Most emcees don’t have what it takes to make it to a third
album, but then again most emcees aren’t AZ.
Since his first appearance on Nas‘s Life’s A Bitch, AZ has been the author of some of the finest rhymes ever written.
Well, nothing has changed; AZ is still
an incredibly talented lyricist. The improvement that he needs to make is with
respect to his choice of topics (which are sometimes repetitive) his choice of
production (which is occasionally less than invigorating), and the need to make
an album that flows creatively from one track to the next.

9 Lives does have more surprises than
letdowns. One example is Love Me on
which AZ imparts some of his
considerable wisdom atop a hopping beat, and nicely timed piano chords. The Intro features AZ rhyming at his best to hard hitting snares and a majestic
melody. What Cha Day About has some
excellent layering of strings and great knowledge raps by AZ. Although it’s produced by Quran
I Don’t Give A F**k is a
real head-nodder with nice chorus scratching, and beat programming and
sequencing that sounds just like a Primo
concoction. Let’s Toast is powered by
a tight sample that was used proficiently late last year by MOP, and similarly this track benefits
from its use as well. The current single Problems
has the kind of tempo and character that fills both summer dance floors and

Truth be told this would have been a nearly flawless album if it weren’t for
the inclusion of the gimmicky AZ’s Back,
and the marketing mishaps of Everything’s
with Joe, That’s Real featuring Beanie Siegal, and the Foxy Brown assisted What Ya’ll N****s Want.