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On this date in 1972, AZ was born Antonio Cruz in Brooklyn, New York. AZ is regarded as one of the most prolific emcees of the 90s, even though his entrance into the game came from just one verse on Nas’ “Life’s A Bitch” from the epic Illmatic album.

That one verse led to an album deal with EMI Records, who released his critically acclaimed Do Or Die album in 1995. He was later chosen as one of the four emcees that would eventually form The Firm, a legendary four-person crew that included Nas, Foxy Brown, Nature and AZ, but Nature’s position was originally filled by Queensbridge’s Cormega. The Firm’s solitary album, which was produced entirely by Dr. Dre, is recognized as one of Hip Hop’s most coveted albums because of its East Coast/West Coast combination during the height of the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry. AZ went on to put out eight more solo albums, with Do Or Die 2 expected later this year.

Happy 48th Born day to AZ from The Source Magazine, wishing him many more in the future!