Anthony Cruz (bka AZ) was born and bred in the New York borough of Brooklyn. Since his debut album Doe Or Die in 1995, he’s released a total of eight albums and become synonymous with the boom bap movement that flourished in New York during the mid-‘90s.
AZ’s appearance on Nas’s classic album Illmatic marked the beginning of his career for many. Through a visit at the studio sessions for Illmatic, the rapper wrote the hook for the album’s staple cut “Life’s a Bitch.” The street buzz from that track led to AZ signing with EMI for the release of Doe or Die. The single “Sugar Hill” was a crossover hit, peaking at #25 on the Billboard Chart and #3 on the Rap Charts.
Two years after his debut, he teamed up with Nas, Foxy Brown, Nature, and Cormega to form The Firm. The collective released their self-titled album to commercial success with a #1 debut on the Billboard chart. The release of AZ’s sophomore solo effort Pieces of a Man was met with less commercial success, yet just as much critical acclaim and paved the way for a catalog that would show the rapper’s growth over the years. His subsequent albums 9 Lives, Aziatic, A.W.O.L., The Format, Undeniable, and Legendary have solidified AZ as one of hip-hop’s premiere veterans.
In 2017, he released a song with Raekwon and the late Prodigy called “Save Me. The rapper plans to release Doe Or Die 2 at the end of 2017, calling it the last album of his career.