Undeniable reinforces what many people feel about the Brooklyn-bred lyiricist AZ: He's one of the most underrated rappers in the game. Every verse he spits, each built on multisyllable rhyme schemes and expansive vocabulary, paints a picture. He's among a special breed of vintage emcees that's increasingly hard to find these days. For those of us who grew up on golden-era raps, AZ is something like an aging warrior.
Ever since his first steps in the rap world with his verse on "Life's a Bitch" ("Visualizing the realism of life and actuality/ Fuck who's the baddest a person's status depends on salary"), AZ has consistently provided his intelligent signature product. Following the footsteps of his recent albums, Aziatic (2002), A.W.O.L. (2005), and The Format (2006), Undeniable keeps a steady stream of poetic reflections and tales of street life.
The album kicks off with "The Game Don't Stop," an autobiographical head-nodder where AZ retraces his rise to the top. "Crack money and Moet made me crazy/ Strapped, hungry, with no vest they named me AZ/ Among the militants to insane to raise me/ But swayzy, some old-school pimps embraced me/ And built real between daffodils and daisies."
"Superstar" and "Life on the Line" are further depictions of life as a rap star and street hustler. On "Fire," AZ rides a soulful beat while referencing W.E.B. Dubois and giving humble life lessons. The standout is "Dead End," a beautifully sampled uplifting anthem. Some of the hooks fail to do justice to AZ's lyrics ("Undeniable," "Parking Lot Pimpin'," "A Game"), but "Go Getta," featuring a smooth-crooning Ray J, deserves to get some radio play.
But it won't. And that doesn't matter, because AZ will keep doing his thing and some of us will keep appreciating it. Some things will just never get old to us.