Doe or Die

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Doe or Die
Az doe or die.JPG
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 10, 1995 (1995-10-10)
GenreEast Coast hip hop, Mafioso rap
7243 8 32631 2 7
ProducerAZ (Executive) , Lindsey Williams (Executive) , Damian "Deo" Blyden (Executive) , Pete Rock, Loose, Buckwild, L.E.S., DR Period, Amar Pep, N.O. Joe, Ski, Lunatic Mind
AZ chronology
Doe or Die
Pieces of a Man
Singles from Doe or Die
  1. "Sugar Hill"
    Released: June 27, 1995

Doe or Die is the debut studio album by rapper AZ, released October 10, 1995 on EMI Records. The album features guest appearances by artists such as Nas and Miss Jones, and production from Pete Rock, L.E.S., and Buckwild, among others.

Upon release, Doe or Die received notable critical and commercial success. The album peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200[1], and #1 on the U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart[2]. Doe or Die produced several singles, including, "Mo Money, Mo Murder," "Gimme Yours (remix)," "Doe or Die" and "Sugar Hill" - which was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1995.[3] The album went on to sell over a million copies[4] AZ has planned a sequel for the album entitled Doe or Die 2, which is currently awaiting release.


The album incorporates fictitious tales chronicling the underworld lifestyle of organized crime. These cinematic narratives often depict a mobster's ascent to fame and wealth. Further emphasizing these themes, the cover of Doe or Die portrays AZ as an honoree of an elaborate mob funeral. Within the cover, a stylish portrait of AZ is surrounded by flowers, while the body of the rapper is buried in a casket that contains large amounts of dollars. In addition, the liner notes and the back of the album features images of AZ counting money, drinking expensive wine, and smoking cigars.[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[6]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[7]
Richmond Times3/4 stars[10]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[11]
The Source4/5 stars[12]

Upon its release, Doe or Die received generally favorable reviews from most music critics. Stanton Swihart from Allmusic gave the album 4½ out of 5 stars and compared certain aspects of it to rapper Nas' debut album Illmatic, stating "The two albums are very much the twin sides of the same double-headed coin. They are so closely connected, in fact, that it's difficult to pinpoint where Doe or Die's points of departure are located." He further stated "Certainly it was one of the strongest, most promising debut efforts of 1995, and probably one of the year's strongest rap albums period."[6] Christian Hoard from Rolling Stone gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, and called it a "Literate, sensitive look at street life that sits comfortably, as a companion, next to Nas' masterpiece (Illmatic)."[11] Selwyn Seyfu Hinds from Spin rated the album 7 out of 10, and stated

"Doe or Die unfolds in a well sketched procession. AZ pours forth tales of loot capers and ghetto aspirations in a rapped-patterned delivery reminiscent, but for the high tonality, of the godfather of the hip hop hustle ethic, Kool G Rap ... Doe or Die achieves its purpose."[13]

— Selwyn Seyfu

Although praising the album's lyricism, and rating it 3 out of 4 stars, Los Angeles Times writer Cheo H. Coker criticized some of the album's production, describing some of it as "lackluster beats."[7] A critic for gave the album an 8.5 out of 10 rating and labeled it as "AZ's best album to date", with the "most replay value". In regards to the Mafioso content, he stated "This album does deserve to be mentioned right alongside Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., It Was Written, and Reasonable Doubt for popularizing the Mafioso style. In fact, it dropped before two of those three albums did." He however gave criticism to some of the album's production, and lack of consistency, explaining "Despite the shortcomings, the good tracks on this album are not just good, they are great! There are four that I would refer to as certified classics. The main problem with the album is that it could have been an all time classic itself if executive production had been better and the beat selection had been a little more on point in several cases. All in all, this album is slept on and should be viewed as a gem that must be in every true head's collection.".[8]

Track listing[edit]

# Title Performer(s) Producer(s) Time
1 "Intro" AZ,
Lunatic Mind
2 "Uncut Raw"
  • AZ
Loose 2:59
3 "Gimme Yours"
  • Intro/chorus: Nas
  • Verses: AZ
Pete Rock 3:07
4 "Ho Happy Jackie"
  • AZ
Buckwild 3:34
5 "Rather Unique"
  • AZ
Pete Rock 4:49
6 "I Feel for You"
  • Verses: AZ
  • Backing vocals: Erica Scott
Amar Pep 3:03
7 "Sugar Hill" L.E.S. 4:09
8 "Mo Money, Mo Murder"
  • AZ, Nas
DR Period 6:32
9 "Doe or Die"
  • AZ
N.O. Joe 4:40
10 "We Can't Win"
  • Intro/first verse/outro: Amar Pep
  • Second verse/hook: Barsham
  • Third verse: AZ
Amar Pep 3:23
11 "Your World Don't Stop"
  • AZ
Spunk Biggs,
12 "Sugar Hill (Remix)"
  • AZ
L.E.S. 4:18


Album singles[edit]

  • "Sugar Hill"
    • Released: June 27, 1995
    • B-side: "Rather Unique"
  • "Gimme Yours (Remix)" [Non-album single]
    • Released: December 5, 1995
    • B-side: "Uncut Raw"
  • "Doe Or Die"
    • Released: April 2, 1996
    • B-side: "Mo Money, Mo Murder (Homicide)"

Chart history[edit]

Year Album Chart positions
Billboard 200 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
1995 Doe or Die 15 1
Year Song Chart positions
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles Rhythmic Top 40 Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales
1995 "Gimme Yours" 115 51 30 21
"Sugar Hill" 25 12 3 28 4
"Doe or Die" 69 24 28

Doe or Die: 15th Anniversary[edit]

A 15th anniversary edition of Doe or Die was released on November 30, 2010 by AZ's own Quiet Money Records. Doe or Die: 15th Anniversary features production from Frank Dukes, Dave Moss, Statik Selektah, Baby Paul, Lil' Fame from M.O.P., and Roctimus Prime.[14] The album also features vocals from R&B singer June Summers.[15] All the songs from the original Doe or Die are remixed with a new beat.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top 200 Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  2. ^ "R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  3. ^ "Riaa - Gold & Platinum -". Archived from the original on 2013-02-01.
  4. ^ "AZ Interview".
  5. ^ "Doe or Die - AZ | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  6. ^ a b Swihart, Stanton. Review: Doe or Die. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-02-28.
  7. ^ a b Coker, H., Cheo. Review: Doe or Die. Los Angeles Times. P. 67. November 5, 1995.
  8. ^ a b S., Mr. Review: Doe or Die. Retrieved on 2010-02-28.
  9. ^ Review: Doe or Die Archived April 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Rhapsody. Retrieved on 2010-02-28.
  10. ^ McConico, Keith. Review: Doe or Die. Richmond Times : March 01, 1996.
  11. ^ a b Hoard, Christian. "Review: Doe or Die. Rolling Stone: 31. November 2, 2004.
  12. ^ Poluxoff, Nicholas. AZ 1995[permanent dead link]. The Source: December 1, 1995.
  13. ^ a b Hinds, Selwyn. Review: Doe or Die. Spin. Retrieved on 2010-02-28.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2012-02-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^

External links[edit]