Friday, November 24, 2006

The Format

As a young eighteen-year-old 1995 was a year of self-discovery and first time experiences, my first time in employment I was paid £3.30 an hour working for a chain of well known fast food restaurants, after two months of blood, sweat and tears my pay cheque finally arrived and with that in hand I went out an bought my first stereo hi fi system (a Technics midi hifi which by the way is still in perfect working order, god bless Japanese technology) which subsequently led me to buying my first ever album AZ’s Doe or Die an album laced with gems such as the track entitled ‘rather unique’ produced by none other than Pete Rock, and there was also sugar hill which sampled the song ‘sugar free’ by juicy. Sugar hill fast became a hip-hop anthem earning AZ his first; some would say only major taste of success as a solo artist.

Over the last decade or so this understated veteran of hip-hop has quietly been churning out reasonably decent albums like 9 Lives, Aziatic and A.W.O.L to name a few and this month sees him release yet another consecutive album The Format, in the realm of the hip-hop fraternity this album makes for a welcome change from all the monotonous dribble that has saturated the current market, with he’s high toned voice, poetic lyrics and intelligent style of rap AZ lays down the blueprint to his longevity a reoccurring theme that resonates throughout the album. On the track entitled the format we see him team up with DJ Premier arguably one of the best DJ/producers in the industry who laces him with a heavy electronic beat that sounds like it could have been used in Miami vice or knight rider. The album also features guest appearances from M.O.P. on "Sit 'Em Back Slow" a heavy hitting track to bump your head to. Underground group Little Brother make an appearance on "Rise & Fall" definitely one of my favourite tracks from the album.

On ‘Royal salute’ he takes time out to address the current bully of rap 50 cent, in response to a diss record released earlier this year. Unlike many rappers who would retaliate in a storm of macho bravado AZ scolds 50 in a matter of fact kind of way like an older brother putting him in place with heavy punch lines like “ You a fan so overall respect my hand, cause I can see what’s going on I respect your scam and when we ghost you can bet who’ll be felt the most.”

AZ has yet again delivered a great album however with all the media hype surrounding Jay Z’s return from a short retirement and Nas’s soon to be released long over due album, I fear to say that this album will probably be slept on by the mainstream.

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