AZ And Buckwild Discuss Creating ‘Truth Be Told’ And Their Legendary Status In Hip Hop

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Regarding the greatest MCs ever, AZ deserves his flowers as one of the best. Unquestionably, the Grammy-nominated Brooklyn native is the self-proclaimed “most underrated but appreciated rapper” whose career spans almost three decades.

AZ emerged on the scene with one the greatest debut verses of all time on “Life’s a B*tch” from Nas’ classic album, Illmatic. With one unforgettable verse, AZ created enough buzz that got him signed with EMI and he released his debut album, Doe or Die, in 1995, which is regarded as one of the landmark LPs of the 90s. The album featured the Top 25 Billboard 100 hit “Sugar Hill” and eventually went platinum.

Alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, Cormega, and Nature, he formed the supergroup The F.I.R.M., who released their only eponymous album in 1997, which also went platinum. Through the ebbs and flows of the ever-changing music industry, AZ has released over 10 albums, a slew of mixtapes, and collaborative projects.

Hailing from the Bronx, Anthony “Buckwild” Best is one of the essential architects of the 90s boom-bap sound. He came to prominence as a member of Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.) along with Lord Finesse, Showbiz and A.G., Diamond D, Fat Joe, O.C., and the late Big L.

Buckwild went on to be one of the most well-respected producers crafting classics such as The Notorious B.I.G.'s "I Got a Story to Tell," Black Rob's "Whoa!", Faith Evans’ “I Love You”, and many more.

On Dec. 1, AZ released Truth Be Told entirely produced by Buckwild. Garnering critical acclaim, the album features appearances by Mumu Fresh, Pharoe Monch, and Fat Joe.

In an exclusive interview, BET.com spoke with AZ and Buckwild about creating the LP, building their chemistry for almost 30 years, and their status as icons in hip-hop.

BET.com: When do you first meet Buckwild?

AZ: I met him when I was working on Doe Or Die. At that time, the only producer I knew was Pete Rock but I heard about a lot of producers from being in a studio with Nas when he was making Illmatic. I heard a couple of producers and then my manager at the time said, “This cat Buckwild has a couple of joints.” He played me a track that became “Hoe Happy Jackie,” that made the album. It was like a movie to me when he put it together. Since then, Buck has been on a couple of my albums. He was on Aziatic and produced the single “I’m Back” and on AWOL. We’ve kept a good rapport.

Buckwild: Time has flown!

BET.com: It’s been almost 30 years since the release of Doe or Die when you first worked together. When did you decide that the timing was right to do an entire project together?

AZ: Around 2018, he gave me a joint called “Save the People” with Raekwon and Prodigy, which was crazy and I was like, “Wow, this is a good vibe right here.”Buck always comes through with some great music and we decided to hop in the lab and see what could happen. He was on Doe or Die 2 on the joint with Dave East too. We started locking in and doing records and it led up to this a year later.

Buckwild: I believe we have good chemistry because of AZ’s talent and drive. He is always seeking perfection and he's constantly on me. That’s how it is with most artists from the 90s. A lot of artists don't they don't have that. I'm that way when it comes to producing records. So I'm looking to win and he's looking to win.

BET.com: In your entire discography, Truth Be Told may be one of your most personal projects. You addressed going through label changes on your sophomore album, Pieces of a Man. Also, you spoke about dealing with the deaths of Tupac and Biggie, who were your peers. What made you reveal so much about yourself on this project?

AZ: I titled the album Truth Be Told because I wanted to bare my soul and vent. Nobody knew my story because that’s just how I move. I’m more of an “in the shadows” type of cat. That’s just how I was raised. But in music, it’s about expressing yourself through your art so I said to myself, “Let me put my legacy out right now.” They’ll know it’s my story now it’s documented.

BET.com: Both of you are highly regarded as a rapper and producer. Over the years, your skills have become as sharp as ever, and you continue to make great music. How does it feel to be considered a legend in hip-hop?

AZ: I'm in awe because I never thought I was that good. I had to perfect my skill, my poetry, my flow, and all my idols that influenced me, I just always wanted to make them proud. To see that I'm now on that level, I feel grateful that I've made it there and my goal is to keep it there and even try to take it higher. That's why I'm still doing it. It's a beautiful thing. I’m humbled.

BET.com: Do you sometimes feel underrated or underappreciated?

Buckwild: One thing that always kept me going is “What's next?” Sometimes I don’t get mentioned when it comes to the best producers. But when I look at it, I'm like, “Yo, you have all these records that still play from 1994. Rap and R&B records. I transcended different genres of music and I love it. Starting from one of my first records O.C. 's “Time's Up” which I just cleared a sample for some kids who appreciate those records. A lot of producers don't have that.

BET.com: How do you want this music to speak to all generations of fans of rap music?

AZ: Simple plan to be told, just tell you the truth. That's all I was doing on this particular project. I was telling my truth. There was no real schematics behind it. Just speak your truth. That’s what I want new listeners to grab from the album

Buckwild: AZ is getting better as he gets older. He’s rapping like he never rapped before. His concepts and everything are there. And for me, it's dope to have someone who can narrate as great as he’s doing. I have known him since 1995 and we've been tight forever. I look to him when he's telling this truth and I want the world to know his truth. Because he’s a remarkable artist and he deserves this platform. I feel like if you’re talking about Jay Z, Nas, or any of the great ones that are out right now, you have to put AZ up there.






 
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