After two albums that received vastly different responses (1998's Pieces of a Man and 2001's 9 Lives), his fourth album is considered AZ's comeback album, which restored his credibility. The album features AZ's flow and style over melodic, soulful production. It featured a duet between AZ and long-time friend and collaborator, Nas, "The Essence", which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. The album went on to sell over 500,000 copies and be certified Gold by the RIAA.
The album was mostly well received by critics, one such positive review from Brad Mills at Allmusic, states:
"AZ has been looked upon to do amazing things with his music. Has he lived up to those high expectations? On this album he has. From start to finish, the beats on this album are complex, inventive, and almost perfectly suited for AZ's style of rhyming. He's carefully crafted this album rather than slapped it together overnight to meet his quota, and it shows. It helps immensely that he's brought along people like DR Period, Az Izz, Nas, and Buckwild, but they don't outshine the younger AZ and he holds his own well."
He continues by saying; "Lyrically, musically, and historically, AZ has come up with his best work in a long time on this album."