)
AZ - The Memphis Sessions (2007)
AZ - Features and Misc.