When AZ talks lyricists should pipe down and listen. Why? Because a gross ton of knowledge is about to fall from the sky. He came from an era of integrity honoring the pen, respecting the culture and putting in the work plain and simple. He won’t ever be a superstar, but for those in the know he’s a legend with albums like Doe or Die finding regular rotation on the decks – a rare lyrical specimen.
Because of his place in rap AZ has the latitude to discuss the merits of lyricism without concern or fear of retribution. In an interview with forbezdvd.com, he was quoted as saying something to the effect that in modern rap it’s not about the lyrics anymore, that it’s more about the hustle – that rhymes have taken a backseat to the lifestyle. And he’s right, it’s clearly not about the lyrics anymore, and hasn’t been for a while.
To me, from the musical aspect, hip-hop is going in the direction where it’s like a hundred, or almost damn near 100 percent on everything besides the music. Like what you look like, to the sound of your name to what you’re wearing, the brand of clothing, whatever intoxicants you choose to put in your body, to, you know, everything expect for what the music sounds like.
And what is rap without the poetic verse, the music – the soul? It’s a minstrel show is what it is, some gaudy exhibition of excess where the loudest actor gets the most attention, not for what he or she does on the mic but the amount of press they accumulate while away from it. It breeds an environment that praises rap only when it’s reduced to the lowest common denominator. And that’s not trumping its place in history either – money, hustling and the lifestyle will always be there, but when it descends to the lows we’ve seen over the past few years it becomes something of a joke. A clear devolution of lyrical integrity. It’s happened all throughout history, and the causes can be traced back to everything from a sheer game of economics and what sells to a straight up racist portrayal of black urban culture.
AZ is right and so is Doom and thank the rap gods that there are a grip of other young, like-minded MCs who think the same.