AZ – A.W.O.L.

AZ - A.W.O.L.“My first album had no famous guest appearances” may have been a subliminal shot at Jay but Nas actually points out some more subliminal. Although he didn’t have none famous guest appearances, he would make his guest appearance famous. From his highly acclaimed verse from “Life’s a B!tch” his career went up from there to release his even more highly acclaimed 5 mic album “Doe or die”. From then on he hasn’t really made it back up there but he made a good career with his other albums and solid guest appearances.

“So Sincere” starts the album and even though it’s a nice soulful beat equipped with strings and other instruments to give it a happy victorious feel and Az uses a lot of his creative skill in the lyrics to suit the beat, it all seems too played out. It seems like once one does it well a flood of wannabes use it to imitate it and that’s what I feel about the beat. The next one “Never Change” I pretty much feel the same of it as the last one. “New York” featuring Wu members Raekwon and Ghostface is the first real big highlight of the album. Emile who seems to be getting a lot of work for a reason due to the dark, powerful bassline and police sirens giving you that real New York gritty feel which makes you feel your almost there while they paint an even more clearer picture as they pay homage to the streets which raised them. “Can’t stop” is another highlight. The beautiful piano loop used as the backdrop for his deep lyrics about his struggle in the rap game and why he must continue. “Still Alive” is a real low point for the album even AZ normally great lyrics are bad. Over a beat which seems to be a reject from an old computer game AZ does what I can only call a “Game” as he drops names of loads of people in the rap game. “AZ’s chillin” is also another low point. The beat from the usually good producer M.O.P’s “Fizzy Womack” he gives you this powerful and hard drum loop and some awful distorted electric sound while again AZ is below his par level of good lyrics to create a track which would have been done by some one like j-kwon. “City of Gods” brings back the ratings with its relaxing keyboard and funky guitars from Disco D although topic wise it seems all too repetitive from other songs from the album. “Street life” with its weeping strings creates a very sad feel while AZ, Half a mil and Begetz spit pure street poetry. On “Bedtime story”we hear AZ storytelling skills although he seems to imitate Jay-z flow which I can’t see why he would even think to do it as AZ got a cool smooth flow. The first single “The come up” is next and its nothing but beautiful. Its melodic strings and cuts and scratches of the usual masterpieces from NY legend “DJ Premier” and is enjoyable even more with AZ deep street poetry. “Envious” is another really good song with one big flaw. Its dark phantom of the opera type of piano beat and AZ good lyrics are nice my problem is Bounty Killer as on the hook and start he seems to ramble on some weird stuff like his on crack. The last track is actually three tracks rolled into one and all very nice from the funky simplistic guitar outbursts of “live wire” to the soulful “The Truth” ends this album well.

In all, this album gets 3.5 out of 5. Even though the lyrics 90% of the time are there and the beats are beautifully constructed it feels almost like Déjà vu as the album is very repetitive from other albums on the market and some songs even feel repetitive to each other. One more pro there is no skits. AZ got a cool smooth flow so every track is nice to listen to in that aspect. It’s a cool album to listen to once in a while.

Recommendation: Buy this album if you’re a fan of his or like nice beats and nice lyrics although I wouldn’t really recommend it to people who are bored with the usual stuff in hip-hop at the moment. Also if not sure about this album, download it see if you like it and see if your money will be well invested.

AZ – Final Call

AZ - Final CallLet the phrase “new AZ shit” catch a true hip-hop fan’s ears and he’s in a good mood. Arguably, the Firm’s finest, the only guest on Nas’ undisputed classic Illmatic, one of the most underrated underground NY MC’s around. The flow is smooth, the voice is chill, the lyrics & style are sick..probably the only reason this man has yet to find fame with his friend & rhyme partner, is his tendency to choose horrible beats to rhyme over, but he attempts to correct that with Final Call.


1) Intro ft. Lemon

Just an intro, with some dude named Lemon talking. Lemon lets the crowd know, vividly and persuasively, that the album is going to have a message. One of the best intros to an album I’ve ever heard.

2) Omega 

First real track on the album, and the beat is eh. Not a good way to start off the album; even AZ’s verse starts off slow. It picks up, though the beat (soft piano and a soft snare with some chick singing off-key) doesn’t. (Poor)

3) The Truth 

The beat is decent, a kickin snare & a funk singer in the background with soft horns in the background. Instead of a chorus, the song is broken periodically by a heated OG talkin about the old days. AZ seems like he’s resting, saving his good shit for later, but he has some good shit here and there. (Good)

4) Seems That Way 

A nice beat, really Cali-styled, laid-back. Great cruising song. AZ’s mellow voice and his complex, sicc lyrics really liven the cut, and the hook is good; somehow him talking over it adds something extra. (Great)

5) Talkin’ Gangsta ft. Tony Sunshine

The beat is aight, latin-styled, salsa-ish (complex drums), too simple for me. Tony Sunshine does a good job on the hook, his voice is smooth and catchy. More of a dance track, but AZ comes pretty nice. (Good)

6) Side 2 Side ft. Ron G 

Damn. We were on a roll. An 80’s styled dance cut. The beat is pretty wack…AZ’s lyrics are pretty good but really don’t fit the dance vibe, it’s disorienting. Sounds like an Aziatic outtake. (Horrible)

7) You Know ft. Rell 

The beat is nice, smooth, has a lounge feeling to it. Rell is smooth as hell, too. AZ comes nice on this while being commercial, a bit like Jay-Z. A lot like Jay-Z. He’s switchin up really well on this track. (Good)

8) No Strings

Aaahh…great. The beat is fire, smooth, but not laid back; AZ comes aggressive on this one, which always makes his flow sound better, and the lyrics are sicc. The chick on the hook is pretty good. (Great)

9) Gangsta MC’s ft. Lemon

Lemon talks his poetry in rhyme style here, he talks to modern “gangsta” rappers. Says some deeeeeep shit like “hip hop has always been about the rusty fork tryina eat like the silver spoon” and “how you know holla isn’t short for hallelujah?”

10) Live Wire 

God Damn, I *****in love this beat, jazzy but grimey. It literally sounds like AZ making his own cut for Illmatic; that vintage, flavorful style with the Vizualiza flowing old-school but crazy. (Excellent)

11) Magic Hour ft. C L Smooth 

The beat is pretty *****in nice, halting but smooth at the same time. AZ flows and comes sicc on the track as usual, shows his versatility by switchin up styles/schemes here. CL helps bring that smoothness and presence to the joint; shit is good on the beat, good on the flows, good on the lyrics, good as a collab..shit is just *****in good. (Great)

12) I Am AZ 

Okay, this is an odd one. The beat is aight, it’s really simple, but AZ just *****ing RIPS IT. Has that sound of a street freestyle on the corner, where the beat is improvised. If more was added to the beat this could become another excellent cut. (Good)

13) Girls R Free

Mmm..AZ tries a new flavor here, with some reggae shit. Him singing on the hook is unacceptable, and the beat kinda sucks. The whole vibe is just weak, AZ’s verses are aight, A’s flow is choppy due to the beat. (Poor)

14) Poor, Poor People ft. Lemon 

Lemon does it again, period. “Next time you see a young man wit a criminal record tryinna get a job, hook a brother up cuz that’s the truth behind why he sells crack and why your ass got robbed.”

15) Let Me Know ft. Aaliyah

Over a slow, kinda popish 80’s type jazzy beat AZ rhymes about his life. His rhymes are good, but the beat takes some getting used to. I don’t know why Aaliyah is listed on the track, I think the dude on the hook is singing something she wrote. (Decent)

16) Quiet Money Anthem ft. Nu, Young

This is a nice energetic beat, clapping making up the drum kicks and a string beat makes up the background. Catchy. The hook is pretty catchy too, an anthem as it says, suttin to be bumped in the ride. AZ comes pretty nice, Nu comes aight, Young is aight too. (Good)


My Rating: 3.5/5

AZ is making progress from his last couple of albums, though sadly he has no Nas collab on this one. He still seems to choose wack beats to try to counterpoint his lyrics for some reason, but he doesn’t do it near as often. He has some heavy joints on here, but mostly this is a progress album, not a breakthrough album. Shit that shows what he can do and gets people noticin him again, waiting for the next album (if one’s to come).

My Recommendation: Support AZ, let him know you’re out there, buy his shit. There’s enough good joints on it to make it worth the price, maybe get it on sale, but you’ll be largely satisfied, and wait for the Vizualiza to announce his next project.

AZ – Aziatic

AZ - AziaticThe first track I ever heard AZ on was The Firm’s “Desperados.” Surprisingly, the man’s verse kept up with the heavyweight Nas and even compared with that of Canibus. His mellow flow sweetened the deal for me, and honestly I DL’d the only album I could find, Aziatic, since his albums are hard to find where I live. I also plan to buy Do or Die. I was surprised people don’t usually pay attention to Z, but then I realized that you have to pay extra attention to dude cuz of his passive voice, mellow style and not-so-emotional delivery. Still not an MC that should be overlooked.


1) Once Again 

Using a sample from an older song, a laid-back track that suits AZ’s mellow style and voice, on which AZ raps a positive verse about his return to the game. Makes me feel good, refreshing. (Good)

2) A-1 Performance 

AZ pronounces, “no more crystal and Don P–straight Gatorade,” and delivers his promise (lyrically at least) on this bouncy track. AZ raps confident heat, though I wasnt feeling the beat (think of Joe Budden’s NBA) or hook, which didnt seem to fit well with AZ. (Avg.)

3) Wanna Be There 

Not feelin the upbeat, piano keyed, 70’s soul beat/singer combination, definitely doesn’t fit AZ. His verses are real good, throwin it up to deceased homies, but the track itself is more suited to Jay-Z. (Poor)

4) Take it Off 

A Westcoast club banger, a good beat and def more of AZ’s style. Not feelin the sung hook that comes by way too often, however combining Westcoast club with rhyme skills is a good thing. (Good)

5) Essence (ft. Nas) 

60’s-type slow-dance joint…not feelin beat at all. Nas and AZ trade verses like experts with scorching rhymes, but the gangsta/i gotcha back subject matter ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT GO WITH THE CUT. (Horrible)

6) Hands in the Air 

MAJOR switch-up, an ILL beat worthy of Kanye West with guitars and a blues singer, a piano and a crazy-as-hell drum beat, put together with AZ’s verses INSANELY well. One of my favorite tracks ever, GOD DAMN THIS IS SOME HOT SHIT. (Excellent)

7) Fanmail 

More tolerable beat, average to me but not bad, and it fits AZ’s style as he reads mail from fans; set up extremely similar to Nas’ Book of Rhymes. (Avg.)

8) Paradise (Life) 

Not feelin the piano lacing of the track, but the beat does a nice as hell drum beat. AZ spits deep on life. (Good)

9) Take Care of Me 

A weirdly catchy string beat with a sinuous hook, a sex track rhymed in story form, takin it to a different area. (Good)

10) I’m Back (ft. El Shaber) 

a Spanish, Mamba-styled track, nice, different beat that I’m feeling pretty well, with a cool hook that’s over quick so AZ can get back to spitting. More about AZ’s return to the game, with guest El Shaber laying down some pretty good stuff too. (Good)

11) Hustler (ft. Trav) 

Good, emotional beat with a deep hook (I’m a hustler, not by choice), AZ laying vivid images of death and loss. Trav, a second MC, also lays it down pretty well. Only hitch on this is that AZ’s voice isnt really suited to deliver heavy emotion–can’t hold that against him, however. (Good)

12) ReBirth 

AZ spittin some str8 fire, not much for subject matter. (Good)

13) Aziatic Outro 

Starts with a slow, memories-type beat, AZ talking; then fades and moves into a sick Westcoast, G-Funk beat with him spttin suttin real, as usual. (Good)

Rating: 3.2/5

A few of the cuts on here seem out of place, not fitting AZ at all, and his ill verses are hampered by that fact. However many of his songs are good (not amazing, just good) due to his own skills more than the beat, and there’s the odd Excellent cut on there. If they had, except for a few exceptions, released an acapella album of this I’d cop that and lay the vocals over something more suitable.

My advice: If you’re a die-hard AZ fan get this album, you can put up with whatever and listen to his illness. If you’re listening to him on recommendation and never heard dude before, you’re better off with Do or Die.