Doe or Die - (Import CD)


R 219

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  1. Performer
  2. R&B
  3. East Coast Rap
Mono / Stereo
Doe or Die [PA]

Personnel: AZ, NAS, Amar, Missjones (vocals); Erica Scott (background vocals).
Producers: Lunatic Minds, AZ (tracks 1, 9); LOOSE (track 2); Pete Rock (tracks 3, 5); Buckwild (track 4); Amar (tracks 6, 11); L.E.S. (track 7); D/R Period (track 8); N.O. Joe (track 10); Spunk Biggs (track 12).
Engineers: Jack Hersca (tracks 1, 6, 9); Joe Pirrera (tracks 2, 11); Jamie Staub (tracks 3, 5); Jason Vogel, John Kogan (track 4); Jason Vogel (track 7); John Gamble (track 8); Robert "Void" Caprio (track 10); Jamie Staub, John Chervokas (track 12).
Recorded at Chung King Studios, Greene Street Studios, Electric Lady Studios, Platinum Island and Battery Studios, New York.
All songs written by AZ except "Sugar Hill" (AZ/U. Barnes/K. Barnes) and "Mo Money Mo Murder (Homicide)" (AZ/NAS). Samples include "Little Children" (as performed by Kool And The Gang), "Just Rhymin With Biz" (as performed by Big Daddy Kane), "Here We Go" (as performed by Minnie Riperton) and "Cry Together" (as performed by The O'Jays).
Though the music industry is flooded with rappers of all shapes, sizes and traits, only a handful are recognized for their lyrical skills. AZ establishes his ground among them with his debut DOE OR DIE, a follow-up to one well-recognized appearence on Nas' ILLMATIC ("Life's a bitch and then you die...").
DOE OR DIE is AZ's first step towards a lifestyle free from the society he was born into. "Sugar Hill" reveals his dreams of sipping champagne and living the good life, without being subject to the horrors of the urban streets. While his political beliefs constantly mingle with his message, AZ openly expresses the opinions of his community--most specifically on "We Can't Win." And on "Mo Money, Mo Murder (Homicide)," he's joined by his Queens-counterpart Nas for a double-dose of unique, metaphorical rhymes.
Musically, DOE OR DIE matches up to AZ's lyrical abilities, and when his vocals are laid over Pete Rock-produced tracks ("Rather Unique" and "Gimme Your's"), it is hip-hop at its best. With little room for another street-life representative preaching about money, women and clothes, rap does have the space for this East New York native's abstract concepts, on-going rhyming style and Master-Don attitude.
Personnel: Erica Scott (background vocals).
Audio Remixers: L.E.S.; Ski.
Recording information: Battery Studios, New York, NY; Chung King, New York, NY; Electric Lady Studios; Greene Street Studios, New York, NY; Platimun Island; Platinum Island.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Daniel Hastings Cartel; Miguel Rivera Cartel.
Arranger: N.O. Joe.
In 1995 it was easy to confuse comrades and collaborators Nas and AZ, so similar in style were their street-schooled lyrical concerns and their austere, lazy-eyed rhyming styles. AZ, in fact, first came to the attention of the rap scene by contributing a verse to the former's classic 1994 single "Life's a Bitch." To compound the resemblance, he called upon Pete Rock to produce a couple tracks ("Gimme Your's" and "Rather Unique," both stellar) on this introductory recording, just as Nas had on his classic debut. The two albums are very much the twin sides of the same double-headed coin. They are so closely connected, in fact, that it's difficult to pinpoint where Doe or Die's points of departure are located. Many of its character sketches (the Buckwild-produced "Ho Happy Jack"), urban-caked admonitions ("Mo Money Mo Murder," on which Nas, in fact, turns up to return the favor, the equally hard-hitting title track), and gritty expressions of love ("I Feel for You," a pumped-up "One Love") are every bit as meditative and literate, peppered with authentic, incisive documentary detail. Ultimately, AZ's album is not quite as compact and consistent, and, unlike its mirror-image, its focus lapses right toward the end. But while Doe or Die is not quite on an artistic par with, not quite the free-flowing masterpiece as, the landmark Illmatic, it is not at all far behind in terms of quality, either. Certainly it was one of the strongest, most promising debut efforts of 1995, and probably one of the year's strongest rap albums period. And as with Nas, he would have a difficult time following up on this early juggernaut. ~ Stanton Swihart

Country of Origin
EMI Music Distribution
Studio / Live
Songs / Tracks
  1. [ Disc 01 Track 01 ] Intro
  2. [ Disc 01 Track 02 ] Uncut Raw
  3. [ Disc 01 Track 03 ] Gimme Your's
  4. [ Disc 01 Track 04 ] Ho Happy Jackie
  5. [ Disc 01 Track 05 ] Rather Unique
  6. [ Disc 01 Track 06 ] I Feel For You
  7. [ Disc 01 Track 07 ] Sugar Hill
  8. [ Disc 01 Track 08 ] Mo Money, Mo Murder
  9. [ Disc 01 Track 09 ] Doe Or Die
  10. [ Disc 01 Track 10 ] We Can't Win
  11. [ Disc 01 Track 11 ] Your World Don't Stop
  12. [ Disc 01 Track 12 ] Sugar Hill - (Remix, remix)
  1. Az
  2. AZ (Rap)
EMI Music Distribution

Spin (12/95, pp.123-124) - 7 - Flawed Yet Worthy - "...AZ offers a grounded critique of the larger structures wreaking havoc upon the urban-dwelling body....DOE OR DIE achieves its purpose: AZ has breathed new air into the lungs of New York hard-rocks."
Rap Pages (12/95, p.28) - 7 (out of 10) - "...For every two words that your average Joe Blow rap star blurts, AZ claps off ten precise, sharp verbs that coagulate and blossom into vivid Technicolor dreams..."

46m 9s
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