Anthony Cruz a.k.a. AZ “The Vizualizer” dropped the critically acclaimed album Doe or Die in 1995. Since spitting his first verse on Nas’ “Lifes’ A Bitch” from the classic Illmatic, AZ has been heralded as one of the best rappers to ever pick up a microphone. Since then, he has dropped material that Hip Hop aficionados have held up as the standard for emceeing. 2015 marks the 20th Anniversary since dropping Doe or Die, an event was held in New York acknowledging the achievement where fans got to meet AZ and meet with each other to discuss the album’s significance. The Source recently sat down with AZ to talk about what the anniversary means to him and what he is currently doing in the game.
What does the 20th anniversary of Doe or Die mean to you?
I accomplished what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a plan making the album. The anniversary represents for those who want to legendary and is an inspiration for those who want longevity in the game.
Doe or Die has been a critically acclaimed album. Can you talk about your mind state at that time making the album?
I didn’t give a fuck about music. Rapping was cool, but the gangsters was in at that time. I had 1 leg in and 1 leg out of the streets. So rapping was a whatever thing. I didn’t really give a fuck. It wasn’t like a dream of mine. It was a passion. Rapping helped get to a calm mind state and helped me escape.
How was the event that took place in New York about a month ago celebrating the 20th anniversary of Doe or Die?
The event was great. The anniversary was not only for Doe or Die, but also for the Million Man March. I still have the same type of love and passion. It’s a blessing to still be honored and admired.
You were recently on tour in Europe celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Doe or Die. How was the tour and the fan reaction to you performing over there?
It’s always love in or out of the state and overseas. It might be more love, extreme love. It’s probably because they don’t see artists from the states often. So seeing an artist in the flesh is a rare experience for them.
Nowadays, artists proclaim their independence but you have been doing music independently for a long time now. Can you talk about how the independent lane has been treating you?
It’s been challenging and its been a great experience. In the past, being signed was always a great thing. The upfront money, promotion, and everything else that came with it. These days its easier to be independent with technology and the worldwide access to everything.
Are there plans to do a domestic tour and tour other parts of the world in celebration of the 20th anniversary?
We are setting up shows now for 2016. I should start touring around March or April.
Duck Down recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. What was that era like in terms of competition for the best albums?
Def Jam dominated the game at the time. I respect their legendary status. They were top of the food chain.
Besides the 20th anniversary of Doe or Die, what has AZ been up to?
I have been independent since 2005. Technology advances every year. I just started my own online store Quiet Money Direct and it’s direct to consumer. It’s been up since the anniversary. I have been touring, working, keeping my eye on the target.
Anything new with Quiet Money Records and any last words for fans or anyone checking for AZ?
I have a few artists, but I want to set myself up right. If everything goes well with the store, they will be brought to the forefront. Right now, the focus is Doe or Die II.
Doe or Die II is coming out in 2016. I’m looking to be around for another 20 years. Look out for the book, Jewels, Gems and Treasures.