People don’t pay enough attention to AZ, it’s that simple. He’s aware of this fact, proving so on "Still Alive" stating "Who's the most underrated? G-Rap, AZ or Jada?" Even so, every once in a while an undiscovered talent that has been proving himself over and over has to eventually get the recognition he deserves. With "A.W.O.L." AZ manages this.
The story-telling ability AZ exhibits throughout this album is very compelling, his stories are told from a very well created perspective, examining various angles as he explains what went down and describes the scene, cleverly including the attire being worn. "Never Change" is a perfect example of this.
Enlisting a variety of talented guests; Raekwon & Ghostface on "New York," Bounty Killer on the Rastafarian feeling "Envious" and CL Smooth on "Magic Hour," AZ holds his own. The only guests which draw away from the quality of his tracks are Half-A-Mil and Begetz, their verses on "Street Life" just drag down the quality of the song with their simple rhyme schemes.
The production varies quite a bit here, from the dramatic sounds of "Live Wire" and "A.W.O.L." to the ol' school feel of "AZ's Chillin" and whimsical feel of "Bedtime Story," Sosa manages to dominate every beat he's provided with though.
"A.W.O.L." would be a great release to pick up for those unfamiliar with him, many people I've spoken with concur that it's his finest, well-rounded release to date.