Author Topic: AZ - Doe Or Die 25th Anniversary  (Read 357 times)


AZ - Doe Or Die 25th Anniversary
« on: October 11, 2020, 11:50:58 AM »
AZ released his debut album 25 years ago. What y'all think about this record? Is it a classic?


The Predator

  • Muthafuckin' Don!
  • *****
  • Posts: 3047
  • Thanked: 64 times
  • Karma: 360
  • Bow Wow Wow, Yippy Yo Yippy Yew
Re: AZ - Doe Or Die 25th Anniversary
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2020, 03:35:02 PM »

AZ’s Debut Album ‘Doe or Die’ Turns 25 | Anniversary Retrospective

Happy 25th Anniversary to AZ’s debut album Doe or Die, originally released October 10, 1995.

1995 is my favorite year in hip-hop history. There were so many monumental albums released that year that many landmark LPs invariably get left out of the discussion of greatness. One of my favorites of that year, and of all-time in fact, is AZ’s debut LP Doe or Die. It fulfills nearly all of the things I look for in a great hip-hop album—it’s creative, imaginative, beautifully crafted, and brilliantly executed.

If you’re like me, and a fan of complex lyricism, then AZ probably occupies a comfortable top-tier spot on your list of the all-time greats, and even higher on the list of emcees who never fully received their just acclaim.

If you’re not already familiar with AZ, let me briefly describe his lyrical ability. If there was a hip-hop university in the early ‘90s for aspiring emcees, AZ would have graduated summa cum laude with a double major in Advanced Lyric Structuring and Rapid Rhyme Delivery. Now, if you think this must have made him an heir to the throne of New York City’s giants of hip-hop’s Golden Age, namely Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane, then you are absolutely correct. But his prowess also placed him amongst the most promising of his own class of contemporaries. 

Picking up almost directly from “Life’s a Bitch” on Nas’ classic debut album Illmatic (1994), which featured AZ’s ambitious lyrics “And my mentality is money-orientated / I'm destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it,” Doe or Die’s lead single “Sugar Hill” reads as the next chapter of the hustler’s street proxy. With the same inspired rhyme scheme, AZ proclaims, “No more cuttin' grams and wrappin' grands up in rubber bands / I'm a recovered man, our plan's to discover other lands / Suburban places got me seekin' for oasis / Cristal by the cases, ladies of all races with dime faces.” Both songs were produced by Queensbridge Housing native L.E.S., with the sample of 80’s dance hit “Sugar Free” from the R&B duo Juicy setting the perfect backdrop for AZ’s visual narration and smooth delivery. R&B diva turned radio personality Miss Jones also assists the song in becoming a crossover hit for AZ, as she brought Katreese Barnes’ (of Juicy) lyrics to life for a new generation. 

Teaming with super-producer Pete Rock and the aforementioned emcee extraordinaire Nas, the trio create a gem with “Gimmie Yours.” Rock’s stardust helped solidified Doe or Die as one of the must-have albums of 1995 and Nas’ vocals on the chorus add a subtle sleekness like a well-placed accessory. With AZ’s rhymes (“It's realism, so I visualize it to live it / Movin' cleverly, with intentions of longevity / Strong pedigree got me touchin' papers others would never see”), we were assured that AZ was far more than just Nas’ collaborator and was well on his way to carving out a lyrical legacy all his own.

The other Pete Rock produced song on the LP, “Rather Unique” scored as one of the finest lyrical performances of 1995, even earning a coveted “Hip-Hop Quotable” in The Source Magazine. AZ boasts, “I Got a style sick as hell, sicker than sickle cell anemia / Slaughter your circulatory like leukemia / Filled with larceny, who want parts of me? I'm vicious / Mad malicious 'cause it's real on this road to riches,” further setting Doe or Die on its path to classic status among hip-hop fans and critics.

“Ho-Happy Jackie” changes pace as AZ offers a cautionary tale in the tradition of Diamond D’s 1992 hit single, “Sally Got a One Track Mind.” With “Sally” perhaps inspiring the tale of “Jackie,” AZ enlists D.I.T.C. veteran Buckwild to set the tempo for the more modern biopic of an inner-city temptress. 

“Mo Money, Mo Murder, Mo Homicide” lands as the unofficial theme of the entire LP. The slow-paced beat provided by D.R. Period helped backdrop the cinematic piece, as AZ trades bars with Nas, amidst excerpts from the 1991 crime film Mobsters. One of the pleasant memories of the mid to late ‘90s was the run of what would be dubbed “Mafioso Rap.” This subgenre helped create some of hip-hop’s most imaginative lyrics and visually dazzling videos. In addition to Kool G Rap’s entire catalog, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (released early the same year), Doe or Die, and Nas’ sophomore album It Was Written formed a solid blueprint for La Cosa lyricism.   

In 1995, Doe or Die accomplished everything a hip-hop debut LP could aspire to. It solidified one of the game’s premier lyricists by earning AZ critical and commercial acclaim, reaching platinum status and topping the U.S. R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. It has an impressive but short list of producers and doesn’t overshadow the main attraction like many projects of that era.

If you are looking for a linear trek to measure the etymology of ‘90s East Coast rap progression, Doe or Die is a direct bridge between the melancholy themes of The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die (1994) and Illmatic to the more cinematic gems of 1996 which include Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Ghostface Killah’s Ironman. Doe or Die was right in-step with the new standard raised by Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Mobb Deep, and likewise has aged extremely well, as evidenced by how fresh it sounds two-and-a-half decades on. 


AZ unreleased -



Re: AZ - Doe Or Die 25th Anniversary
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2020, 12:44:59 AM »
good album, but not classic IMO


I'm an ol' school collecta from the 90's SO F.CK DIGITAL, RELEASE A CD!


Infinite Trapped in 1996

  • Muthafuckin' Don!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11474
  • Thanked: 126 times
  • Karma: -1162
  • Permenent Resident of 1996 Pre-Sept. 13th
Re: AZ - Doe Or Die 25th Anniversary
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2020, 02:14:25 AM »
AZ released his debut album 25 years ago. What y'all think about this record? Is it a classic?

Album wasn't that great, but it did have two classic songs "For Real" and "Rather Unique".  Always make me recall the good ol' days when those joints dropped, great times, great memories

"I will make records as big or bigger than Death Row".   -Dre, Source 1996

"I didn't do nothing but make people money and I didn't leave nobody high and dry.  Any album (on death row) people are going to check for.  But it's time for Dre to worry about Dre.  I'm focused on the new Snoop Doggs, not like that but you know what I mean."

Dre -  Source 1996 cover

"Ain't trying to stick around for Illuminati (One World Government Takeover) / Got to buy my own island by the year 2-G



Re: AZ - Doe Or Die 25th Anniversary
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2020, 05:45:36 PM »

fire check this out and order the mixtape for 5 bux