AZ Aziatic

AZ Aziatic
Ever since he delivered one stunning verse on Nas's Illmatic, the great expectations for Brooklyn rapper AZ have never quite materialised. After an underwhelming debut and a long hiatus, he resurfaced last year with 9 Lives, where he alienated anyone following his career with his materialist fantasies and failed to capture a new audience. The good news on Aziatic is that AZ has regained his lyrical focus. AZ has always had a great eye for detail, and the attention to writing his tightly woven lyrics is evident. The problem with Aziatic, however, lies with the music. The musical benchmarks are a little too easy to point out, as AZ tries his hand at emulating the '70s soul-infused sound of Jay-Z's The Blueprint, and he maximises the fringe benefit of being signed to Motown by raiding their back catalogue for sample sources. Elsewhere, "Hands In The Air" sounds eerily like the Neptunes, but that isn't Chad or Pharell on the beats. And to top it off, producer D.R. Period pulls off an Alchemist move by using the same Welcome Back Kotter-sampled track he supplied for Onyx's current single "Slam Harder." It's a shame the musical choices are so distracting, because AZ sounds better than he has in years, coming up with interesting concepts and oozing a love for the craft. But, unfortunately for him, his efforts are too easily lost in the mix. (Universal)