Timing is either salvation or sin. Salvation in a sense that apparent sin can be forgiven; sin in a sense that apparent salvation cannot. N.4.L. (KOCH) the latest mixtape from MC veteran AZ is a direct sign of the latter. It features some solid rhymes and occasionally has production that gets your head nodding. However, due to its timing, its flaws, or sins simply take this mixtape down where AZ isnt truly familiar; the fringe of critical failure.
As the Introduction slides into your ears, you’re given hope that much of the subject matter would be taken on with the depth it truly deserves. Knowledge Freedom takes the baton from Introduction and runs with it. Negro Spiritual and Ni*** Games follow along the same vein, while Heaven & Hell provides rays of light.
Rays of light, however, are only visible when skies are overcast. The majority of the rest of this tape is your standard mixtape filler. This failure is embodied in Originals, where rhymes of coke deals not only avoid the overall theme of race relations and introspection, but are poorly executed at that. The well executed, are personified in The Teks on Deck. While it sounds good, the track fits nowhere on the disc.
N.4.L., for all of its successes and failures, breaks the cardinal rule of Hip-Hop. AZ swagger jacks a well documented and published theme, but brings nothing new to the already aforementioned topic. The shadow of big brother Nas Untitled looms heavy here. Fans of AZ who havent heard Untitled may find some enjoyment from N4L, but for the rest of us, we have already been spoiled.
“The Teks On Deck”
“The Ni*** Games”