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AZ (rapper)

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
AZ in 1998
AZ in 1998
Background information
Birth nameAnthony Cruz
Also known as
  • AZ the Visualiza
  • Sosa
  • The Rap James Bond
Born (1972-03-09) March 9, 1972 (age 52)
New York City, U.S.
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
Years active1993–present
Member ofThe Firm

Anthony Cruz (born March 9, 1972), better known by his stage name AZ, is an American rapper. He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is famous for being a long-time and frequent rhyme partner of Nas. He is also a member of the hip hop group The Firm with Nas, Foxy Brown, Cormega and Nature.

In a countdown of the 10 Most Underappreciated Rappers—Most Underrated Rappers of All Time, the editors of About.com listed AZ as number one on the list.[1] He was as well featured on About.com's list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007). That was where he was identified as "arguably the most underrated lyricist ever."[2]

Early life

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AZ was born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.[3] He is of African American and Dominican descent. He grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, with his mother and sister.[3][4]

AZ began writing rap lyrics when he was 12 years old.[4] He attended Eli Whitney High School with fellow Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z until the vocational school closed down in the late 1980s.[5]

In the early 1990s, he became friends with Queens rapper Nas.[3]

AZ appeared on Nas' album Illmatic in 1994. After AZ signed with EMI, he released his first album, Doe or Die (1995). The album's lead single, "Sugar Hill", became AZ's major commercial success as a solo artist. It reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the RIAA.

In 1997, AZ joined the hip hop group The Firm with Nas, Nature and Foxy Brown. They released their only album as a group, The Album.

In 1998, AZ released his second solo album, Pieces of a Man.

After Pieces of a Man was released, AZ signed with Motown and Universal Records. He released the album 9 Lives.[6] In 2002, he released the album Aziatic. A single from the album, "The Essence" (featuring Nas), was nominated at the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.[6]


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Studio albums

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Compilation albums

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  • The Memphis Sessions: The Remix-Tape (2007)
  • N.4.L. (Niggaz 4 Life) (Hosted by DJ Absolut) (2008)
  • G.O.D. (Gold, Oil & Diamonds) (2009)
  • L.O.D.B (Last of a Dying Breed) (Hosted by AZ and DJ Mr. FX) (2013)
  • L.O.D.B II (Last of a Dying Breed) (Hosted by AZ and DJ Mr. FX) (2013)
  • Legacy (Hosted by DJ Doo Wop) (2019)
Year Song Chart positions RIAA certifications[7] Album
U.S. U.S. R&B U.S. Rap
1995 "Sugar Hill" (featuring Miss Jones) 25 12 3 Doe or Die
"Gimme Yours" (featuring Nas) 115 51 30
1996 "Doe or Die" 69 24
1997 "Hey AZ" (featuring SWV) 50 non-album single
"Firm Biz" (with Nas and Foxy Brown featuring Dawn Robinson) The Firm: The Album
"Phone Tap" (with Nas and Nature featuring Dr. Dre)
1998 "What's the Deal" (featuring Kenny Greene) Pieces of a Man
2001 "Problems" 90 34 9 Lives
"Everything's Everything" (featuring Joe)
"I'm Back" (featuring Daddy Rose) 63 Aziatic
2002 "Take It Off"
2005 "The Come Up" A.W.O.L.
2007 "The Format" The Format
2008 "Undeniable" Undeniable
2010 "Feel My Pain" Doe or Die: 15th Anniversary
2013 "We Movin'" non-album single
2014 "Red Magic"
2015 "Back to Myself" (featuring Soshy)
2017 "Save Them" (featuring Raekwon and Prodigy)
2019 "It's Time"
2020 "Found My Niche" Doe or Die II
2021 "The Wheel" (featuring Jaheim)
"Motorola Era" (featuring 2 Chainz)


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  1. Adaso, Henry (June 3, 2010). "10 Most Underrated Rappers". About.com:Rap/Hip-Hop. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  2. "Top 50 MCs of Our Time: 1987 - 2007 - 50 Greatest Emcees of Our Time". Rap.about.com. January 26, 2012. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Anthony Cruz: Jewels, Gems & Treasures. Quiet Money Publishing, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 #20YrsLtr: Doe or Die (2016)
  5. "Rapper AZ Says He Battled Jay-Z In High School". June 14, 2013. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  6. 6.0 6.1 allmusic Biography
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Gold and Platinum - AZ". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2010-12-01.