AZ, October 1995

Gone are hip-hop's days of "beats for the jeeps" and half-ass lyrics. Today's artists seem to be taking a page from the earlier days when rappers such as Big Daddy Kane and Rakim were dropping lyrics that you wish you could. The Meth's, Raekwon's, Biggie's and Nas' have stepped up to the microphone and rekindled the Hip-Hop nation's passion for lyrics. At the same time, they have sparked every heads' interest in "coming up in the biggest way possible." With a mindblowing and classical first verse on Nas' "Life's A Bitch" and hit single "Sugar Hill", AZ has already proven himself worthy to be mentioned amongst "New York's Finest," the world for that matter. I recently had an opportunity to talk with the man who drops lyrics "...vivid enough to make living this a must..."

Right off the top, since today (Oct. 10, 1995) is the national release date of your album, how long have you envisioned a day when you would see the name AZ stamped on an album cover?

"I mean this is the first time, me having my first album. Overall, it's overwhelming, you know what I mean? I like a goal achieved and accomplished. And now I'm just sittin' back waiting for results. It's like judgement day for me."

Right, I hear what you're sayin'. Reading the album credits, I see that you used a number of different producers for the album. At least more than the normal rap albums that are coming out. What was the purpose behind that? Why did you choose that route?

"Overall, I wanted other producers to be affiliated with the album, but more or less, they was in tune to what they was doin' and the groups they was workin' with. It's like they had me waiting on a cheese line and I was workin' with a deadline myself. So I said, 'Let me make moves.' But, I could have waited and did any business with any producer 'cuz they all wanted to work with a fella. But, the wait alone was too long, so I said, 'Let me make moves.' L.E.S., Pete Rock and Buckwild I wanted to work with them. And those others that are on the album, you know what I mean, they newjacks, but I felt that they had enough flava that it was time for them to be exposed. Besides, everybody needs a shot at life."

In your personal opinion, do you have any favorites on the album?

"I got a couple of 'em. 'Uncut' is my favorite, 'I Feel For You,' 'Mo' Money, Mo Murder' and 'Gimme Yours.' Them my favorites."

It seems like a lot of "New York's Finest" on that "cash rules" vibe. But listening to your album, it seems that you stress that a lot more than some of the albums that have come out recently. What is your take on that "get money" tip?

"I mean 'cuz even though it's a bad thing, money rules the world. Overall it's my way of life and everybody's way of life, you know what I'm sayin'? To me, in my heart, it's 'Doe or Die.' Without money, you dead, you know what I'm sayin'?"

Exactly, you could see it in the inside cover. That picture is deep.

"That's a little dream I had. I just saw myself. Whoever said you can't take your money with you when you die. Without no money, you dead. It's a bad thing, but that's just the way the world is."

Heads were vibin' off your verse from Nas' "Life's A Bitch" even though most weren't aware of your name. Were you aware how big of a vibe you was spreadin'at the time?

"Not at all. Not at all. But then as time was going by, I saw that record labels was wantin' to sign me and all that and I didn't even have a demo or nuthin'. I was like, 'Oh sh--.' We [AZ and Nas] didn't put that particular joint together in order to be noticed, you know what I'm sayin'. For it to pop off like that was kinda live. It showed me that there was people out there that do got love for a fella. So I was like, 'Let me do my thing now.' I just jumped in to it and I did it. Any outcome will be appreciated."

Doing promo tours, have you seen acceptance in other cities around the nation like you would if you were back on the East Coast and especially New York?

"To tell you the truth, I did. Everybody showed love and that was kinda amazing 'cuz they definitely don't know nuthin' about a fella overall. For them to show love, that sh-- is fat. I appreciate it too. I just want the same thing for the LP, you know."

And no doubt, by listening to the album, you place your emphasis on lyrics. In your opinion, why are they so important in the rap game?


Yeah, lyrics.

"'Cuz they express the inner person that expresses them, you know what I mean. It lets you know what's on a person's mind and how they feel. And then it's like so competitive in this game, it's like, 'Let's see how much sh-- is on your mind.' Then again, lyrics also teach. You gotta have food for thought. That's where I think rap is gonna go in its next level. Even though they are gonna talk about violence, they are gonna have some kind of jewel in there that you can capitalize off of."

I know the name AZ stems off of the term "asiatic," but does "The Visualiza" come from your use of such vivid lyrics?

"Yeah, in all my joints I always say, '...vivid enough to make living this a must ... visualize the realism.' I always ... I SEE IT! It's there, it's pictorical. That's why I try to make lyrics pictorical so people can see it too. This is my first stage. I'm gonna be around for awhile. There's gonna be a lot of room for perfection, you know what I mean?"

Getting into that, what are the short term and long term goals that you have with this album and way beyond this album?

"Well, I definitely wanna make two or three more albums. This first album, I just wanna get love and let people really know me for me, even though I'm coming with a lot of different aspects. That will be a goal accomplished itself 'cuz it opens the door for the rest of my music to come through and those that I'm gonna bring behind me. 'Cuz I got babies behind me that are getting ready to come through."

Is there anything else that you wanted your fans to know about you that they can either pick up by listening to your album or out of your mouth, personally?

"Um, let me think of a jewel I could drop real fast ... there's no wrong way or right way to do anything, it's just your way of doing it, you know what I'm sayin'? And I'm doing this my way. That's all. They can take that and apply it to themselves. Instead of always trying to do the right thing, there is no such thing as wrong or right. Whatever you feel is right is right, you know what I mean?"

-- Paradise, The 411

All contents 1994-2000 The 411 Online