17 years ago, we heard one of the illest verses in hip hop from a then unknown MC from East New York named AZ on Nas’ debut “Illmatic.” And since that verse on “Life’s A Bitch” AZ’s name has been synonymous with dope hip hop. 2 years after “Illmatic” dropped AZ dropped his debut album “Doe or Die” to the world and with bangers like “Gimme Yours”, “Hoe Happy Jackie”, “Mo Money, Mo Murder” w/Nas, “Rather Unique” and “Sugar Hill” cats were more then happy with the release. Now 15 years later AZ is set to drop the 15th anniversary version of “Doe or Die”, but my question is why?
To be honest, I really don’t get the concept of this album. To basically redo your own album with new beats but with the same rhymes doesn’t really make sense to me. The songs I liked on the original release like “Gimme Yours”, “Rather Unique” and “Your World Don’t Stop” can’t be remade…they just can’t! As much as I love Statik Seletah’s work on “Gimme Yours” and “Your World Don’t Stop” and ‘Lil Fame’s work on “Rather Unique” they can’t touch the originals. And that’s no knock to Statik and Fame but if you’re dealing with classic songs that have been aged into hip hop history. Why touch them? Usually when you remix a song, you remix it within 2-3 months of the original song dropping, not 15 years! Now the new songs AZ added to the mix “Tribute”, “Nothing Move”, “I’m Ill” and “The Calm” is that crack music we’ve come to expect from East New York’s finest. But my fav song on the album is the hidden track (I never understood hidden tracks) “Make Believe” which is about a cat who can’t make up his mind who he wants to be in the game.
At the end of the day, it would’ve made more sense to use all of these beats towards a new AZ album, and not a “do over” album. AZ lyrically hasn’t lost a step since we first heard him spit and beat wise, cats come correct but listening to this album just makes me wanna pull out the original “Doe or Die” album. Like my man Avon Barksdale once said “are you talking about a do over baby? That’s not how the game is played” and I agree 100%!
3.5 outta 5