AZ Anoints Himself Brooklyn’s Greatest Rapper Ever (Also Enjoyed The Motown Musical)


Editor’s note: In “Tweets Is Watching,” Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.

AZ is gearing up to release his Doe Or Die II album on the world later this summer. One of the songs to be revealed so far is the emotive “We Movin’,” which was released at the tail-end of May and is produced by boom-bap architect Statik Selektah. It’s a teaser for an album AZ guarantees will be “the piece of the puzzle that’s missing in the game right now, with that soulful AZ flow.” Before he comes through with his promise, here’s the Visualizer going through his timeline references to Broadway musicals, deceased Brooklyn rapper Half A Mill, and his classic verse on a certain little album called Illmatic.

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How have you found the reaction to “We Movin”?
It was what I expected. I try to make my music for my core audience, I don’t switch up the formula just ’cause of some fad, so it was what was expected.

How did you hook up with Statik Selektah?
Ah, Statik is a hip-hop head! He was putting out mixtapes years and years ago–I think I was on one of the mixtapes–and from there I’ve been getting a lot of music from Statik and he’s a real advocate for hip-hop so we always link up.

Does Statik have any other productions on Doe Or Die II?
Yeah, he has another track on there. It’s still a work in progress but he definitely has another track on there.

So you feel any pressure following up Doe Or Die?
Nah, nah, nah. I’ve been in the game for so long and the love that I have for hip-hop, I think I’m on the right track. I have a love for hip-hop and I’m a lyrics type of guy. That won’t ever change.

What can people expect from Doe Or Die II?
They can expect AZ to the tenth power. For those that have followed my career and know what I bring to the table, this will be like the ultimate AZ album for them.

Are you ever surprised by the lines fans quote to you?
You know what? Everybody has their own special lines and when I go on my Twitter I see lines from a lot of albums but, yeah, I am surprised. I’m surprised at what they catch and how they relate to the things that I’ve talked about ’cause they’re personal to me.

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What’s your most underrated song?
I loved that whole Undeniable album, I think that kinda wen overlooked to a certain extent but that album is totally me. I feel that in time they’ll get it and they’ll start tweeting about it more. It was overlooked just through the process I was going through the album with the independent thing and the distributor was going through some turmoil so 100% wasn’t put into that. But time is everything and I know that in time all the jewels that are in the album will be fruitful real soon.

You gave a rest in peace shout-out to Half A Mill recently.
Ah, man, Half A Mill rest in peace. He was one of the Brooklyn representatives I brought to the table when I came through with The Firm album. He was a great lyricist. I remember I first met him in Brooklyn when Doe Or Die came out and he came to one of the shows. I liked the way he presented himself and he was rapping right there and I said, “Okay, I’m a keep you around.” It just went from there.

Who’s the greatest rapper to ever come from Brooklyn?
Ha ha! That’s a sneaky question, huh? I’m a say myself, I’m one of the greatest. I can roll with the best.

Where abouts in Brooklyn did you grow up?
In East New York. Man, it was just teaching me life growing up there. It taught me how to be in the street, how to be sharp and always be king.

What were you like as a kid?
Observant, I was very observant.

What did you think of the Motown musical?
Ah, man, Berry Gordy was serious, I mean! My family grew up off that music so as a young ‘un I digested it and to see it was great. I had my mom with me and to see her dancing and catching flashbacks was priceless.

What sort of Motown artists do you remember your family playing?
All the Marving Gaye joints, Michael Jackson, Smokey [Robinson], The Supremes.

Are you a fan of any other musicals?
I saw a lot of off-Broadway musicals. I saw Spiderman!

How was Spiderman?
It was good, it was tight.

What do you remember about recording your verse on Nas’s “Life’s A Bitch”?
You know, it wasn’t pre-meditated, that’s what I remember. It was organic, something that just happened and I was there and people were like, “Do this, do that.” It just happened to make the album. I thought that was a big deal.

At the time, did you think Illmatic would be as acclaimed as it has become?
Not at all. Not the way that Nas was being critically acclaimed. I feel like it was just a feeling, we were getting the album done and it was the last song and, you know, it was cool for me to be a part of it but I didn’t think it would be as large as it was.

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