AZ Speaks Out On Rules & Regulations, Influence Of Dr. Dre

Coming off his success as part of the rap supergroup The Firm, Brooklyn rapper AZ felt it was time to get a little more serious with his new effort, "Pieces of a Man," due out April 7.

By drawing on sources ranging from the poetry of Langston Hughes to the block parties he attended as a kid, AZ says that his new album found him searching for a "higher expression of self" and exhibiting a "more lyrically inclined" side than on his 1995 debut, "Doe or Die."

That maturity came to a head in his collaboration with Rza of the Wu-Tang Clan on a new track called "The Birth," on which AZ admits that the duo were looking to discuss the need for a little order in an otherwise chaotic social situation.

"We were just trying to instill that back in the minds of the people," AZ said. "Like, you know, know, let's get some rules and regulations going on, man. Let's have some

morals and principles, some laws, man." [800k QuickTime]

Other guest stars on "Man" include Firm bandmate Nas on "How Ya Livin'" and rapper Half-A-Mil, whose debut album AZ plans to release on his own label, Goldmine Records. But AZ doesn't want to limit himself to promoting just rap acts on Goldmine, and plans to diversify the label to include both R&B and rock groups.

As for the future, AZ claims that there is still plenty of tape left over from the "Man" sessions with Dr. Dre, whom AZ said was extremely influential to how he approached the sound of the new record.

"That West Coast vibe that he was bringing was new for me," AZ said, "Because Dre only works with important people in the game, and that just made me feel like I was an important person just by the fact that he had the time to do what he had to do with us." [500k QuickTime]

"That was live," AZ added, "and his music is inspirational, too.

Cause he's got that, that funk that makes you get ill."

AZ will tour behind "Pieces of a Man" this summer.