AZ The Visualiza Turns 45 today. Happy Birthday
If you google the word underrated, one of the first things that pops up is the Brooklyn bred AZ aka The Visualiza. He has one of the best debut rhymes ever on one of the best albums ever. But didn’t end there. He’s put together a discography that spans over 20 years. AZ is an MC with impeccable style and a liquid magma flow. When he’s not dropping jewels, his rhymes show reflection as AZ ponders over the intricacies of life and the never ending quest for C.R.E.A.M.
Today is AZ’s birthday, so lets celebrate 5 gems that should be added to any hip hop fans playlist.
Doe Or Die
Fresh off his classic verse from “Life’s A Bitch”, AZ released his first single, “Sugar Hill” which set all the Clue, Envy, Doo Wop and the rest of the mixtapes on fire in 94/95. This buzz set the tone for his debut album, Doe or Die. There were a few more singles from the album, but one of the most underrated AZ songs ever happened when Erick Sermon decided to step in and remix “Gimme Yours.” The original was classic in its own right and featured even Nas. AZ showed off his lyricism and rode the smooth Freddie Jackson sample like a veteran jockey on a horse. The entire song could have been on The Source monthly hip hop quotable section. If I could only hear 10 more joints before I leave Earth, this makes the cut.
Gimme Yours (Remix)
Nas shows up on 2002’s Aziatic. “Lifes A Bitch” may be their best collab, but “The Essence” is right behind. Over another buttery smooth tapestry courtesy of the Mary Jane Girls, Nas and AZ trade quips admiring each others style. Nas had a line when he compared AZ to James Bond. I mean what on earth has more style and class than 007. This was nominated for a Grammy and I remember screaming at the TV when Outkast and Killer Mike won. The chorus says it all.
Yo we hard hit, just like Comacho and Vargas
Who’s the target? Now watch how we close the market
We both hard hit, just like Hagler and Hearns
Add the math, be concerned, if it’s beef you burn
Yo it’s sorta like, Poitier and Bill Cosby
‘Let’s Do It Again,’ a beautiful blend, let’s do it to win
The Essence feat Nas
AZ again spits diamonds and emeralds on “Wanna Be There” off the same album. This is one of the most melodic marriages of smooth and rhymes ever. The music was sampled from often forgotten 60’s and 70’s singer, Ronnie Dyson’s “I Just Want to Be There”. Our host effortless paints vivid portraits with his words and takes you through a tour of his childhood.
East New York, Eighty-two, First pumas navy blue
First wife Kiesha Wilson with love, she was my baby boo
Crazy crew, paying dues, few of us made it thru
Front window, Ms. Glady’s, that was my favorite view
Hated school, never went, hookie was better spend
Right around the time the god rocks smoking dead presidents
Wanna Be There
The mix tapes days of the 90’s was such a glorious time. We were treated to many gems including “Life Goes On”. AZ drafted a young Common to spit and invited the R&B sounds of Case and Allure to sing. This is one of the smoothest things I ever heard in my life. I first heard this tune from Napster and never knew what album it came from. It finally crept up in 2004 on AZ’s Decade, a double CD of his hits, unreleased songs and B Sides. But by that time, it had been on repeat since about 98. This is 90’s nostalgia at its finest.
Life goes On Feat Common, Case & Allure
What If I put out bullshit joints like AZ
Every chance niggaz get, they’d try and play me
on “What If” from the Get Rich Or Die Trying soundtrack, I was hella offended. Why the Eff is he coming at my favorite MC? AZ took note and dropped “Royal Salute” off his album The Format in 2006 as a response and o my damn was this banger. He took one verse only to deal with 50 and performed a lyrical drive by over an extremely jazzy backdrop.
Verbalized like 2Pac, wit a East-Coast bop
Then the shit just changed, had to switch up lanes
Past predict the future, though the present exist
Poetic wise I’m Karma Sutra, it’s a heavenly bliss
Schooled as a little dude, only derelicts diss
But you know ’em people is sick and they medicine mix
So 50 it’s only a run, enjoy this here
Matter of fact you ain’t done, enjoy this year
And uh it’s only fair I make this clear
You could neva fuck wit me, so don’t neva fuck wit me
AZ The Visualiza Turns 45 today. Happy Birthday.