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AZ A.W.O.L.

On his new album, Brooklyn native AZ sounds as fresh as he did in ‘94 on "Life's A Bitch" (from Nas' classic Illmatic) but, 11 years after his debut on wax, he attacks the mic with much acquired wisdom. This is especially evident when he hooks up with DJ Premier on "The Come Up," in which his poignant recollections sound so right over Premo's soulful boom-bap. While the rest of production is usually up to par, the highlight of this album is AZ's eloquent and oft-reflective street level lyricism. As he says on "City of Gods," "I could never just sell you raps-this is my life laid on wax." And he ain't lying.

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