AZ Says He’s Down To Make Music For The Firm’s 25th Anniversary

Last month, AZ released one of the most anticipated albums of 2021. The East New York, Brooklyn veteran delivered Doe Or Die 2, a sequel to his lauded 1995 debut–and an album that AZ had been hyping since the early 2010s. Proudly independent, AZ self-released the LP on his Quiet Money imprint. It features involvement from Conway The Machine, Lil Wayne, Dave East, Rick Ross, Alchemist, KayGee, and an intro from Idris Elba. Moreover, O.G. Doe Or Die producers Pete Rock and Buckwild return for the sequel.

AZ spoke about his new album with Ambrosia For Heads for the What’s The Headline podcast (embedded in audio and video below). He addressed The Firm’s original lineup reuniting for “Full Circle” on Nas’ 2020 album, King’s Disease. That album earned a Grammy and showed range to the super-group quartet that debuted on It Was Written 24 years earlier via “Affirmative Action.” “It was cool, man. Any family reunion is great, right?” AZ says after the 24:00 mark. “For Nas, to reach out and even drop [King’s Disease], that came out the blue of putting us together—to put us on the album was good. To hear everybody back in cahoots, it was a good look. And–we went left, off-topic. We wasn’t doing the mafioso thing [like we previously did]. We just manned up and got on some grown-man sh*t—talking about relationships and that type of thing.” He adds that Dr. Dre added an element to the reunion. “Like you said, it’s timeless now. It’s legacy.”

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Dr. Dre executive produced The Firm’s 1997 album and released it through his Aftermath Entertainment label. The release topped the charts, marking a win for the group (which featured Nature in place of Cormega at the time) and the then-fledgling record company. Dre produced six of the album’s 18 songs. Notably, AZ says he is open to more Firm music while pointing to 2022 as a appropriate time to strike. “Next year would be 25 years [since The Album]. It would be great to hear a whole body of work again from the members.” Notably, The Fugees recently reunited for ongoing concert dates. Later in the interview, AZ suggested that he has lots of upcoming music in the works. “I would never stop. I’m trying to put out movies and put out my own soundtrack to [them]. I got ideas, so I’m never stopping.”

Elsewhere in the interview, AZ details his longstanding relationship with Pete Rock, discusses his move into book-writing, and breaks down some highlights from the LP.

The time codes for episode #65 of the What’s The Headline podcast:

0:00 Intro
1:15 AZ names his biggest Soul music influences
2:39 AZ details how he developed his Rap style
3:31 AZ names the 7 MCs who influenced him the most
4:50 AZ speaks on how life in New York has changed since the release of Doe Or Die
7:20 How AZ has changed his lifestyle to be healthier
9:35 AZ weighs in on the Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One Verzuz
10:40 Why he decided to have Idris Elba open Doe Or Die 2
11:40 What AZ still wants to accomplish in his career
14:17 The responsibility and benefits that come with owning his own record label
15:25 What he looks for in artists he would sign to his label
16:00 Working with Lil Wayne, Conway The Machine and The Alchemist on Doe Or Die 2’s “Ritual”
19:03 Why AZ wanted Rick Ross on Doe Or Die 2
20:11 How AZ selected the other MCs he featured on Doe Or Die 2
20:58 Featured verses that launched MCs careers
22:15 Not realizing the impact of Illmatic while recording it
22:50 The musical chemistry between AZ and Pete Rock
23:40 How he became AZ the Visualiza
24:26 AZ reflects on reuniting with The Firm and Dr. Dre on Nas’ “Full Circle” from King’s Disease
27:30 Why it took many years to make Doe Or Die 2
30:30 What AZ from 2021 will tell AZ from 1996
31:15 The pros and cons of keeping up with the music scene
33:10 Why it was more pressure to make Doe Or Die than making Doe Or Die 2
33:50 AZ’s book and his plans for 2022 and beyond

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AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline podcast. What’s The Headline has recent interviews with Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available to view or for listening wherever you stream your pods.

Press photo provided by MAC Media.

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#BonusBeat: Catch various selections from AZ’s Doe Or Die 2 on the official AFH playlist: