AZ Shares The Stories Behind 15 Of His Best Verses


Brooklyn-bred rapper AZ is considered one of the greatest yet most under-appreciated lyricists to ever bless the mic. Widely known as the one who stole the show on Nas’ “Life A Bitch,” Sosa has had his fair share of hits throughout the 1990s. He’s been in this game for years and it shows in memorable tracks such as “Sugar Hill,” “The Format” and “Desperados.” What’s more, his chart-topping debut, Doe Or Die, established him as a well-respected MC in his own right. Now, AZ is preparing to release Doe Or Die II, with hip-hop heads on the edge of their seats waiting for it. But first, he’s whetting our appetites with the second installment of his Last Of A Dying Breed series, which dropped Tuesday.

“That mixtape, it’s not too many freestyles, but it’s records that I know a lot of people overlooked,” he says. “I wanted to pick songs off all my albums that I know that was overlooked but was great. And let the audience really grasp it and [be like], ‘Oh shit, now I get it.’”

With another incredible run on the horizon, AZ sat down with XXL to share the thought processes behind 15 of the top verses from his career. He talked about rhyming from the perspective of a young kid trying to come up out of the projects, and also touched on his relationship with Nas and building up the anticipation of his new album with “Movin’ On.” Read on to hear some classic stories straight from the rap legend himself.—Imani McIntyre & Eric Diep (@E_Diep)

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Ian Piepenbrock

    How are they not even briefly mentioning Canibus’ verse on Desperados? Damn. AZ one of my favourites though.

  • rozenswag

    You had me thinking Life’s a Bitch wasn’t going to make the list. Got me clicking through all 15 though. Well played.


    we movin is that classic az

  • HP

    Before i check Life’s a Bitch or Affirmative Action are number one right?

  • Luke

    “Out of thirty men/ know twenty thats worthy men/ ten is friends/ the other ten’ll probably turn me in” >>>Thats what of my favorite most memorable lines from him. Life’s a bitch is his greatest verse for obvious reasons but seriously AZ has so many great great verses that I dont even know where to start. I just gives props to XXL for even doing this interview I enjoyed hearing all those classic joints again.

    • Luke