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Rap sequels are rarely good, nor or cover albums (In The Beginning…There Was Rap, anyone?), but sometimes artists feel the need to do these types of things to remind their audience of their classics. AZ never really fell off – despite Doe Or Die being his strongest release – he’s continued to release solid indie albums via his Quiet Money imprint. His latest, Doe Or Die: 15th Anniversary Edition, is a little bit of both – half sequel, half cover LP, and it surprisingly succeeds in a concise ten track collection.

AZ doesn’t sound like he’s aged terribly or lost his way – in fact, he sounds almost exactly as he did fifteen years ago. In fact, some of the new songs, like “Nothing Move” and “Tribute (Intro)” conjure up memories of the champagne-glasses-and-Rollies-in-the-sky era that he helped usher in with “Sugar Hill”. Others show the more raw aspects of his style, such as the brooding “I’m Ill” or the grimey feel of “The Calm”, backed by Statik Selektah.

Surprisingly, the classics are done complete justice, thanks to producers Statik Selektah and Lil’ Fame of M.O.P. More than just remixes, both “Your World Don’t Stop” and “Gimmie Yours” are given lush new backdrops by Statik Selektah, as AZ floats atop the beats like it was ’95 again. Fame kills “Rather Unique”, trading the original’s somber Layers jazzy backdrop for a raw, bluesy guitar loop giving the song a whole new feel, with the Kane sample still in tact.

A tight package, AZ’s new album satisfies thanks to it’s short length and remarkable consistency. The only downfall here is that the album has a bit of an identity crisis, leaving cats wondering why songs like “Ho Happy Jackie”, “Sugar Hill”, or the rest of the timeless ’95 classics weren’t covered. Considering the new material is equally as strong as the remakes, it hardly hurts anything. In fact, mixing in some new material might have actually been the wisest move, as this LP completely will have cats checking for Anthony Cruz again.

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