The full AZ interview is up now. You can catch this cut on my May Mixtape.
The latest single “Save Them” features a snippet of a speech by Louis Farrakhan. Why was it important for you to take a clip from the Minister and place it in this song?
Farrakhan is the voice of the hood. He’s a voice of the world. He’s for our people and he’s been there since the beginning. So at the end of the day, he has that powerful speech that was needed to reach the people. When you hear his voice, you will fall back and you’ll take notice and listen. And that’s what I was trying to get across to get the ears of the youth. When I was putting this record together, a lot of my peers and fans were like, ‘Yo, you got to save us!” And I use to be like, ‘Save you from what?’ and they would say, ‘The music now has no substance. We need substance. Save us.” So that’s where I got the title from.
Why was it an important decision to add Raekwon and Prodigy on this album?
They’re swords are sharp lyrically. And we all love lyrics. We wanted to bring that to the table. So me knowing that their discography contains nothing but that and they specialize in that.
Here’s a snippet of an interview AZ did over at Billboard, which includes his Buckwild-produced new cut with Raekwon and Prodigy…
It’s wild that this is the 20th anniversary of The Firm. What was that whole experience like working with Dr. Dre and being on Aftermath?
I mean you got to understand, we all were popping before that, so dealing with Dre, I was appreciative and I could respect it, but at the same time, the family thing was better. We all could connect and had love, especially me and Nas, and [Foxy Brown] was doing her thing. So to come together and do a project — it was a blessing. Of course Dre was going through his transition at the time too. He represented that West Coast so crazy. I just wanted to really get some of that Dr. Dre music, and that “Phone Tap” really set it off.
That crew solidified two strong MCs. It put a blueprint together. What do you think The Firm brought to the game?
We brought something together that some people probably have never thought of. As of now, a lot of powerhouses come together, even in R&B. I think we set that off. Usually, groups came in the game [already together]. It never was people coming together individually. We were the first ones to get together after having our own lane.
Are you still collaborating with a lot of people from the era?
Yeah, [my new single] “Save Them.” The sound was shifting. A lot of brothers in the street were [telling me], “You got to save us.” And I’m like, “Save y’all from what?” So I took that title to save the people, then [producer] Buckwild played a joint in the studio called “Save Them,” and I was like, “This is it.” I just wanted to bring some brothers who I know respect the craft. Raekwon — that’s my brother from day one, and Prodigy [of Mobb Deep] is from that era as well. I just wanted to put something together that I know that audience will appreciate. Even the shorties will say, “Oh that’s what this about,” and they will gravitate towards it. So that’s the goal: We want to save the people and save them from themselves.