AZ, a Brooklyn veteran who came to prominence after debuting on the 1994 song “Life’s A Bitch” with Nas, feels pleased about the influence he had on Eminem.
The widely recognised lyrical rapper sat down with Math Hoffa to talk about his career and the state of affairs in the music industry when a host asked him what AZ felt when he heard that Eminem studied your rhyming patterns.
AZ didn’t go into details but acknowledged that it was flattering. He also pointed out that it happened long ago when his style was not yet defined completely.
I thought that was fly because he’s looked at it at a certain stature. Studying my shit when my shit was still in development form… Wow, that’s fly.
For Eminem, though, the story might be slightly different. Some critics and even Em’s mates thought that his debut album “Infinite” showed strong influences from AZ. D12’s member Kuniva told in an interview in 2015 that Marshall sounded like AZ:
To me, that’s what he sounded like, at first. That was the pinnacle of him being polite and cool. Em was really a straight up cool cat, but the frustration came out when he started getting the criticism about the Infinite shit, like, “It’s kind of soft. You sound like this person/that person”.
That was a pivotal moment in Em’s career, and he decided to flip the script and let out his alter ego, Slim Shady. Eminem rapped about it later on “Guts Over Fear” with Sia:
Had to change my style, they said I’m way too soft
And I sound like AZ and Nas, out came the claws
And the fangs been out since then
But up until the instant that I went against it
It was ingrained in me
That I wouldn’t amount to a shit stain, I thought
No wonder I had to unlearn everything my brain was taught
So, it seems that whatever Eminem learned from studying AZ’s rhyme patterns, he had to unlearn to pave his own road to success.
Watch the video below: