Today, March 9, is the 46th birthday of Brooklyn rapper AZ.

Widely considered one of the most underrated MC's in the game is Brooklyn-born Anthony Cruz, better known as AZ. AZ is a member of the New York hip-hop group The Firm and longtime collaborator of famed Queens' lyricist, Nas. Fans first noticed AZ's skills when he was featured on Nas' 1994 album Illmatic as a featured rapper on the song "Life's A Bitch."

On the song "Life's A Bitch," AZ managed to stand out alongside Nas, which was no easy feat. His verse stands out immediately: "Visualizin' the realism of life in actuality/Fuck who's the baddest, a person's status depends on salary/And my mentality is money-orientated/I'm destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it."

His debut album, 1995's Doe or Die, birthed AZ's most successful single, "Sugarhill." The Miss Jones-assisted "Sugarhill" reached No. 25 on the year's Billboard Hot 100. Though he was never able to match the commercial success of "Sugarhill," AZ continued to make music, dropping eight albums to date and collaborating with Statik Selektah, Styles P and Wu-Tang Clan. AZ was working on his ninth studio album, Do or Die 2, as of 2012. He also appeared on Ghostface Killah's album 36 Seasons, which released in 2014.

The next year, 2015, saw AZ becoming an author with the release of his book Jewels, Gems and Treasures. In 2016, he put out a documentary with BET, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Doe Or Die.

Happy Birthday, AZ!

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