https://open.spotify.com/track/5vxII6AxXbPsAJE5dAdBo9

Released: 1995

In “Rather Unique,” hip-hop icon AZ crafts a lyrical self-portrait that encapsulates his individuality, resilience, and lyrical prowess. The track is a profound exploration of his life experiences, identity, and worldview, deftly interwoven with incisive social commentary and an homage to his East New York roots.

“Shout out my nigga AZ / East New-York” opens the song, laying down the turf that shaped AZ’s life and artistry. The reference to “mulignanes”, an offensive Italian-American slang term for African Americans, is a comment on racial stereotyping. When AZ mentions being “more fucked up with a mayor named Giuliani,” he’s critiquing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s policies, often seen as contributing to increased racial tension and social inequality.

The rather philosophical line, “You can try to blind me, analyze but can’t define me / My mind’s divine, heavily entwined with Gandhi’s”, serves to express AZ’s enlightened mental state. He compares his mindset to that of Mahatma Gandhi, showcasing his wisdom and perspective. His self-awareness shines through when he says, “how can I be weak? I’m rather unique”, cementing his individuality and resilience.

AZ Rather Unique

The turn of phrase, “my deepest emotions / Overdosing wannabes posing”, reflects AZ’s contempt for fake personas in the industry. Moreover, his comparison of himself to author Donald Goines, known for his gritty urban tales, underscores AZ’s focus on authenticity and real-life experiences.

“My verbals rip shit, brains give birth to thoughts in triplets” signifies his masterful lyricism, delivering multi-layered insights with an intense rhythm, while “Child, got a style sick as hell, sicker than sickle cell anemia” uses the metaphor of sickle cell anemia, a severe illness that disproportionately affects African Americans, to describe his sick (impressive) rap style.

Among the standout lines, “Autobiography follows the footsteps of Malcolm X / Money and sex, Gore-Tex, Donna Karan and Guess” depicts AZ’s life journey, alluding to the influential civil rights figure, consumerism, and aspirations of success.

AZ finishes the song by reinforcing his distinct personality and skill, reinforcing, “Why I’m rather unique.” He affirms his singular approach to hip-hop, his unorthodox worldview, and his commitment to stark honesty. “Rather Unique” stands as a testament to AZ’s unique position in the hip-hop panorama – an artist relentlessly authentic and perceptive, delivering verses imbued with social commentary, personal introspection, and unparalleled lyrical finesse.