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There have been very few rappers in history who have managed to catapult themselves into a 30 plus year recording career based off just one guest verse. But that’s exactly what AZ did when he stepped up to the mic to rap on “Life’s a Bitch.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the dexterous spitter was making his way around the city with the reputation of a fearsome MC when he linked up with an up-and-coming Nas. After making a huge impact with the sole guest verse on Illmatic, AZ entered a bidding war before eventually signing with EMI Records.

Since then, he’s been a staple of East Coast hip hop and often the face of lyricism with his brilliant wordplay, butter smooth delivery and timeless flow. He’s also been a feature killer over the past few decades, popping up on tracks with legends like Wu-Tang, Kool G Rap and of course, Nas, as well as younger MC like Logic and Stove God Cooks to flex his lyrical prowess.

From his verse on Kool G Rap’s “Holla Back” to Nas’ “Affirmative Action” and “Life’s a Bitch,” here are the top 10 best AZ guest verses of all time.

10. Ghostface Killah & Inspectah Deck ft. AZ – “Harbor Masters”

Released: June 30, 2009

Album: Chamber Music

Producer: Lil’ Fame, Noah Rubin, Andrew Kelley & The Revelations

Stand like the Eiffel, move spiteful
Sport the Nike shoe, nice with the mic since high school
Fuck who like who, fend to not, ni**as, trifeful
Plot cycles, to get dough, it's so delightful
Criminal IQ's, spiral convo's with the sky view
This is what I do, pioneer, my peeps Power Rule
Fuck Yacub, I'm factual, true and living
Polo polobos with the true religion, no superstition
This beat is sort of proof to listen, and hear the real
So you New Jack ni**as kneel, sit it still
Lick a fifth, get your piff and chill, fix your grill
It's ill, seen the game vanish in air
From DeLores to the glamourest gear, show and prove
How I move, you know hammers is near, never fool
Appear rude, though my manners is there, get it straight
Say my grace, before stuffing my face

9. Nas ft. The Firm – “Full Circle”

Released: August 21, 2020

Album: King’s Disease

Producer: Hit-Boy & G. Ry

Dialogue superb, flyest cars on the curb, word
When I evolved, a higher God emerged reserved
More subtle, come from the stress and the struggle
Young then, obsessed in the bubble about it
Took advantage if a woman allowed it
One of the foulest, some would say I was childish, money-driven
Mischievous, I perceived it as livin', gifts and ribbons
Any kisses on the lips was forbidden, I was on it
She curvy, then shorty was cornered, no worries
For the naughty, it was higher performance, or was it really?
The games that I was playin' was silly
Similar to them days when I was packin' that milly, it could've killed me
Caution never crossin' my mind, she callin' cryin'
Me, I'm more concerned why she ain't fallin' in line, was buggin'
Grew a lot since they said I was stubborn
Guess it's real, even players need lovin'
When you enamored by female companions, there's no standards
Once you hit and it switch the dynamics, that's the damage
Reflectin' on first impressions, what's she expectin'?
Why when men don't follow directions, it's deception?

8. Westside Gunn ft. Stove God Cooks & AZ – “99 Avirex”

Released: September 24, 2021

Album: Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Side B

Producer: DJ Green Lantern

Young, Black and belligerent back in them tenements
Backtrackin' my innocence, crack was the genesis
G-packs and Guinnesses, macks on the premises
All I envision is stacks when I reminisce
In the mix is mood swings, you do things
Chasin' cheddar, better lace your shoe strings
Few scheme, others hate, in other states
Your circle wrong, cases form another shape
Off the blake and set aside, look what arrived
Mobb Deep presence with my mother eyes, I come alive
Undenied is GOAT status, the most dappest
From old habits, I wrote classics, so graphic
Lost Phil, they killed Will, Paul dead
Trav did a twelve in the feds with my coke head
Low-res, picture blurry, peep the obituary
To fuck the world, you gotta switch it from missionary

7. Cormega ft. AZ – “Redemption”

Released: May 25, 2004

Album: Legal Hustle

Producer: Emile Haynie

Thinkin of a masterplan me and my man
Hand to hand on the grind since a half a gram
Understand even then you couldn't pass me hand
Was on the land all geared up in Dapper Dan
Around the year of them classic jams
I done seen ni**as get bitch slapped and ran
Word to yam a few got rich and swam
While I was sunk with they G packs trying to pump
It's over, no closure cars gave ni**as exposure
I was carried by Allah on his shoulders
Sober my first AR in the hood
Would of stuck a muhfuckin Brinks truck if I could
Understood I was strong headed
But them streets and them guns gave me the wrong fetish
Cool whatever, I'm here we can do whatever
From the cars to clothes to the jewels whatever
Why worry? I'll rest when I'm dead and buried
So for now I'mma dress, get head and be merry

6. Nas ft. AZ – “The Flyest”

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: L.E.S. & Staff

Follow, I'm like a Lamborghini green Diablo
Coupe VT, it's like DVD when I flow
Feel me, I'm loved like the great late Malik Sealy
The one the playa haters hate dearly, but can't near me
Homicide can't scare me
I o-bide by the laws of these streets sincerely, a real ni**a
The type that can build with ya
Verbalize, bring life to a still picture, it's God-given
Been blessed with Allah's vision, strength and beauty
Truly my only duty is to dodge prison
Play with me, I'm modest 'til them strays hit me
Regardless the circumstances I'ma stay filthy
Dough forever, the live stay low forever
And fuck ni**as 'cause it's hard to keep them close together
One dependent, no wife, one co-defendant
No forms of weakness, I flow with vengeance

5. Logic ft. AZ – “Carnival”

Released: June 17, 2022

Album: Vinyl Days

Producer: PoST & 6ix

What makes an MC? Let's raise this entry
For me, once embraced, left states in a frenzy
Face his envy with the grace of Pimp C
It's never complicated, the basics been me
From straight with ten G's to racin' Bentleys
School from the jump to lacin' gently
Convince me, who cooler out in Aruba?
Blowin' ounces of Buddha, I know the routes, the maneuver, pursuer
Let's speak about it, I keep a stylist
From eatin' phallus to fornicatin' at Caesar's palace
Balance both feet on the concrete
Calm and meek, though that heat is in my arm reach
From Palms Beach to the pretty sands in the Turks
Fifty grand disperse, never plan for the worst
Let me work, haha, I wrote it just how I quote it
It's hopeless tryin' to decode it, I'm Moses now for the moment

4. Kool G Rap ft. Nawz & AZ – “Holla Back”

Released: November 26, 2002

Album: The Giancana Story

Producer: Buckwild

From hideous acts on the one gettin' rid of the gats
A ni**a back, no parole, now how pretty is that?
The city is trapped, bottles popped, Phillies is cracked
Ni**as is strapped, half bent, illin', spillin' they 'gnac
Cars tinted, my rap image too large to mimmick
We mob in it, fake ni**as dissolve in minutes
It's codes to it, real killers they know music
Even hoes on the low at the shows lose it
Courvoisier-sippin', this slim ni**a stay flippin'
My ways different, duck when the AK spittin'
It's more to it, verbal wisely, all fluent
In real life this is how the dogs do it
Double-edged sword, rep for y'all seein' the board
See y'all home soon, it's better than seein' the morgue
So what's the conflict, who wanna Don with this?
For the streets strictly we got the bombest shit

3. Cormega ft. AZ, Redman & Styles P – “MARS (The Dream Team)”

Released: July 22, 2014

Album: Mega Philosophy

Producer: Large Professor

Gray's anatomy, amazed with duality
I inhale to propel through polarities
Rap reality, trapper, actor or athlete
Choose carefully, use vernacular accurately
None after me, none before, it's factually
I'm the core conquistador of the faculty
Bastard seed, black fatigues
Prestigious since Ellesses from the master's league
Master's weed, placed on a mantle with the Jack Daniels
Ruger strap with the wooden shellac handle
Tap the sample approve, cop and bounce
Never announce financial, losers stop to count
Lost but found was both in the same breath
The Sos' remain fresh, every dose came correct
To gain respect, hoodie on for the gone
So fuck the fake cop that shot little Trayvon

2. Nas ft. AZ, Foxy Brown & Cormega – “Affirmative Action”

Released: July 2, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: Trackmasters

Yo, sit back, relax, catch your contact, sip your con-gi-ac
And let's all wash this money through this laundromat
Sneak attack, the new cats in rap worth top dollar
In fact, touch mines and I'll react like a Rottweiler
Who could relate? We play for high stakes at gunpoint
Catch 'em and break
Undress 'em, tie 'em with tape — no escape
The Corleone, fettuccine Capone
Roam in your own zone
Or get kidnapped and clapped in your dome
We got it sewn, The Firm art of war is unknown
Lower your tone, face it, homicide cases get thrown
Aristocrats, politickin' daily wit' diplomats
See, me, I'm an official mack, Lex Coupe triple black

1. Nas ft. AZ – “Life’s a Bitch”

Released: April 19, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: L.E.S.

Visualizin' the realism of life in actuality
Fuck who's the baddest, a person's status depends on salary
And my mentality is money-orientated
I'm destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it
'Cause yeah, we were beginners in the hood as Five Percenters
But somethin' must've got in us, 'cause all of us turned to sinners
Now some restin' in peace and some are sittin' in San Quentin
Others, such as myself, are tryin' to carry on tradition
Keepin' this Schweppervescent street ghetto essence inside us
'Cause it provides us with the proper insight to guide us
Even though we know, somehow we all gotta go
But as long as we leavin' thievin'
We'll be leavin' with some kind of dough
So, until that day we expire and turn to vapors
Me and my capers will be somewhere stackin' plenty papers
Keepin' it real, packin' steel, gettin' high
'Cause life's a bitch and then you die
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