The Wire - p.76
"'Envious' is a power struggle between Bounty Killer's profundo and a piano that'll pawn you dentures for AZ's production budget."
Vibe - p.168
"AZ remains a top-notch lyricist, even without breaking a sweat."
Personnel: AZ; Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, J Hen.
Despite a knack for well-written street narratives packed with poetic and potent lyrical observations, skills approaching those of his one-time mentor Nas, and a precise delivery akin to the master Rakim, AZ has rarely caught the ear of as wide an audience as he deserves. In 2005's AWOL, the Brooklyn MC's fifth record, AZ is at the top of his game; after forcefully reintroducing himself on "So Sincere," he expertly unfolds a eulogy for a fallen friend, complete with unique and unforgettable hook, on the sadly stirring "Never Change." Arresting tracks such as the simple throwback "New York," the hip-hop history-citing "Still Alive," and the DJ Premier-produced "The Come Up" bolster AZ's best album to date.