Rapper AZ has teamed with DJ Absolut to release a controversial new mixtape titled N.4.L. (N***az 4 Life.).
In addition to songs such as "Knowledge Freedom," "Runaway Slave," "Conspiracy," "Negro Spiritual," and "Self Savior," the mixtape features images of the past, which include a black and white picture of civil rights protestors being violently hosed by firemen on the cover.
N.4.L. also references historical lynchings and makes analogies to todays rappers by featuring an illustration of AZ hanging on a noose on the inside jacket.
AZ is quick to point out a difference between his album N.4.L. and that of his rhyming partner Nas whos upcoming album is untitled, but was formely titled N***er.
I'm not doing N.4.L. to be in Nas' shadow," AZ told AllHipHop.com. I was inspired by the message behind the movement. I'm just adding to the concept because the message is so powerful. It's about our culture and our people. He and I are cut from the same cloth, so I understood where he would have gone with it if the forces hadn't intervened."
The controversial title ignited discussion among rap fans as well as those at Nas label Def Jam, who later persuaded the rapper to change the title of the release, which is scheduled to hit stores on Tuesday (July 15).
"The title N.4.L. has a dual meaning for me. The first suggests that no matter what you achieve in life, as a black man, even if you become President Of The United States, in someone's eyes, you'll always be looked at as a 'n***a for life,'" the rapper said as he revealed how title pinpoints a gap between generations in regard to the use of the n-word. "I'm from the '80s era and our experiences with the 'n' word are different. Growing up, 'n***a' was just our way of communicating and acknowledging each other. You might roll up on someone and say what's up my n***a. Depending on who is saying it, you may not be offended. Although I understood what my mom and grandparents felt about the word, it's not the experience of our generation."
As for whether the mixtape and Nas' untitled album will result in a collaboration between the two lyricists, AZ confessed that both offerings serve a purpose in bringing both artists views to the forefront.
"The closest thing to us rhyming together for now is the N.4.L. mixtape," AZ shared. "You'll get him burning the candle from one end, [and me] burning the candle from the other end, [and] at the end of the day we gotta meet up in the middle. What you didn't get from Nas, you can get from AZ."
AZs N.4.L. mixtape is slated to be released on Aug. 5.