Az Izz of legendary New Jersey crew The Outsidaz makes a long overdue return to the heat of battle with the release of his new album “Dopeliss”.
Born in Guyana, South America, the rapper and producer moved to New Jersey in his early teens where the sounds of Heavy D, KRS-One and LL Cool J formed the mindset and ultimate artistic path.
Swapping the turntables for the microphone, in 1995 he joined The Outsidaz which included in their extensive numbers Pace Won, Rah Digga, D.U. and the late Slang Ton. With medals long earned locally, the group came to wider prominence through their guest appearance on fellow Garden State natives “The Fugees” multi platinum selling album “The Score”.
The group also collaborated on several early projects with a new fast rising crew from Detroit at the time, D12. This fact is acknowledged by Eminem in his multiple shout outs for the group throughout his breakthrough “The Slim Shady” LP.
With the pursuit of solo careers in full flow, notably Rah Digga’s move to Flipmode Squad and Pace Won’s work with producer Mr Green, Az Izz formed his own development imprint Green Team using his own experience to help nurture new upcoming producers and rappers.
Continuing his dual role on the boards and with the mic, he collaborated with a diverse array of artists including Sublime with Rome, Ray J and Trey Songz while providing soundtracks for tv, film and sports including The Fox News network and NCAA. The father of an autistic son, he has also raised awareness and better understanding through his own Autism Foundation.
His return to the hip hop fold began in 2012 with the release of his first solo album “Born in Sin, Shaped in Iniquity” and more recently in 2018 with “Sir Aubrey King”. In June 2019 he appeared as a guest on DJ Eclipse’s Rap is Outta Control Show on Shade 45 alongside MC Whiteowl and Yahzeed where he discussed the earliest days of The Outsidaz.
The full circle was completed in 2020 with the signing to New Dawn Records for the release of the new album “Dopeliss” which in itself reflects the roads travelled through the years.
Largely self produced, the styles span the decades and knit together like the fabric of hip hop itself.
Opener “Let Me Get That” is a recently uncovered rare gem from the backroom vaults featuring Outsidaz sparring partners Pace Won, D.U. and the late Slang Ton. The album in itself acts as a historic mapping of the evolving east coast sound through the ages. From the classic boom bap of “You Know” speed dialled forward to the hybrid EDM of “Gunz n Dice Games” and everything in between, it’s a testament to the enduring qualities of all the genre’s forms how easily they stand shoulder to shoulder on the same tracklist.
The guest producers stir the pot further. Essex County’s 3rdRell adds some electro Caribbean ingredients on “Trouble” while Newark’s Qua Z Mo lights the touch paper on the fuel injected banger “Nunya”.
Lyrically it’s the traditional art of storytelling, street life, aspirations and struggles. A full platter that still leaves a little room for a traditional rap beef, in this case a historic tussle with Royce da 5’9” on “Gettin It”.
The gloves are back on, welcome back to the ring
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