AZ Discusses Eminem's "Infinite," His Unfinished Tracks With Nas And "Cristal Competition" With The Notorious B.I.G.

Exclusive: AZ The Visualiza reveals if he's ever heard Eminem's emulation of him and if he and Nas have finally reunited on wax, before recalling his game of drunken Monopoly with Biggie Smalls.

For anyone still wondering over a decade later what the man Eminem can be heard emulating on the title-track to his 1996 independent debut, Infinite, thinks of the inspiration he provided to the pre-Slim Shady superstar-to-be, that curiosity can finally be quelled.  

“Oh wow, nah, I never peeped that, where that’s at?,” replied AZ when asked by HipHopDX on Tuesday (March 27th) if he has ever heard

Eminem’s monotone and multisyllabic delivery over the Jazz-tinged track for “Infinite” drew its inspiration from AZ’s lyrical exercise “Rather Unique” from The Visualiza’s classic debut album, 1995’s Doe Or Die.

“I know I read something in Vibe where he said that AZ and Nas influenced him,” added Sosa. “And that was a good look. I appreciate that a whole lot.”

“Actually, I’m trying to get some production from him now as well,” he further revealed after being asked if he and Em had ever interacted with one another. “We’ve bumped heads. We have shook hands and saw each other before, but we never really politicked. Yeah, but I definitely need that production from him.”

The urgent need to link up with Slim Shady is because AZ is currently hard at work on the second half of selections needed to complete Doe Or Die 2 as he looks toward a third quarter release for the long-awaited sequel to his debut. And while securing some Eminem-crafted tracks might prove to be as difficult as his previous declaration to DX that he intended to secure some beats by Dr. Dre for a sort of sonic reunion between the two onetime collaborators in The Firm, Sosa has already succeeded in securing new tracks from the heavy hitters that helmed the original Doe Or Die, including Pete Rock, L.E.S., D/R Period and Buckwild.

The latter having laced AZ’s latest leak, “My N**gas” . The Buckwild-crafted cut however is not an official single from Doe Or Die 2, but rather a warm-up track to take the temperature of contemporary Hip Hop’s often lukewarm listeners, similar to 2010’s triumphant, Lil Wayne-sampling “I’m Ill,” whose jubilant response from fans set the wheels in motion for AZ’s Doe Or Die: 15th Anniversary project.

“I’m gonna see the response I get from this little leak,” he explained of his DOD2 setup plan, “I’ma put another record out [next month], and I’ma keep throwing jabs right now. I know lyrically I’m built for it, I know musically I’m built for it, so we gonna see what turns out.”

As AZ contemplates a possible pre-album mixtape, and awaits a contribution to Doe Or Die 2 from his “The Come Up” collaborator DJ Premier (to go along with already obtained tracks from “Bedtime Story” beatmaker Baby Paul and the man behind the satin smooth remix of “Gimme Yours” for the aforementioned Doe Or Die: 15th Anniversary album, Statik Selektah), the self-employed emcee is fielding offers from labels looking to partner with his Quiet Money Recordings for his highly anticipated attempt at bridging the gap between 1995 and 2012.  

“I got some people reaching out here and there,” he noted of the interest from the industry, “but I know it’s always about the buzz. So that’s my main goal right now, to get the buzz back poppin’. And for me, I don’t think it’s hard. I’m in the best shape of my life, my hairline is still here [Laughs], and I feel good! I feel like I’m still the people’s choice.”    

While the people have long lauded AZ and his intricate wordplay, longtime Sosa supporters know that there is another emcee, one that has managed to match The Visualiza bar-for-bar on their string of classic collaborations (including “Life’s A Bitch,” “How Ya Livin’,” “The Flyest,” “The Essence” and “Serious”), that would be the people’s first choice for a guest appearance on Doe Or Die 2. And well aware of that demand for new classic recordings from the two, AZ took to his Twitter this past August to tweet out the much talked-about picture of a recently reunited “Poitier and Bill Cosby” in studio, suggesting some new music would soon be unleashed from one of Hip Hop’s greatest tag teams of all time.

“Me and Nas been on the road a little bit,” noted AZ when talk turned to his revived relationship with Esco. “We done did the Rock The Bells. We just came back from that South by Southwest. I know he just wrapped his album up. … And I think the time has come now for us to really put together what the world’s been waiting for. We did a couple of – I can’t even throw that out there, I don’t wanna throw certain shit out there, but it’s gonna happen. Put it like that: it will happen. We got some unfinished joints lingering around. So once they signed, sealed and delivered - the ideas is laid down already, so … I ain’t gonna reveal [if one of the joints will appear on Life Is Good] but the ideas have been laid down already. That I can definitely say.”

But can he say definitively if “what the world’s been waiting for,” specifically a long-desired duo album from Nas and AZ, will ever manifest itself?

“Well, first we gotta get past the first two, three or four songs and then that’ll happen,” he replied when asked. “But I know the first thing is his album, and then my album, and then hopefully that can come into play.”

“Everybody be in different zones at the end of the day,” added AZ. “It’s not like when we first started. We was gunners when we first started. We was both coming out the hood, so whatever it had to take. And we was vibing with each other on a daily basis, so it was easy access. Right now, he’s moving around, I’m moving around, he’s taking care of business, I’m taking care of business. But the want is there. We both want to do it. It’s just about the timing.”

Unfortunately, there will never be the time available to record with another one of AZ’s lyrical peers, The Notorious B.I.G. Although, as he noted on “Feel My Pain” from his aforementioned 15th anniversary re-vision release, he “puffed blunts with Big in the flesh,” AZ revealed during his last discussion with DX that a “chaotic” crew-driven environment in New York during the mid-‘90s prevented he and B.I.G. from working on music together.

But even then, and arguably more so now, the connection between the two was deeper than Rap. Little known by many Hip Hop heads is that the day AZ’s life began is the same day on the calendar that The Notorious B.I.G.’s ended. Since his March 9th birthday has become both celebration and mourning, and since the two Brooklynites befriended one another during their rise to the ranks of Rap’s elite emcees, AZ was asked for some belated thoughts on the life and legacy of Biggie Smalls as the Hip Hop community marks this month’s 15th anniversary of his passing.

“Big was the pioneer,” said AZ of his fallen friend. “He from the era … that golden era. And he spoke life, he spoke truth …. And I remember that day [he passed] I was working on Pieces Of A Man and I was standing downstairs at – I forget which particular hotel I was doing the album [at]. I was standing there, it was my birthday and I was waiting for the homies to come and celebrate, and they came early like, ‘Yo! You heard what happened?’ ‘What happened?’ And that shit laid heavy on me, man. Him passing and getting hit up out there in L.A. laid heavy on me. So, my birthday’s a celebration but it’s also a condolence for Big Poppa at the same time.”

“Aw man, Big is a funny guy,” added AZ cheerfully when asked for any vivid recollections he has of his encounters with his Crooklyn comrade. “When we did the ‘Dead Presidents’ video with Jay-Z and everybody at the table – He’s a very charismatic brother, very charismatic and funny. He was definitely a gut-buster. We was happy to be living, man - happy to escape the hood.”

And as for who actually won that Monopoly game between the three legendary lyricists seated at that table, when asked AZ revealed, “By the time it was over everybody was drunk. Everybody was drinking. We was having a Cristal competition [to see] who can drink the most Cristal back-to-back. I was gone. I think they had to carry me out. I was bent, so I can’t even tell you who won. [Laughs]”

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71 Comments

  • Anonymous

    White boys get off rap sites

  • afan

    You can't compare Eminem to AZ. AZ is a emcee's Emcee. Its got nothing to do with hate he just a better lyricist and more consistent then eminem. eminem is a beast on the mic and is also a legend but just not on the same level as AZ. The problem with Marshall is that he aint really been consistent or make good tracks since 2004. Slim shady LP is classic and his second album is good too but after that he kinda fell off. AND PLEASE DO NOT HAVE EMINEM PRODUCE A TRACK FOR DOE OR DIE 2. Leave that to Pete Rock, Easy Mo Bee, Premier, Buckwild, Large Professor etc. strictly that new york sound. thats what the fans want.

  • Anonymous

    Eminem and AZ are like night and day. To bring them up in the same sentence is an insult to AZ because it leads him to believe they share the same skill level. Stop crowning this indie loser the greatest that never did it.

    • Anonymous

      AZ is great, no doubt about it, he makes better music, but to say he got a better skillset than Marshall is pure hate.

    • Anonymous

      Shady got more skill than AZ. AZ just relevant from word of mouf not from droppin shit people wanna hear.

  • wu tang forever

    AZ DROPPPING DIMESSS

  • Anonymous

    If Em & AZ wind up on the same track together I could care less who produced it Make that happen Em, AZ might not be able to afford you but throw him one for free, you can make it up by charging Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne double next time they call you, lol

    • Anonymous

      That quote wasn't even from Eminem, that was ex-D12 member Eye-Kyu... Eminem can't rap about being broke anymore because well... do I need to explain? As for the super lyrical battle rap tracks, 99% of his fanbase would rather hear some introspective tracks or creative slim shady tracks. I personally don't have much of a preference over the 3 styles, but he's got to cater to his fanbase.

    • Anonymous

      Em's pretty fake now, if only he can rap like he did on Infinite. "It's a broke day but everything is ok"

  • Anonymous

    So glad to hear about My Niggas not being on Doe Or Die 2, shit was soo underwhelming, AZ is capable of so much more. Hope he'll release something that can fuck with The Format.

  • georgel

    I think its funny when people hate on eminem saying how he sucks and is overrated then you have all the top well respected rappers giving him props and respecting him. Goes to show u what u know about hip hop.

  • Y 0 L 0

    ah here we go again! This post is like 1 comment away from turning into one of those TOP 5 GOAT troll type post that have like 5 pages of absolute dog shit comments...it almost like if the story is good and theres really nothing left to say but something positive, u guys start talkin that emo internet shit...u guys are like a pathetic broken record smh...

  • Anonymous

    wants a beat from eminem, what is he high on dog food!

  • Anonymous

    Imagine if NAS and EMINEM did a collab, just thinking about it gives me the chills.

  • mcmastermind

    legend in the flesh.

  • Anonymous

    Why do rappers go to Eminem for beats.... thats retarted if you've got the chance to do a track with him get a verse...

    • Hiphophead

      He produced pretty much the whole of the eminem show, classic album

    • Anonymous

      @Tru I think he's a decent producer but he very rarely produces anything spectacular. @wolfman hopefully it does, but then again I don't know if they would sound good together on a record, especially over an Emimem beat, but who knows...

    • ETK

      eminem practically lived in the studio for years during his hiatus, maybe he's not amazing but he knows what he's doing

    • Tru

      more important question...since when is Eminem known for making good beats?

    • wolfman

      Might turn into a collabo if it can happen. After all, 'Renegade' is both produced and featuring Eminem. I'd definitely like to see a collabo between the 2 on a Em beat.

  • megaballa

    gotta love AZ. nice interview but the intro paragraph doesnt make sense ? i re-read it 5 times and it made my brain hurt.

    • 123

      It means, if anyone ever wanted to know what AZ thought if eminem's song, they can finally know now. He's never heard that. Lol

  • Tyson

    Lucky I got pressing business, cut your fucking dick off, and stick it striaght up that phunky lil ass of yours, BITCH!

  • Anonymous

    NAS & AZ, SO SO ILL

  • Ramon

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but none of the artists & producers the hardcore fans want to be on Nas album are on the album. No Premier, No Pete Rock, No AZ, No Large Pro, etc.

  • Anonymous

    one of the realest MC's in the game one love to the legend AZ..

  • Hudes

    Favorite emcee of all time. I grew up on nas and az I'm 26 now and I can't fucking wait for doe or die 2. Who likes the song Magic Hour with CL Smooth. Wow. What a beat. Lyrics are always on point. Any az track. Dude is a beast

  • Anonymous

    That Eminem "Infinite." album was so wack. "So what, you know about a sweet MC, in the 313 You don't know shit so when you see one flee You can be Run-D, you'll never beat the MC I'll stop the alphabet at S and got it down to a T" He tried to sound like Nas and AZ but his rhymes were too simple and corny.

    • Anonymous

      i think its been said enough but fuck it dude up there saying it was wack is a fool..but he probably trolling anyway ..dx is full of them now

    • Anonymous

      Oh and I love how you posted the weakest lines from that song - the rest of the verse is straight fire....

    • Anonymous

      Em's rhyme scheme is much better than the one's of AZ and Nas. Especially AZ's, his rhyme scheme is waaaaaaay too static.

    • Anonymous

      Infinite was Wack ????? I swear, this is the first time am hearing that !!!

    • Anonymous

      Infinite was lyrically ahead of everything at the time idk what your on... hopefully your just trolling...

    • kop

      the infinite album is dope as fuck...haters go eat shit n die

    • TRR

      ^^^Anon is a fuckin moron

    • Anonymous

      LMAO No, that's not good lyricism...No offense. That's wack.

    • tgk

      Uh, what? You tellin me this isn't good lyricism? Maybe not on Nas' or AZ level at the time but its why he had to change his sound. "Ayo, my pen and paper cause a chain reaction To get your brain relaxing, the zany acting maniac in action A brainiac in fact son, you mainly lack attraction You look insanely whack when just a fraction of my track spun"

  • Anonymous

    AZ, it's over dog. Retire and watch sports FT.

  • TaZzZ

    One of the few dudes left that ages like fine wine...

  • What

    ON the real this nigga AZ is dope,lyric for day, it just something with AZ why he never hit mainstream, this nigga with out more than half of the rap cat out here to sleep

  • Swag

    Who the fuck is AZ? I know who Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, etc are.

  • Anonymous

    Great read. AZ is criminally underrated, Its great to see him back. I cant count the number of times I've listened to Doe or Die.

  • land lord

    Props to AZ for sharing some golden memories from the golden era. RIP BIG!!

  • Alf Capone

    ill take az and nas over kanye and jay any day. jay is great and kanye is cool and all but come on.....id also take az and nas over em and royce

    • Anonymous

      Em and Royce are the only group with better chemistry then NaS and AZ. Hard to say which group is actually better though.. I mean Em is the most skilled of them but Royce is the least so who knows.. And yeah NaS and AZ> Jay and Kanye. Jay's done he fell off so badly and Kanye was just a good rapper never anything spectacular (although his production is incredible.)

  • Swag Boy

    lmao I dont like this old nigga. where is Lil Wayne when you need him? he would kill AZ wit 3 bars. YOLO ps. Im So Icy Boi's lil brotha.

  • jason

    cant wait for Doe or Die 2!! already got my niggaz bumpin on a burned cd in my truck since singles are no longer. i need to replace my original doe or die cd. i lost that shit somehow.

  • Yamz

    AZ is a good brother and an underrated talent. Looking forward to that Esco and Sosa album, if it ever drops, as well as Doe or Die 2, obviously. Peace, King!

  • chronwell

    That 15th Anniversary project is still in rotation. Its good that new lyricists like J Cole and Jay Electonica is out and ppl dig their styles but I cant fully get into them cuz AZ is still active. He's like 40 and dudes his son's age cant see him.

  • swag

    there is a reason y this cat is nevered talked about.and that is becayuse he is wack. stop overrating these old school rappers to us young fans. YMCMB OVO MMG #SWAG LIL WAYNE/DRAKE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> NAS/AZ

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