5/06/2017 10:26:00 PM

AZ the Visualiza 'Next' in Vibe, 1995

AZ the Visualiza 'Next' in Vibe, 1995

Back again with another 'Next' feature in Vibe, this one from November 1995 and featuring AZ (The Visualiza). By this time, AZ had already released his classic, life-changing verse on 'Life's A Bitch' off Nas' classic, 'Illmatic.' Off the strength of that, the Brooklyn-born MC was signed to EMI in a bidding war and released his debut album, 'Doe or Die,' on October 10, 1995. Speaking from his perspective at the time, AZ shares: “I just gather my thoughts and let my mind drift, ‘cause overall, all we got is memories and dreams… Thinking about my peoples that I lost in the world — and those that’s incarcerated — helps me feel like I gotta carry on the dream for those who never made it.” Those thoughts were a reflection of his original bars on 'Life's a Bitch,' and a mindstate that resonated with fans then ... and now. I sat with 'Doe or Die' for a long time, and remixes by Erick Sermon, the RZA, and Buckwild that weren't included on the album make it all the more official. And, let's not forget that 'Rather Unique' may be one of the best B-Sides to a lead single ('Sugar Hill') ... ever. AZ's sophisticated bars and unique voice set the tone for an album that is now part of Hip-Hop history, especially to those of us who came up in New York in '94-96. Underrated for 20+.