Underrated might be one way to describe the career of AZ. Underappreciated may be even better. The Queens, N.Y., MC is poised to rectify such matters with Aziatic. His fourth overall release—an

Underrated might be one way to describe the career of AZ. Underappreciated may be even better. The Queens, N.Y., MC is poised to rectify such matters with Aziatic. His fourth overall release—and second for Motown—Aziatic showcases both AZ's lyrical abilities and his ear for music. The set's first offering, the aptly titled "I'm Back" featuring El Shaber, intertwines hardcore lyrics and a horn-drenched backdrop. Longtime partner-in-rhyme Nas turns up on "The Essence." The pair, who have worked together on various projects—including its group, the Firm—trade line for line with precision over a Baby Paul and Mike Risko-produced track. Other highlights on the soulful set include "Fan Mail" and "Once Again."—RH