Released: 2006

Features: DJ Premier

“The Format” by AZ is a testament to authenticity, resilience, and triumph over adversity. It’s a gritty narrative about overcoming trials, rising to the top and staying true to one’s craft and roots. AZ conjures vivid imagery around his past struggles, spiritual influences, his mastery of lyricism and his refusal to compromise his art.

In the opening bars, AZ sets the tone with the line “you know the chronicles, the shit that if mama knew” pointing to a stark reality of street life, hidden from the eyes of loved ones. The line “the TECs phenomenal, Rapid fire, it pecks through the abdominal” unveils the dark menace of gun violence that’s prevalent in his life’s landscape. In contrast, AZ then refers to himself as the “honorable”, emphasizing a moral compass even in chaos.

Coming through with a touch of humor, AZ refers to showing restraint from temptation as being “drained from both nuts”, a clever play on the double-meaning of ‘nuts’. Then, asserting his intellectual prowess and spiritual grounding, he says “verbalize through the scriptures, I was Biblically born”. This suggests his lyrics possess divine precision and depth.

AZ The Format

AZ showcases his versatile lifestyle with lines like “On Kawasaki’s can wheelie up on one tire”, demonstrating his thrill-seeking side, and “jail connected” reflecting his connections in the underworld. The line “very few flaws, heavy Chevy two-doors” shows him embracing a luxurious lifestyle, but also hints of a raw street essence that hasn’t been forgotten.

At the flipping end, with the repetition of “The format is real sickening, contagious” AZ is emphasizing his lyrical prowess and the power of his storytelling style. He’s confident his ‘format’ – the blend of streetwise wisdom and eloquent lyricism – is captivating and influential. Despite the life he’s lived and the changes he’s seen, he insists – “I took some change and I’m still the same”, reassuring listeners that at heart, his essence remains steadfast and authentic.

Ultimately, “The Format” is a lyrical autobiography of AZ’s journey from the decidedly rugged streets, through trials and temptations, to his place as a respected figure in hip-hop who’s maintained an artistic integrity. He’s come a full circle, or as AZ puts it – “Done did the 360, the cypher’s closed”. So sit tight and bump this track, ’cause it’s AZ in his truest form, delivering classic gems in an unstinting flow like only he can.