AZ The Format

AZ The Format
Twelve years after he appeared on Nas’ Illmatic album, AZ still can’t seem to escape the ominous shadow that appearance has cast on his career. Now on his sixth album, AZ’s fortunes seem less likely to change than ever and this middling effort is not helping his chances. While there’s some heat here generated by opening track "I’m The Truth” and DJ Premier’s contribution to the title track, AZ is let down by mediocre production that actually detracts attention from his intricately nimble flow. Casting himself as a knowledgeable everyman, AZ presents a thematic balance, approaching his subject matter with equal measures of bravado, insight and vulnerability — the latter quality appearing on the sobering standout "Rise and Fall” with Little Brother. It’s a shame this type of consistency isn’t mirrored throughout because when he is blessed with music that doesn’t subscribe to stale chipmunk soul motifs, AZ proves himself as one of the few veteran MCs that seems to approach the mic with the same vigour he had when he first started. (Koch)