12 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After jumping into the rap game with a classic verse on a classic album ("Life's A Bitch" off Nas' >Illmatic), AZ seemed destined for rap super-stardom. Major labels and a few singles followed shortly thereafter, as did a starting spot on The Firm's roster, though he never really blew up outside of the East coast, and, like many overlooked rhymers of his generation, he eventually went the indie route, continuing to release impressive music to a small but devoted following. Undeniable is his seventh solo album, and although it was released nearly 15 years after his debut, it finds the Brooklyn native sounding just as good — if not better — than ever. AZ's sophisticated lyricism, unusual near-lisp flow, and ear for cinematic production (from Large Professor, Nottz, Lil Fame, et al), is in full effect here, resulting in 12 tracks of rock solid hip-hop. Like Jay-Z, his wordplay is often wrapped in so many layers that it takes multiple listens to unravel everything, but it's well worth the effort. Lots of great stuff here, be sure to check "The Game Don't Stop," "Life On The Line," and "Parking Lot Pimpin'."

EDITORS’ NOTES

After jumping into the rap game with a classic verse on a classic album ("Life's A Bitch" off Nas' >Illmatic), AZ seemed destined for rap super-stardom. Major labels and a few singles followed shortly thereafter, as did a starting spot on The Firm's roster, though he never really blew up outside of the East coast, and, like many overlooked rhymers of his generation, he eventually went the indie route, continuing to release impressive music to a small but devoted following. Undeniable is his seventh solo album, and although it was released nearly 15 years after his debut, it finds the Brooklyn native sounding just as good — if not better — than ever. AZ's sophisticated lyricism, unusual near-lisp flow, and ear for cinematic production (from Large Professor, Nottz, Lil Fame, et al), is in full effect here, resulting in 12 tracks of rock solid hip-hop. Like Jay-Z, his wordplay is often wrapped in so many layers that it takes multiple listens to unravel everything, but it's well worth the effort. Lots of great stuff here, be sure to check "The Game Don't Stop," "Life On The Line," and "Parking Lot Pimpin'."

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About AZ

One of the numerous thoughtful gangsta rappers to emerge from New York during the mid-'90s, AZ enjoyed critical success early in his career, particularly with his debut album, Doe or Die (1995), but commercial success largely eluded him over the years. Born in Brooklyn, he initially garnered attention with his guest feature on "Life's a Bitch," one of the standout tracks on Nas' landmark debut album, Illmatic (1994). In the wake of Doe or Die's critical success, AZ collaborated with Nas in the ill-fated supergroup the Firm and released Pieces of a Man (1998), another critical favorite. But for the most part, that was it from AZ for several years as he fell by the wayside, not surfacing in a big way again until a pair of Motown releases, 9 Lives (2001) and Aziatic (2002), that didn't sell any better than his previous efforts. He subsequently took his music underground, periodically releasing albums such as A.W.O.L. (2005). In 2004 the double-disc retrospective Decade 1994-2004 looked back over his career to date, gathering up various highlights. ~ Jason Birchmeier

HOMETOWN
Brooklyn, NY

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