It's been over a decade since AZ first came on the scene with what is arguably his most memorable verse in "Life's A Bitch" off of Nas' debut Illmatic (1994). But sadly where his career should've been at the level of Nas or Jay-Z, this man was barely hanging on the top 100 with his latest release A.W.O.L. and probably won't do much better with November 7th release, The Format. His 6th solo album to be released. Unlike most rappers, its not that AZ's material gets worse and eventually causing his sales to go down, its just lack of promotion and exposure. Back in the late 90's and maybe even up to 2001, you may be lucky enough to catch AZ on MTV or BET (usually the "Phone Tap" video). Today, the only time he will get noticed is on a few hip-hop forums that are around, praising him as the most under-rated lyricst. Which is the title he rightfully deserves. As a rapper that emerged at the same time as Jay-Z and Nas, he has maintained his talent uncompromised. And being that he has yet to establish himself in the mainstream, he seems to be just as hungry as he was back in '94. This is a true sign of a rapper doing it for the love of music. It must be, because after 12 years he still isn't seeing that Jay-Z money.
His failure of tapping the mainstream audience is good news for us. AZ may not know what the MTV crowd wants to hear but he does know what the true hip-hop fan wants. This is why his sound has stayed consistant with that New York style that made him who he is. Producers DJ Premier, Heatmakerz, and Emile have merged with AZ's flow perfectly in constantly and consistantly bringing satisfaction to AZ fans. In his latest effort, AZ once again has dropped a gem. That unfortunatley probably will go undiscovered.
Even though I think everyone should go out and buy the album, tracks have already leaked. What I got here are my favorites of what I heard so far. "Life" is a track produced by Heatmakerz but I'm not sure if it will be included in The Format. If anybody knows, let me know. After you hear it, you can always download it from zshare. By the way this may be the only place you can get "Life" on mp3.
Pre-order your copy of The Format at Amazon.com (below)