AZ - conducted by W. Lo  

AZ: Better Than Ever

October 2006

MVRemix: "That Jigga shit/ nine six / sittin with bosses / Dead Presidents" That's off "City Of Gods" off the "A.W.O.L." album. You were sitting with Jay-Z and Biggie in the "Dead Presidents" video back in '96, gimme a little history of how you met Jay-Z and how you ended up in that video and what it was like.

AZ: I mean, that's a Brooklyn thing, you know. Actually, way when I was younger, Jay-Z and I was in the same school. I guess he was a few grades ahead of me. And at school, I guess he was the king of emceeing in that school. When I came in, me and him had a couple of little battles, and it was cool from there on. I mean, as far as Big and everybody, that's all a Brooklyn thing, you know. Brooklyn is big, but it's small.

MVRemix: Did you actually battle Jay-Z back in school?

AZ: Oh, yeah, yeah. We used to go back and forth in rap.

MVRemix: Did Biggie go to the same school with you as well?

AZ: Actually, me and Jay-Z went to a school called "Eli Whitney," and it closed down. Then, that's when Jay-Z went I guess to "Weston House," and that's where him and Biggie Smalls went to school at. So, me and Jay-Z actually met first, before him and Biggie Smalls met.

MVRemix: Did Busta Rhymes go there as well?

AZ: No, he didn't go to "Eli Whitney" with us. He probably went to school with Biggie and Jay-Z, in that second school.

MVRemix: Do you have any thoughts on Nas joining Def Jam and uniting with Jay-Z?

AZ: I mean, I guess as far as career wise, it's good for him. You know, I mean Def Jam is definitely hip hop, it represents hip hop. Nas is hip hop. And I guess with them squashing their little beef, I guess that's a good thing. But you know, we'll see; only time can tell.

MVRemix: 50 Cent claimed on his song "What If" that you "put out bullshit joints," and you replied with the track "Royal Salute" that I believe is on your album, and you kind of address the situation. I was just wondering if you have any thoughts or comments on that situation as of right now.

AZ: Um, Fifty is Fifty, you know. He's a great marketing dude; he knows how to market himself. I don't think that he really wants to fuck with me. I guess if you into hip hop, you can see that I keep it consistent. I stay out of harms way, for my personal, ya nah mean, I just mind my own. But I guess, him being him, sometimes he just say things, just to say them. So I'm sure he meant no real harm, but it's a good thing that I was on his mind, I appreciate it. I basically just gave him a rebuttal, let him know, I know you a fan, let's be easy, and I respect your scam, and so forth so on I ain't go at him in battle terms, I just let him know it is what it is.

MVRemix: I really liked that track, the way you were addressing the situation. You weren't going all out at him.

AZ: Yeah, yeah.

MVRemix: So, do you think Fifty does this to other rappers to sell records?

AZ: Right, there we go.

MVRemix: What's your favorite song that you've recorded in your career so far? Do you have like a favorite or anything?

AZ: Nah, nah. I like all my albums cause it's a different mood and different zone. Each album had a particular few songs that I really appreciated, that I probably was going through something or whatever street wise on each album. So each album had definitely a song that I appreciate.

MVRemix: Well, my personal favorite probably has to be "Rather Unique" produced by Pete Rock off your "Doe Or Die" album.

AZ: Yes sir.

MVRemix: I love that track.

AZ: Yes sir. That one and "Gimme" with Nas.

MVRemix: That was produced by Pete Rock as well right?

AZ: Yeah, there we go, you're right, both of them. Those are my favorites.

MVRemix: And you haven't really worked with him ever since have you?

AZ: No, but Pete is a good friend though, but I haven't worked with him since.

MVRemix: Well, do you actually have anyone else particular in mind that you wanna work with in the future?

AZ: Well, I worked with damn near everybody except Pharrell. Pharell, and Kanye, you know, love to do something with them. That's it.

MVRemix: What are your thoughts on the phrase "Hip Hop Is Dead?" Nas got that album coming out soon, and I don't know if you know but Fifty actually came out with the mixtape, actually named after "Hip Hop Is Dead."

AZ: Oh shit, yeah?

MVRemix: Yeah, it was pretty funny. He's on the cover, and he's burying hip hop. In the intro, they got like some guy going that Curtis Jackson killed hip hop.

AZ: [laughs] Oh shit. [laughs] Funny guy man.

MVRemix: So what are your thoughts on "Hip Hop Is Dead?"

AZ: Oh man, hip hop can never die, to me as long as there's a ghetto. 'Cause hip hop is a culture; it's a way of life man. It just changes because of the way life change. Hip hop can never die. We are hip hop. And we had great artists that gave they lives for hip hop. So hip hop can never be dead at the end of the day.

MVRemix: What kind of music right now are you feeling?

AZ: Right now, what am I feeling, I feel the Marvin Gaye's and Teddy P's, you know. I'm into that zone. The oldies, the disco songs. Those are my songs right there.

MVRemix: I interviewed you a year ago, and you talked about maybe in the future having a Firm album. Do you ever see that coming about soon?

AZ: I don't think the public would be excited about another Firm album right now. So I'm not sure. It's gotta be something new or innovative going on right now. I think The Firm, now that's dead [laughs].

MVRemix: Do you think it was just like too long of a time period where it was just done and everyone kind of forgot about it?

AZ: Too much of a gap right there, and everybody's doing their own thing right now.

MVRemix: Do you think you'll ever record a song with Nas again? I think the last song you guys did was "Serious" right?

AZ: Right, right. I mean, I'm wondering if the public still excited about an AZ and Nas song. I don't think the public even cares anymore about that. I mean my door's always open to Nas at anytime. I know he's dealing with a lot of shit, but my door is always open, but I'm here, and I'm handling my business now trying to get Quiet Money off the ground. That's my focus.

MVRemix: So speak to me about Quiet Money.

AZ: Well, Quiet Money, I been working with Quiet Money which is my label I put together in like '98/'97. You know, I had a few artists come and go, they were on a few albums here and there. But right now, I'm focused on a new artist named Fresh. He's on the album. Actually he's on two cuts called "Make Me" and "Vendetta." And I'm just focused on him right now. We getting ready to start off 2007 in a big way.

MVRemix: What can people who buy your album "The Format" expect from it?

AZ: They can expect AZ at his rare form, even better, greater than ever, and constantly elevating. It's basically for all my hardcore fans. They can listen to that fluidity, that poetry, and the guidelines to living. I'm giving it to 'em.

MVRemix: Do you have any future projects in mind right now?

AZ: Right now, just focus on "The Format" and Quiet Money and my artist Fresh. That's my main focus right now.

MVRemix: How many more albums do you see yourself doing, or is this it?

AZ: Nah, nah, nah. I got about five more in me. Yeah, I'm not going nowhere. I decided to stay around for a long, long time. I feel better than ever.

MVRemix: Is there anything else you wanna let your fans in on?

AZ: I have returned Nov 7 [laughs].

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  • AZ 2005 Interview by W. Lo
  • AZ 2006 Interview by W. Lo

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    "Fifty is Fifty, you know. He's a great marketing dude; he knows how to market himself. I don't think that he really wants to fuck with me."