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AZ
The Format

Despite always droppin’ intellectually charged street parables, AZ has yet to garner any significant commercial success. Long respected for the lyrical work he’s put in over the years, the hip-hop veteran continues on the independent grind with his sixth studio album, The Format. The layout is familiar—dense couplets and soulful soundbeds—this go round, which has its merits, but also plenty of liabilities. On the resounding opening track, “I Am the Truth,” AZ explains his mission to save the streets. Over regal horns and swelling strings, courtesy of M.O.P.’s Lil’ Fame, he spits, “Soul music, so intense, so live/It’s no excuses, y’all ...

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