AZ: From Brooklyn to Hollywood

Known as one of the most influential artists to ever grace the mic, AZ takes a step back from music, and tries his hand at acting. “Envy” is his first leading role in a film outside of his cameo in "Belly." The cast of the movie includes Ray-J, Lisa Raye, and Maia Campbell. AllHipHip discussed the details of the film, but also deferred to the topic to music. AZ hustles, and prepares for the artform of music to return. So tell me how this “Envy” project came about?

AZ: Actually we shot the movie like 5 years ago. I was called to the set by the club owner, and when I got there they told me I had one of the leading roles…and I just ran with it. What’s the synopsis of the movie?

AZ: Well in the movie you got Ray-J (AJ in the movie) playing my little cousin following in my footsteps…I can curse and all that right? Just making sure…we recording? Yup!

AZ: Ok well I was a street dude doing all this bullshit

[Both laughing)]

AZ: My little cousin was following me, and as I got tired, I wanted to pass the game to him and all the guys that was with me through the whole struggle, they felt like it was there time to come up so why should I be passing it to him. That’s when the movie goes a little crazy. But when you in the streets it breeds jealousy and envy…so you know it’s a good hood movie. How easy or hard was it for you transitioning into acting mode?

AZ: It wasn’t hard because playing the part I was playing was kind of me just being me….just turning it up a little bit more that’s all. It was an easy transition so I don’t consider that totally acting…but give me more parts that’s fine! How was it working with the cast?

AZ: It was new for me. This was my first movie even though I did a little snippet in Belly which was cool. Having a leading role was cool because everybody on the set was already doing it like Ray J, Lisa Raye, and Maia Campbell so it was a smooth transition. Recently Maia Campbell has been struggling with addiction…have you reached out to her?

AZ: Back then I had a direct line but its year’s later .I do wish the best of luck for her. At the end of the day I don’t wish bad on nobody like that, she was a talented person, pretty young lady. Is there a soundtrack for this movie?

AZ: I’m not executive producer; if I was it would be a soundtrack. Nobody came to me and said nothing and I don’t hear no music….but no soundtrack. So any Hollywood Stars for you in the future?

AZ: If it happens I’m with it! I’m with it! Let’s talk music….you released “Legendary” early June of this year…..tell me about that project.

AZ: That was just a mixtape, as you can see I didn’t promote, no videos… was just a mixtape I put out. The last album that I put out was “Undeniable” in 08. Right now I’m working on Do or Die 2. Just that fact that I see all the sequels get a lot of love. Like Cuban Links Part 2, The Blueprint 3, and Carter 4. So I said let me add my sequel on and see where it takes me. The majority of people I know, and people period have you on their Top 5 dead or alive. How does that make you feel?

AZ: Oh that’s real talk. I appreciate it. I mean with the game being so saturated with so many things going on and so many sounds, I appreciate it. I’m definitely gonna keep on delivering, but I been delivering, so I'm not gonna let nobody down. Coming from an era when music had a real message and wasn’t being made just to pacify the masses, how do you feel about the state of the game right now?

AZ: It needs a facelift. With the downloads it became more of a hustle. Its not even an art form anymore. I understand because at the end of the day, society don’t leave us too many things and its kind of the easy way out if you can’t shoot a ball, or catch a ball. Like with anything else music has its ups and downs, but I feel the art form is coming back; its mandatory. How long do you think it will be until it gets back that way?

(Both laughing)

AZ: I know its working its way back, that’s all I can say. It will take a while, a couple for years 3, 4 maybe. Everything is 360; it’s just the science of life , so I know its coming back because of that fact. Any advice for newcomers to this game on longevity?

AZ: Stay true to yourself, try not to follow the fads, and keep your sword sharp. Keep your head and the business on point, and you’re looking at longevity. What’s next for you?

AZ: Right now I’m working on the Doe or Die 2, getting the label off the ground, and I’m working with a few artists. With this movie hopefully I get a few knocks at my door from Hollywood and turn it up! Its all a hustle, so I’m gonna keep moving and do what I do.