A.Z.: “Street Wise”

January 23, 2008 – 7:03 pm

AZ - Street WiseThis marks the first out-of-print commercial release posted here on Normal Bias, and it’s a pretty rare one, as far as I can tell. It’s a solo album by AZ, but not the AZ you’re thinking of. This is the 80s Harlem gangster Azie Faison who also recorded with the group Mobbstyle. AZ and two other Harlem compatriots, Alpo and Rich Porter, were portrayed in the 2002 movie Paid in Full and a documentary titled Game Over. I won’t go too much into the back story here, but it is pretty interesting stuff, so read up.

While this record is more interesting from a historical perspective than anything else, there are still some standout tracks worth checking. And there’s something about the dark, low-budget nature of this tape that gives it a feeling of gritty realness that you’re not going to find in any so-called gangster rap of today.

A few tracks worth mentioning:

  • “What’s Going On Black?” has vocal samples from Chuck D and… is that Phil Collins?
  • “Last Days” is a bizarre, yet engrossing, 7-minute posse-cut epic about the coming apocalypse with one emcee that sounds a lot like Ced-Gee. This track has perhaps the most confusing anti-gay message ever recorded:

    Man on top of man, I can’t understand,
    Me, myself, I’m not a fan.
    Throw ’em all in the garbage can, ’cause they trash,
    Who like it in the ass.
    To each his own, you choose who you wanna bone,
    God bless the child that have his own.

  • “Gangster Shit” was a minor hit, and with good reason. Featuring a guest shot by Pretty Tone Capone rhyming over the same loop that the Kings of Swing used on “Nod Ya Head To This.”

“Street Wise” was released on Espionage Records, which was located at 470 Lenox Ave, now home to the Lenox Terrace Podiatry Group.

AZ: “Street Wise”
Espionage Records, 1991 (est.)

Track listing:

  1. Street Wise
  2. What’s Going On Black?
  3. Last Days
  4. I Rock
  5. What Does It All Mean
  6. Another Contract
  7. Gangster Shit (Re-Mix)
  8. Don’t Dis Nobody
  9. (The D.L.)
  10. To Be Continued…
  11. I Rock Again

Download (92 meg)

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  1. 17 Responses to “A.Z.: “Street Wise””

  2. whats up, i just found a bunch of these cassettes of a.z. i always thought it az nas’s boy. . i never knew it was the n.y. kingpin . . is it ok to use your review on my ebay listing? let me know, hit me on aim, peace . oh the thursday night live post is really nice, 1

    By tony d on Jan 30, 2008

  3. Thx for putting that tape up i been looking forever – really appreciate it.


    By C on Feb 26, 2008

  4. the link is not working.

    Is it possible to get a re-up ?

    By anu on Mar 14, 2008

  5. i love tony. d for sellin me the 2 az tapes on espionage and the 1 on sugar hill.

    By martin on Mar 16, 2008

  6. keep your eyes open for the mobstyle blackbox !!!

    By martin on Mar 16, 2008

  7. Anu — it’s working and still there. Be sure to click on “request download ticket.”

    By admin on Mar 17, 2008

  8. I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to upload this! Thanks!!!

    By E The Kid on Jul 18, 2008

  9. thank you I greatly appreciate this. crazy rare , I’m always wondering if that was “live and let die” by mobstyle that bishop(2pac) and Q was bumpin on the radio during a walking scene in Juice. good lookin out

    By shine95 on Nov 1, 2008

  10. I don’t know I double checked watching Juice, my bad I think I’m thinking boyz in the hood where them gangsters roll up in a red hyundai bumpin that same beat that mobstyle used for “live and let die”. got my movies crossed.

    By shine95 on Nov 2, 2008

  11. i need gangsta shit part 1 and 2

    By beast on Dec 28, 2008

  12. yo tony d, do you think u can hook me up with a street wise cassette? man i lost my tape man and this is a classic i lived in harlem and i knew how shit was back then.

    By nyce on Jan 30, 2009

  13. Thanks for this.
    I always appreciate cats taking the time to rip cassettes. Thanks again.

    By verge on Jul 2, 2009

  14. Is there any chance that you have the original version of gangster shit like the great Tony D. posted? RIP

    By impalas on Jan 23, 2010

  15. I do not… sorry…

    By laze on Feb 3, 2010

  16. I need that 126 Silence!!! Oh my Goodness!!!!!

    By The B on Sep 11, 2011

  17. Jus bought this on cassette for 10 bucks plus 10 shippin, one of my faves, didnt really get a good deal but i dont care its a 20 bill for a peice of history. righteous.

    By GTrenton on Sep 15, 2011

  18. Thanks for sharing, your time and efforts are highly appreciated.

    By Guest on Apr 16, 2015

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