have you been feeling lately?
in work mode man. Just in work mode, trying to get it back and popping.
do you feel about the way AWOL came out?
off of all my albums, I always put my all into it. With this album, I'm
just trying to hit some home runs now.
got a lot of big names for production, how important was that to you?
always a necessity, I always tried to bring that forth on all my albums,
but sometimes you miss in the end. With this one, I just wanted it to
be all street. I went and got Heatmakerz, Primo, my man Disco D that's
done some of 50's joints, Buckwild, and a few up-and-coming cats that
Change" was a dope song, what did you want to give fans with that
was about my personal life experiences, and I know that people go through
that daily. Whether they see people that they hadn't seen in a long time
or they hear some bullshit happen, I know a lot of people go through that,
so I wanted to talk about my experiences and touch people that went through
the same thing I went through.
took it back on "AZ's Chillin
That's my Milk and Giz! You know when that record came out, they had the
streets on lock. I know what it did for me when I felt that vibe when
it would come on. I wanted to give that back to the peoples. That's when
Hip Hop was definitely Hip Hop. When people really catch on and they hear
the whole album, they're going to be shocked and amazed, and really appreciate
been in Hip Hop for awhile, so when you do an old-school song it sounds
authentic. Do you feel like that authenticity is missing in a lot of the
new songs coming out?
game is always changing, it's always growing. The East Coast had it, the
West Coast did what they had to do, the Midwest
but the originators,
they started it and we definitely have to take it back to the essence.
Let it keep on going around and do a 360.
was it working with Primo on "The Come Up?"
was a blessing. Primo's been low for a minute. But if you're an artist
in New York, and you're official, you definitely have to go through Primo.
I dealt with Primo on the D'Angelo remix, and that was cool. I was more
or less affiliated with Pete Rock back then because he was close with
heavy D and all that, and I was close with him. But you need a Primo track
in your life if you want to be considered a legend and go down in history.
was it working with him in the studio?
and him are both vets right now, so it was just automatic. It bugged me
out. I'm sure his story will be the same with him working with Biggie
and Nas. It was just automatic, 1-2-3, ten to fifteen minutes and it's
Come Up" video was dope, why shoot it in black and white?
and white is the essence. That's the beginning of everything. Everything
started out dark, and then it was brought to the light. And I just wanted
to take it back to the hood where Hip Hop started.
was it working with Buckwild?
know he's legendary, from Digging in the Crates, Big L, rest in peace,
He knows what Hip Hop is so it was just automatic.
lot of people are probably expecting to see Nas on the album, is there
any specific reason why he's not on "AWOL?"
been on a lot of my albums, I've been on a lot of his albums. I just wanted
to show the world that there comes a time when a man really has to express
himself totally without his counterpart. Hopefully, we can get together
and make some other things happen. He's on his own journey right now,
with him getting married and his double CD and he's got a new label. He's
working. Me and him don't bump heads and conversate as often. Me personally,
that's my boy, that's my comrade, and I'm hoping that the magic is still
there. Life changes things, people go their own routes and all that.
was your state of mind recording "AWOL?"
went crazy! Prior to me recording this album, I had an album called "The
Final Call" that hit the streets. They pushed the release date back,
and I was like "I can't do that to my fans." They were also
giving it out to press and the internet early. So I was like fine, that's
just to show that I'm working. That shit just drove me AWOL. In the military
times, it means "absence without official leave." So it's like
I'm here physically, but my mind is gone.
it frustrating to see "The Final Call" get out there without
necessarily, because I got love for the game at the end of the day. Some
want the fame, some want the fortune, and others do it for the love. The
love is there. When it got out there, it was good to let the people know
that I was working because I didn't have an album out since 2002 ("Aziatic"),
so it was good to let them know that A is in the lab. This one right here
is going to put the stamp on it.\
does it feel listening to "Life's a Bitch" in 2005?
We actually did that last night. Me and Clue headed out to enjoy the night
told me I was ahead of my time. I was doing things back then that are
just being appreciated now.
the Washington's still go to wifey?
Nah, she stepped it up! She's gets the Grants now!
was it recording that?
was just divine intervention. It wasn't premeditated. It was done by the
grace of Allah.
there still a chance of the AZ and Nas album going down?
not sure. Like I said, I hope the magic is still there. We've worked so
long and it didn't come into existence. And right now, everyone is focused
on building empires. At the end of the day, I hope so, but if not, I guess
it will be the end of a chapter.
back to "Doe or Die," that was a dope album. How do you feel
today listening to that?
was just raw and uncut. I just expressed my ideas, my anger, that was
a good emotional album. Do or die is how I felt coming into the game.
were signed to EMI for "Doe or Die," did everything go down
at that label the way you wanted it to?
the most part, yeah. That went damn near platinum, but I'm not really
the bragging type. I had the best marketing and promotion team, those
AZ stickers were everywhere. I appreciate everything EMI did, unfortunately
they had to shut down. I've been at other labels, but there were internal
differences going on. I've never been dropped from a label my entire life,
so I think that as an artist, I did well.
the most valuable lesson you've learned dealing with labels?
route baby! Hold your own, get creative, and get more of the prize, and
don't be a slave to the rhythm. You can get more accomplished building
your own empire.
you could change one thing from The Firm situation, what would it be?
man, that situation was a blessing. I don't really think I would change
it. There was a lot of cooks in the kitchen at the time we were doing
what we were doing. But we got to meet each other and politic, and everyone
could branch out and do their own thing. Everybody is still in their own
thing. There were just too many cooks in the kitchen.
at your last album, "Aziatic," did that do everything that you
wanted it to do when you put it out?
at all. The set-up wasn't right, the marketing and promotions wasn't right,
but that album is ahead of it's years. That's another one of my goodies
was it like working with Half-a-Mil?
brought him to the table. He was a Brooklyn Knight. He was an extension
of myself in a sense. He had knowledge of self, he was from the projects,
our upbringing is similar. Rest in peace to him. He's on this album too.
I'm also putting out a Half-a-Mil album, because he has 30-40 songs that
that be over new beats or exactly how they were recorded?
new beats, a couple of guest appearances, things of that nature.
can you tell people about Half-a-Mil?
had love for the game. He literally had love for the game. He wanted to
be legendary and go down in history for being a lyricist.
up with your imprint Quiet Money?
the label I'm signed to, Koch is distributing the album. I'm trying to
take it to a Def Jam and build it up like a G-Unit, Roc-a-Fella, on that
other artists are you working with on Quiet Money?
got a few. My man Animal is still there. Trav, he's been on my last two
albums, he's incarcerated right now but he'll be home soon. My man El
Shaber, he's incarcerated but he'll be home soon. Times is hard. There's
also my man Young God. And I'm still searching for talent. In a minute,
we're getting ready to get into this ballgame.
are you trying to do with film after "Envy" comes out?
"Envy" comes out, whatever vibe I get from the fans will tell
me which way I'm going to go.
do you like better, doing the movie thing or music?
is my first love. The movie thing is cool. I'm really not an actor, but
like I said, if I get love for it, I'll do it again. But I'm not pressing.
have you grown since you came into the game?
more focused, I have a son, I have a business, and I'm just growing. I
see things from different angles right now.
is it that's allowed you to last so long in a game that most people can't
"Illmatic," I had a life, and that life was in Brooklyn. There
were so many experiences I had, and I just carry them all with me. I have
five more albums in me.
next for you after "AWOL" drops?
"AWOL," we're trying to get some other artists out under Quiet
Money and jutst keep Quiet Money growing. And just keep on growing and
allowed you to stay motivated throughout your whole career?
love of the game. The struggle.
always had the respect, but we've never seen you heavy on the mixtape
circuit. Is there a reason for that?
try to be a part of that and be in the game, but I also try to keep myself
away from the game. I'm zero-tolerance, and you're dealing with a lot
of knuckle-head shit, and certain things can escalate. But it is a game
and it is part of the game, so I've decided to play the game. Right now,
I'm on damn-near every mixtape. But before, that was my mystique, on the
low like James Bond.
it better for you now to be more accessible to everybody?
but not too accessible because then it won't mean much.
always stuck to your formula throughout your career, was that the right
just try to keep it authentic and keep it true to myself, and represent
what I represent.
Life just had a song out saying too many NYC rappers are dick-riding the
South, how do you feel about that statement?
his personal thought, and at times when you look at it, it seems like
it's like that, but a lot of people like to ride the bandwagon and they
don't like to go against the grain. I like to go against the grain personally.
That's me. But a lot of brothers aren't built like me, so they'll go with
the grain and just try to obtain the things they need to obtain and stay
above water. But I'm a survivor, I go against the grain, and I'm rebellious.
At the end of the day, when you stay down, you've got to come up, so I
will prevail because I'm staying true to what I do.
advice can you offer to up-and-coming artists?
you're certified, you love it, and really feel it, you should really be
a part of it. But if you're just doing it for the paper and all that,
it's a good business at the end of the day, but some businesses fold,
some businesses don't meet the quota
so if you're really not feeling
it and putting your all into it, then get out of the game and leave it
a typical day like for AZ?
just chilling, taking it easy. Any day above ground is a good day! I'm
doing the movie thing, the relaxation thing, just taking it easy.
What do you want to say to all your fans?
all the hardcore AZ fans, this is for y'all. And I feel good because I
stayed true to myself throughout the whole game and I'm still down, I'm
still maintaining. So this is for my hardcore fans that really love AZ
and always knew he could hold it down to the fullest extent. And while
everyone was going this route and that route, he still stayed in his same