I haven't done one of these posts in quite some time and going forward I'll try to do more.
The "What If" subject is frequently brought up in most forms of entertainment, especially hip hop. The last time I covered something like this was talking about how things in hip hop would be if The Notorious BIG and 2Pac were still alive, which can be read below:
Today's topic will cover "What If" Nas and AZ had released a collaboration album.
Everyone reading this should already be aware of the classic, first time pairing of Nas & AZ on "Life's A Bitch" from "Illmatic". From there, it became all about The Firm, the short lived supergroup which consisted of Cormega (briefly before he was shown the proverbial door), Foxy Brown, and Nature, and other tight songs such as "Mo Money, Mo Murder, Homicide" (Doe Or Die) and "Affirmative Action" (It Was Written) came afterwards. As evident with "Life's A Bitch" and "Mo Money, Mo Murder, Homicide", it was clear that Nas and AZ had amazing chemistry together. A collaboration album between them was never mentioned circa 94-97, but with hindsight being 20/20, the thought would've been highly intriguing and very anticipated. Speaking of The Firm, let's briefly go back to that group.
I've touched on The Firm quite often on the blog (and you can review those posts in the archive), so in the interest of time, I'll just say that the group itself, even with the talent involved, was overhyped and while their first (and only) album was very good in spots, all involved had better days on the mic and behind the boards.
I certainly could imagine a Nas and AZ collaboration album in a hip hop world without the Firm album, respectively. The title would've been a combination of something confirming their status in the game and obvious connection with New York. 1996 was the year of "It Was Written", so the best time to release said album would've been 1997. About 12-15 tracks deep (two or three skits maximum), guest appearances would've been very limited, and now when I think about it, I don't think an album like this needed any guest appearances. The production end would've consisted of the Trackmasters (and those affiliated), DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Large Professor, plus I feel they would've perfectly balanced things out in terms of solo and joint songs.
All things considered, if promoted correctly with the right amount of hype, this album would've been a success and chances are we'll still be talking about it today. There's no reason to believe this couldn't have been a 5 star album, and there's no doubt that Nas and AZ could've pulled it off. Could it still happen today? I wouldn't rule it out, but the chances seem VERY slim at this point, considering where both men are at this stage in their careers. In the end, I'll continue to cherish the collaborations they did make together.
It's interesting to sit back and wonder "what if".