Legendary lyricist AZ hit up the great white north in December 2011, ending off the year with a bang at St. Catherines’ Red Hot Chilli Pepper. The New York rap veteran performed fan favourites off his classic 1994 album Doe or Die, as well as tracks off the Firm’s 1997 release The Album. SOSA also previewed some new tracks off this year’s forthcoming release, Doe or Die II. If you missed the show, check out our concert footage and review, below.
Some background: Anyone who’s had a “Top 5″ discussion with me knows how highly I regard AZ – as one of rap’s most underrated players, I wasn’t expecting to see Sosa north of the border anytime soon despite word of his upcoming release, Doe or Die II. That is, until I heard that the Visualiza was headlining the bill for a show in St. Catherines alongside opening acts SESE and UNION GANG. I’ve never been to a show in St Kitt’s before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Shouts to TriLateral for putting on a crazy show!
Fast forward to showtime: By the time AZ took the stage well after midnight, the basement of the Red Hot Chilli Pepper was packed with old-school Hip-Hop heads of every age, gender, and ethnicity. The rap vet opened the show with a classic call-and-response. “Say Hip….Hop….!” he yelled to a frenzied audience, promptly responding to the call-to-arms with an enthusiastic “HIIIIIIP…. HOPPPPP!” AZ wasted no time getting right into it with fan favourite “Rather Unique”, inciting yet another eager call-and-response among the crowd. Next up was “Gimme Yours”, followed by snippets of hit tracks like “Shook Ones” and “NY State of Mind”.
When the twang of the strings from “Affirmative Action” began trickling through the speakers, the audience broke into a wild sea of arms bumping to the beat. Gunshots erupted at the end of the track, bringing the audience into the sobered austerity of “Mo Money, Mo Murder”. AZ rapped over Esco’s verses with the help of the crowd, recounting one of the greatest stories ever told in rap’s archives. ”See, me, I’m just as foul as ya, but you ain’t got no style in ya,” spat the 90s era Sosa, summing up his steeze with a line harder than blow.
It was no surprise when the crowd (including this reporter) began wylin’ out as “Life’s A Bitch” dropped. “Yeah, life’s a bitch and then you die, but never get high on your own supply” advised the rapper jokingly before breaking into his verse from “The Flyest”. Next up was “AZ’s Chillin”, followed by “Sugar Hill”, igniting the crowd yet again into another feverish singalong.
In summation, it’s been eighteen years since his album debut and AZ’s still got it. From the way he carries himself on stage to the way his rolling cadence punctuates every line, the Visualiza allowed fans a brief glimpse into his world. All I gotta say is, stay tuned for AZ’s upcoming album Doe Or Die II.