Today in Hip Hop History: October 10, 1995
Brooklyn-based rapper AZ released his full length debut studio album, Do Or Die, through EMI Records in 1995. AZ is known for being a longtime friend and collaborator with Nas, and he became known on Illmatic‘s song “Life’s a Bitch” (to which we actually favored his verse over Nas’). He is also About.com’s #1 most underrated rapper of all time! Do Or Die featured production from Pete Rock, Buckwild, L.E.S., Loose, and others. It also featured vocals from Nas, Erica Scott, Miss Jones, and Amar Pep.
Do Or Die is often seen by many as the prototypical mafioso rap albums of the time, alongside Jay-Z‘s Reasonable Doubt and Raekwon‘s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Essentially AZ speaks much on the life of organized crime, adding a mobster’s accent and perspective to the lyricism. The album cover even portrays a funeral for the rapper, in which he is honored gracefully with stacks of cash in his casket.
The album peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. It received generally favorable critic reviews and moderate commercial success. The album sold over 1 million copies, making it RIAA Certified Platinum. AZ still has a sequel to his notable debut in the works to this day.