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AZ Biography

AZ Biography

AZ, or SOSA, or the God, was born Anthony Cruz to an African-American mother and a Dominican father. He now resides in Englewood,New Jersey with his six children. AZ first came to prominence by appearing on Nas' landmark album Illmatic on the song "Life's a Bitch" (1994)—he was the only guest emcee to appear on that critically acclaimed album. After a bidding war, AZ signed with EMI, and soon released Doe Or Die (1995) to more critical acclaim than commercial sales. The album's lead single, "Sugar Hill" (featuring Miss Jones), became AZ's only major commercial success as a solo artist, reaching the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and achieving Gold status. AZ's EMI contract was transferred to sister label Noo Trybe Records/Virgin Records when the EMI Label Group was shut down.

AZ's fan base grew considerably after he joined The Firm, a supergroup comprised of AZ, Nas, Foxy Brown, and Nature, with Dr. Dre and The Trackmasters producing. The Firm's only album, The Album, was regarded as critically disappointing. Pieces of a Man, AZ's second solo release, didn't sell well. Independently, AZ released S.O.S.A. to little fanfare in 2000. Soon, however, AZ signed with Motown//Universal Records and released 9 Lives, which returned his name to popular consciousness among hip-hop critics but still did little to bolster his sales.

In 2002, he released Aziatic. A single from the album, "The Essence," was nominated for the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The video to its first single, "I'm Back," received moderate MTV2 play. Over the course of these years, AZ and Nas (who had appeared on each others' albums several times apart from The Firm album) gradually stopped doing tracks together. Aziatic is regarded as AZ's comeback album, with restoring his crebility after his previous disappointing efforts. The album showcased AZ's refined lyrical ability on songs such as "Hands in the Air" and "Paradise," and his unmatched story-telling in "Fanmail."

AZ was supposed to release an album titled Final Call, around late 2004 or early 2005. Due to massive bootlegging, however, the album was never released. Instead, A.W.O.L. was released on September 6, 2005. This album featured many tracks that were on the unreleased Final Call, as well as some new ones—the first single was the DJ Premier-produced "The Come Up," and it became a moderately popular single.

AZ's 6th solo album, , was released on November 7, 2006. Four tracks from the album were leaked or released as singles: "Royal Salute," a response to a dis in 50 Cent's track "What If"; "Rise & Fall (feat. Little Brother)"; "Animal," "The Format" (produced by DJ Premier), and "The Truth" (produced by Lil' Fame of M.O.P.).

Since The Format, AZ has released a Remixtape titled The Memphis Sessions and a J-Love mixtape titled Return fo the S.O.S.A.

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