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AZ Goes A.W.O.L.
9/16/05 - exclusive interview


rapper AZ picture

In 1994, Brooklyn artist AZ appeared on "Life's a B*tch", dropping verses on Nas' debut CD. His skills shined in the collaborative effort and gained him an immediate underground following. Since 1995, AZ has released several albums to mixed media reviews, but never lost hold of his loyal base of supporters.  Last year AZ was to release "Final Call", but the album never made it to store shelves. AZ returned to the studio to record the recently released A.W.O.L. album.

A week after dropping, the heavily underrated MC took the time to speak with LatinRapper in this exclusive interview. First off, what can AZ supporters expect with your new album A.W.O.L?

AZ at his best, the authentic AZ, the new improved AZ at the same time. Past, present and future, (laughs)

How would you say this album is different from your last one?

This album, man, is all street, you know. No singers on this album, I basically stepped my lyrical content up. Every album I do that, and to me this is my best album.

What track on this album is most significant to you?

Wow. There's a few. City of Gods, and Still Alive. I spoke from my heart.

I noticed you didnít have too many major artists featured on this artist


Any particular reason why you went that route?

I mean, you know, its an AZ album at the end of the day, I like to keep it like that. I know I needed a few, which is why I went to the Wu, Rae and Ghost, they keep up. And CL Smooth is legendary, I wanted his aura on the album. Everything else is my vision, my life.

If you could collaborate with any rapper you haven't worked with before, who would it be?

(laughs) wow. God bless the dead, Pac.

As far as beats, who did production on the new album?

You know we had legendary Premier, Buckwild from Diggin' In The Crates with Fat Joe and Big L, God bless the dead. Heat makers, and the rest.

Have you been doing any shows to promote the new CD?

Yeah, I did a few shows, trying to get on a tour as we speak right now, I'm still performing. Got a big show next week with D-Block and Game, the stage show is impeccable.

IĎm sure youĎve been asked this before, but whatís the word on you and Nas doing a full album together?

Well, my door's always open. Nas is Nas, nahmean, he goes through his own zone. So when time permits, I'm ready. I donít want the world to think its me [waiting], its more or less him.

Youíve been in the game for more than a minute, are you involved with any side businesses outside of being an MC?

Well, Quiet Money Records is my own label, I'm the first artist, this album is distributed by Koch. I got a few artists coming out of the trenches, top of the year. Working on a clothes line, but it takes time, everything gotta fall into place.

You had a brief appearance in the film Belly, no other acting aspirations since then?

I just completed a movie called Envy, with Lisa Jay, Maya Campbell, its like a 2005 "Belly", its supposed to be coming to theaters by Christmas time, itís a good look too.

Not sure if anyone else ever asks this, but what would Anthony Cruz be doing right now if he never became a rapper?

(laughs) I couldnít tell you that. I'm a hustler by nature, I'd probably be doing something entrepreneurial, trying to capitalize. (laughs) That's crazy.

How much as the rap game changed since you had gotten into this business?

I mean, the rap game changes daily, just like human beings, minds, clothes. Rap has expanded to me, it went from state to state, coast to cast, still growing, like a monster that took over the whole planet. I'm taking the good with the bad, lots of bad things with rap, as with life. Lots of good things with rap, as with life. Growth and development.

Do you ever have Latinos giving you extra props or showing you love for being one of a handful of Dominican artists getting recognition?

Right. I do get that from time to time, itís a good look, you know. At the end of the day, we all minorities, know what I mean, I guess I speak that voice from the ghetto that everyone could relate to.

Ask hip hop heads to name the top three most underrated MCs, and you're often the first one mentioned. Why do you think you get less media attention than artists that you clearly outsell?

Um, I guess itís the machine that you're with. It plays a big part, the politic game, everything's politics at the end of the day, thatís the reason why. But at the end of the day, someone gotta play that part, and I'm built for it. The average person would have probably hung himself because they cant deal with the social ills of life.

What's more important: a platinum plaque, a Grammy, or five mics?

Five mics is respect, and that will outlast any Grammy. The platinum, you put out enough albums, it will add up to a million records (laughs). You put out 10 records, sell 250,000 still go platinum.

Any last message you'd like to add?

A.W.O.L. the album is out, itís the element that we missing in hip hop, I'm bringing it back. Show your love and support, I'mma continue putting out hits.

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