Rap Song of the Week breaks down the essential rap and hip-hop tracks released each week. Check out the full playlist here. This week, AZ teams up with Lil Wayne and Conway the Machine on a cut from his highly-anticipated album, Doe or Die II.
After more than a decade in the making, New York hip-hop royalty AZ has finally dropped Doe or Die II, the sequel to his mafioso rap classic debut. Lyrical exercises like “Ritual” ensure the album was well worth the wait, as The Firm member tag-teams with Lil Wayne and Conway the Machine over a grimy beat by The Alchemist to remind fans and fellow MCs alike that he’s been a force to be reckoned with since the mid ’90s.
Using an effortless multi-syllabic flow, AZ raps about not needing the spotlight to prove he’s been one of the best rappers over the past two decades. “They know me/ Since ’96, wrist was lit with a Rollie,” he spits. “Speak of bricks? Been in the mix, ain’t shit you can show me/ A king occasionally seen, stay in the wings.”
While AZ stayed in the shadows in recent years, Conway the Machine became one of the hottest MCs in the industry and helped put Buffalo on the map. On “Ritual,” the Griselda rapper rightfully takes credit for shaking up hip-hop: “My album kicked in the door, n****s thought was forever locked/ I woke them n****s up out they sleep.”
Meanwhile, Wayne continues his recent hot streak of guest features, spitting a litany of punchlines like “I might break my arm pattin’ my own self on the back/ Break the bank like I break the backboard, they call me Shaq,” solely for the sake of sport. At this point, Tunechi could easily rest on his laurels, but he clearly still enjoys rapping for the fun of it.
None of these MCs have anything to prove, but that’s what makes each one so great. Hearing them push each other on songs like “Ritual” is what hip-hop is all about.