AZ (US rapper)

~ Person

Legal name: Anthony Cruz (US rapper, aka AZ)


Anthony Cruz (born March 9, 1972), better known by his stage name AZ, is an American rapper. Born in Brooklyn, NY. He is known for being a longtime and frequent rhyme partner of Nas, and also a member of hip-hop group The Firm alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, Cormega and Nature. In a countdown of the 10 Most Underappreciated Rappers—Most Underrated Rappers of All Time, the editors of listed AZ as #1 on the list. He was also included on's list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007), where he was described as "arguably the most underrated lyricist ever."

AZ first became known by appearing on Nas' landmark 1994 album Illmatic on the song "Life's a Bitch", as well as featuring vocals on the opening track The Genesis. AZ signed with EMI, and soon released his debut album Doe Or Die in 1995 to critical acclaim, but meager commercial success. The album's lead single, "Sugar Hill", became AZ's only major commercial success as a solo artist, reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and achieving Gold status. AZ's EMI contract was transferred to sister label Noo Trybe/Virgin Records when the EMI Label Group was shut down.

In 1997, he and Nas appeared in a Sprite commercial. Also in 1997 the group The Firm with AZ, Nas, Nature, and Foxy Brown released their only album as a group, The Album. The album featured production from well known producers such as Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters and generated much hype. The group disbanded after just this one album. In 1998 he released his second solo album, Pieces of a Man. The album fared well but did not chart quite as well as his debut and did not feature a crossover single like "Sugar Hill". The same year AZ made a cameo appearance in the movie "Belly" starring Nas, DMX, and Method Man.

After this album's release, AZ signed with Motown/Universal Records and released 9 Lives. In 2002, he released Aziatic. A single from the album, "The Essence," (featuring Nas) was nominated for the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. In 2004 AZ was planning on releasing his would-be 4th studio album, Final Call, however, it was eventually scrapped due to heavy leaking and released as Final Call (The Lost Tapes) in 2008. He released his 5th and 6th studio albums A.W.O.L. and The Format in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

In 2015 AZ teams up with Melbourne (Australian) producer Phil Gektor for A.W.O.L 2. Not much information has been given, but is the sequel to 2005's A.W.O.L. It is unclear as to whether this was commercialised through regular channels, but was advertised via the Hip Hop Collective "Crate Cartel". This album is available via the Crate Cartel bandcamp page.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1995 Doe or Die AZ 2
1998 Pieces of a Man AZ 1
2001 9 Lives AZ 1
2002 Aziatic AZ 1
2005 A.W.O.L. AZ 2
2006 The Format AZ 1
2008 Undeniable AZ 1
2009 Legendary AZ 1
2009 G.O.D. (Gold, Oil & Diamonds) AZ 1
2015 A.W.O.L 2.0 AZ & Phil Gektor 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2004 Decade: 1994-2004 AZ 1
2008 Anthology: B-Sides & Unreleased AZ 1

Album + Mixtape/Street

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2013 L.O.D.B. (Last of a Dying Breed) AZ & DJ Mr.Fx 1

Album + Remix

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2007 Memphis Sessions: The Remixtape AZ 1


Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1995 Gimme Yours AZ 1
1997 Hey AZ AZ feat. SWV 1
2003 Feel Good / The Essence AZ 1
2013 86' (remix) Raekwon feat. AZ & Altrina Renee 1


Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1999 Organized Rhymes, Volume 2 O.C. / King Tee / AZ 1

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