20 Years Later AZ “Doe or Die” After first appearing with Nas, AZ dropped his debut album under EMI Records on October 10th 1995. The album was one of the earliest to highlight Mafioso type themes throughout, it opened up another world to hip hop fans, in which rappers enjoy the life of a mafia don. AZ, along with Kool G Rap, was one of the first artists to interlace this lifestyle into his music; the album takes us through a man’s ascent from small time thug to a mobster flush with power. The album cover even shows a mobster funeral – right down to the money covered casket. The booklet features pictures of AZ counting money as well as enjoying expensive beverages and cigars. 1995 was a very strong year for hip-hop, with classic releases by 2Pac “Me Against the World”, Mobb Deep “The Infamous” & “4,5,6” from Kool G Rap (debut), and AZ’s “Do Or Die” is no less regarded amongst these hip hop standard’s from the 90s. Singles for the album were “Sugar Hill” (certified Gold in 1995) and “Gimme Yours” (Remix) featuring Nas (which was not on the album, but the original w/out Nas is), and “Doe or Die”. 5 years ago a 15th anniversary edition of “Doe or Die” was released by AZ’s label Quiet Money Records. It contained production from Frank Dukes, Dave Moss, Statik Selektah, Baby Paul, Lil’ Fame (MOP) and Roctimus Prime. June Summers added her R&B vocals as well as the original album songs being remixed with new beats.
The album only had Nas as a featured rapper on the “Intro”, “Gimme Yours”, & “Mo Money, Mo Murder, Mo Homicide”. The only other artists featured on the album is Erica Scott for backup vocals on “I Feel for You”, Miss Jones doing backup on “Sugar Hill”, & Amar Pep on “We Can’t Win”. Production was handled by Lunatic Mind, Loose, Pete Rock, Buckwild, Amar Pep, L.E.S., DR Period, N.O. Joe, Spunk Biggs, & Ski. Samples from the album came from King Errisson, Minnie Riperton, I Level, Kool & the Gang, Bobby Caldwell, Les McCann, Big Daddy Kane, James Brown, Juicy, The O’Jay’s, Lou Donaldson, The Stylistics, & EPMD. The album sold over a million copies and peaked at #15 on Billboard 200, even reaching #1 on the US top R&B/ Hip Hop Albums. Stay tuned – 2015 is supposed to be the year that AZ comes back with “Doe or Die 2”!