Typically, people do not associate the state of Vermont very closely with hip hop music. PRO (originally from Monreal, Quebec) Learic (originally from Washington DC), and DJ Big Kat are trying to change that. Following 10 years of solo efforts, the 3 joined forces in 2005 to form, The Aztext.
Since forming, The Aztext have already completed their highly anticipated debut album, “Haven't You Heard?” whose single 'Who's Wit Us?' hit number 2 on national college radio charts. “Haven’t You Heard?” was Hip Hop Album of the Year in the Free Press and earned a spot as top 10 album (in all genres) in the Seven Days publication. The album features hip hop legends Krumb Snatcha of the Gangstarr Foundation, Q-Unique of the Rock Steady Crew and formerly of The Arsonists, Wordsworth of the Lyricist Lounge Show, Double AB and The Loyalists.
The Aztext have shared the state with the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, DMC, Zion I and the Grouch, Brother Ali, Planet Asia, Akrobatik, Louis Logic and more. After touring the better part of New England, one thing is clear, The Aztext have a must see live show!
The trio just finished up their Sophomore LP, The Sacred Document. The album features the mic skills of One Be Lo, Mac Lethal, Double AB and Rich Mo. While beats were created by super producer’s Dub Sonata, E Train, Touchponics, Special Weapon, and Nastee; as well as The Aztext's first self-produced track.
Be on the lookout for The Aztext - coming soon to a town near you!
FEEL FREE TO READ THE FOLLOWING REVIEWS ! ! !
REVIEWED (11.20.07) BY Bogdan for: www.4elemente.ro
Until last year, I wouldn't have dreamed that Vermont (known among other things for its D.O.C. cheese) could harbor a hip-hop act capable of putting out an album of the same caliber as groups based in more active states, scene-wise. At that time, the boys' Haven't You Heard? LP caught my attention with its classic boom-bap sound and topical maturity. "A talented outfit, great debut, but they'll probably vanish without local support" I said to myself. Gladly, I was proven wrong along with their sophomore album launch, dated November 2007 : The Sacred document_.Just as its predecessor, this LP saw the light of day on the group's own AZT Records, same producers behind the faders (Dub Sonata, Special Weapon, E Train, Touchphonics), but augmented by Nastee's skills. And although the guest list lacks last year's notoriety, with only Mac Lethal and One Be Lo liable to ring a bell for the crowds, that leaves room for local talent such as Memms, Double AB or Rich Mo. First contact - Evolution, the only track fully produced by Pro, Learic and DJ Big Kat; an instrumental joint peppered with a fair share of scratches and vocal inserts. We Back is a pretty cliche "witness the return of" track, ample opportunity for The Aztext to promote their plan ("We're back with another overdose of boom-bap/ Tracks that will blow your stereo in two, jack!"), pinpoint people ("I do this for the rich middle class and the broke kids/ But hate those who claim poets dead on a motive") and pursue prowess, with Pro proudly presenting his potent, punchy and percussive P-word phrasing powers, presenting possibilities and perplexing peers in the process: ("Practice puttin' paragraphs together properly/ Possibly paintin' PR's on people's precious property/ Poundin' Paps 12-packs back, with no apologies/ Packed pottery is not for P is my philosophy/ Passengers, please put applause on pause/ PRO needs payments, to support my pitbull's paws / I'll pick apart a rapper's passages, pass it thru PRO's analysis/ Trash it, cause it's plastic, giving passers-by paralysis"). Luckily, despite having been left limited leeway, Learick lingers a little, then loudly leaps back, lunging at listeners with "L"-laced lyrical lashes: ("Long as I'm livin' there'll be lessons to learn/ Loaded with logical land mines so you understand lines/ Lovin' the life of a lyricist, deliver words/ Laser-guided language locating listeners/ Losers who label us get laughed at/ But do we want a label to have us run in circles like a lab rat?/ Lost like John Locke, you get your legs back/ A seat on luxury's lap's the only thing we lack"). Dub Sonata, bearing responsibility for most instrumentals on The Sacred Document, puts forth Our Kingdom, sounding like it's just been pulled out of Stoupe's (Jedi Mind Tricks) old treasure chest, while the in-house MC's alongside Mac Lethal claim the throne of a metaphorical kingdom. For Pro, the kingdom is nothing less than the present state of hip-hop culture : "I sit atop a mountain of old classics (hip-hop albums), it's so tragic/ Most had turned ghosts through political caskets. [...] I watch MTV as camouflage, and make my way to the surface, with Nike's and bandannas on. (Becoming) Another tag-along with a catchy dance (finger snap/ walk it out) and battle song, hoping my influence soon catches on". Further explanations on the metaphorical content come from the author himself: "The politics involved in hip hop today (money, marketing...) have killed off tons of talented MCs who spoke their mind, and wrote conceptual tracks. If I need to be, I would write a modern day 'banger' and dumb my style down, if it meant getting the world's attention. And once that happened, I could speak my truths: "I watch cartoons, your gun shit ain't a part of me / Which inspired other individual artistry/ And I was crowned king, for killing mediocrity" - the mediocre hip hop dominates today's airwaves - and bring hip hop back to an era that I loved.". On the other hand, Learic goes for a more "romanced" approach: "I tried to tie in some medieval concepts and imagine what it would be like to actually be the leader of a kingdom in a world where hip-hop was the predominant focus (i.e. "towering over a crowd in a courtyard this poor bard performs for bored guards who work hard to absorb art"). And overall I think the name Our Kingdom is just a way to describe our way of doing things musically". What follows is a description of the group's status quo concerning hip-hop; Couldn't Stand the Pain, Keepin' It Live or Move into Position are self-made promises to keep making hip-hop until the last minute, also remembering their path and efforts up to the present time.However, as much as they love the culture, The Aztext are unable to ignore the surroundings. Lookin' Out My Window examines the underside of an unstable society, in which the only solid values remain the trust in friends and loved ones.Roll Call and Back 2 Basics kick the BPM up a notch, with boom-bap-ish grooves provided by Touchphonics, showcasing Learic and Pro's word games and breathing technique. The creative process takes the center stage on Adventures of..., like an allegory to the tune of Isaac Hayes' trademark sound (Walk On By), shaken and stirred by E Train. The same producer delivers organic harmonies on Life of an MC - a dream-like account of living without cares, slipping from one job to the next, while MC-ing remains the one true love.Although I've listened to the album plenty of times, to me the choice of name is still puzzling; no religious controversy or sectarian proselytism in sight. On the contrary, the LP confirms the impression left by The Aztext's debut venture - artistic quality, now joined by dedication and perseverance.
Life of an MC
Back 2 Basics
Reviewed (12.18.07) by Patrick Taylor for www.rapreviews.com
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
This is the second album by Burlington, Vermont trio the Aztexts. As on their debut, "Haven't You Heard," MCs PRO and Learic and DJ Big Kat are instilling hip hop with a healthy dose of old school sounds. The album sounds good from back to front, with banging beats provided by Nastee, Dub Sonata, Special Weapon, E Train, and the Touchphonics. DJ Big Kat provides cutting and scratching throughout, which helps to tie all the beats together, and give the Aztexts their own sound. Most of the beats are good, and a few of them are brilliant. "We Back" starts things off with what sounds like a hip hop version of the James Bond theme, over which PRO and Learic swap lines like the Beasties or Run DMC; "Lettin' You Know" is a moody track with pianos and strings, accentuated by Big Kat's scratching; "Keepin' It Live" has a jazzy groove reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest; "Pay Attention" offers some chopped up funk, while tracks like "Lookin' Out My Window" showcase a mellower, more introspective side of the duo. One of the best tracks on the album is "Adventures of.." which combines a dirty, bluesy guitar lick with strings, horn stabs, and sped-up vocals. The song showcases the duo's storytelling skills as they relay the story of a night out in a seedy bar: "The waitress slowly approaches says can I bum a smokeI look at PRO but we both quit a year agoBut I fear if I say no she'll just walk away soI take her by the elbow and say well, honI don't but what do you say we both go find one?PRO shoots me a look as if to say fine sonHave your fun, but be sure you're ready when the time comes" They go on to take out the fake MCs in the club with a microphone massacre like Rakim used to deliver. Eric B. and Rakim are clearly influences on the Aztext, both in their storytelling style and their battle rhyming skills. "Roll Call" even sounds like "Know the Ledge." PRO and Learic's verbal dexterity also looks back to the golden age of hip hop, when lyricism and verbal finesse were valued much more highly than they are today. It was this type of inventiveness and linguistic acrobatics that made me love hip hop in the first place, and I was happy to see the Aztexts carrying on the tradition. They also score some nice features, including Mac Lethal and One.Be.Lo. My one complaint with the Aztexts is with their delivery. At times they sound forced, like they are trying too hard to sound hard. Its as if they were imitating Ghostface Killah at his most insane. Maybe it has to do with coming from an area that doesn't have its own distinct verbal traditions to draw from, or maybe it's a case of the MCs trying to find their own voice. To some extent itÕs a matter of taste, but there were definitely several points on this album where I was not feeling their flow. That said, the Aztexts are a talented group who do a lot right, and they deserve recognition as a force to be reckoned with. Their beats and rhymes recall the glory days of hip hop, when dookie chains and Africa medallions were king. They are keeping the underground vibrant, and are doing Burlington VT proud.
REVIEWED (11/25/07) BY WWW.EXPERIMUSIC.COM
artist: THE AZTEXT
title: THE SACRED DOCUMENT
label: AZT release: November 07
New England based hip-hop trio; PRO, Learic and DJ Big Cat, have been plying their trade in the hip-hop world for over a decade and joined forces in 2005 to form 'The Aztext'. Following on from their acclaimed 2006 debut release, 'Haven't You Heard', 'The Aztext' are back to rock the hip-hop community with their varied 19 track sophomore release, 'The Sacred Document'. 'The Aztext' have collaborated with the likes of Q-Unique, Mac Lethal and Wordsworth and have appeared alongside such notable artists as Non Phixion, Brother Ali, One Be Lo, Rahzel and KRS One amongst others. These high profile collaborations and appearances give a strong indication as to the style and quality of 'The Aztext' and immediately place the band amongst the higher echelons of independent hip-hop's elite. To deserve and maintain such a revered position, 'The Sacred Document' needs to be a strong, versatile, thumping and thought-provoking release and guess what, it most certainly is. Opening with the muscular and catchy 'We Back', the trio proceed to spit impeccable high-octane verbage over a stomping backdrop of stirring melodies and thick dragging beats. Before the listener has room to catch their breath, 'The Aztext' drop their strongest track, 'Lettin' You Know' feat. One Be Lo. Covering similar territory to modern-era Jedi Mind Tricks, the band utilise thick industrial beats to prop up a beguiling, vintage sounding melody, and then destroy the track with energetic and rasping rapping which sees the trio constantly rotate their spitting to great effect. As the album proceeds, the use of vintage soul/jazz samples grows to make the tracks remarkably cohesive, unique and fresh. Take 'Couldn't Stand the Pain' with its 70's summer-time bounce, 'Life of an MC's' sixties Bacharach groove or the funky 'Move Into Position' which seamlessly fuses deep, industrial hip-hop beats with upbeat soul-funk.'Roll Call' is yet another stand out with its mutated 70's Rhodes-fender backdrop and ultra-swift rapping which combine to create an image of driving at 100mph through a dark and foggy Gotham City in a souped up Batmobile. The spliced-up, scratch-heavy chorus is produced with real skill and when the vocalists spit "I'll be in this rap shit until my fcuking heart stops" from the bottom of their hearts, it really speaks volumes to the listener. 'East Coast Air' featuring Double AB and Rich Mo recalls the urban 90's classic hardcore of Nas, Mobb Deep and Puff Daddy & Family. Utilising a skeletal and meandering wind instrumental melody over thumping beats, the trio really set the scene to the dark going's-on in the wintry urban jungle. The lyrics convey a real sense of authenticity and on the chorus they spit "the east coast air is so chilly/so brilly/don't be sacred, you so silly/to stay warm we smoke phillys/while we wear phat bubble goose coats with weed stashed by both kidneys". As the album reaches its closing stages, the quality does not wane. Tracks like the complexly produced percussive soundscape of 'Our Kingdom' featuring Mac Lethal, and, the reflective, emotive quality of 'Lookin Out My Window' are pure strength whilst the closer, 'Back 2 Basics' is a rousing slice of old-skool hip-hop which is reminiscent of The Beastie Boys . Some of the spitting on this track is mind-blowing as the trio ride the beats with unparalleled quality. As a bonus, three radio edits of 'Lettin You Know', 'Roll Call' and 'Back 2 Basics' are included. So, all in all, 'The Aztext' have created a 16track deep sophomore album which is brimming with phat beats, cleverly procured and utilised samples, fast and coherent spiting and a sense of real hip-hop authenticity. There are no duds or lame skits to ruin the listeners focus and the production values are pretty strong. If you looking to get one of 2007's hottest independent hip-hop releases then check these guys out now. Support the streets.(AM)
Reviewed (11.21.07) by Dan Bolles for www.sevendaysvt.com
The Vermont hip-hop hit parade just keeps rolling. In the last six months, urban music aficionados have been treated to a slew of local releases featuring bombastic beats, killer cuts and phenomenal flow from some of the area's best and brightest. VT Union's Tha Mixtape, GTD's Ill Sessions: The Album and a self-titled debut from Essex MC Matty C have set the beat-dropping bar exceptionally high in the realm of local hip-hop. But it could be argued that Burlington trio The Aztext beat all three releases to the punch with their critically acclaimed 2006 debut Haven't You Heard? Not to be outdone — by themselves or anyone else — the B-town boys are back with a remarkable follow-up, The Sacred document&183; Hip-hop hooray, indeed.Centered around the formidable lyrical skills of MCs Pro and Learic — with more than a little help from DJ Big Kat — The Aztext pick up where they left off on one of this newspaper's "Top Ten Albums of the Year" in 2006 — and make a strong case for a repeat in 2007. This time around, they've employed the talents of some regional A-list luminaries to showcase their talents.The deft verbal acrobatics that garnered their first disc such high praise are on full display throughout the record. In fact, it's possible Pro and Learic are an even more dexterously dynamic duo than they were when they checked in a year ago. They've honed their rhyming abilities to a razor-sharp point, seamlessly flowing in and out of each other's lines, and promptly serve notice on the album's first full track. Aptly titled "We Back," it was produced by local hip-hop impresario Nastee of VT Union.Nastee's work on the song — and a few others throughout the album — highlights one of the disc's great strengths: production. Featuring turns by some of the region's most respected and accomplished producers, The Sacred Document sets itself apart. Dub Sonata, Special Weapon and The Loyalists' E Train and DJ Touchphonics all take turns making beats, the result being one of the more sonically diverse local albums you'll hear — hip-hop or otherwise. Touchphonics' work is particularly inspired — his turntable cuts on "Rollcall" are simply sick.The Aztext aren't merely one of the area's best hip-hop acts. They're one of the best local groups, period. Catch their CD release party this Saturday at Nectar's, hosted by E Train and with special guest performances by Double AB, Wombaticus Rex, Burnt MD and Network, The Truth and DJ Anubus.
Reviewed(1.1.08) by SnoopFrog for www.rap4fame.com
Wertung: (3,5 von 5 Kronen) (3.5/5)
The Aztext, das sind die Emcees Pro und Learnic zusammen mit DJ Big Kat. Nach ihrem Debüt-Album "Haven't You Heard" machen sie sich 2007 zum zweiten Mal auf, die Flagge von Burlington, Vermont mit ihrem Sound hoch zu halten und der Welt zu zeigen, wie sich HipHop anzuhören hat. "The Sacred Document" erscheint über AZT Records und winkt mit Gästen wie One.Be.Lo und Mac Lethal.Dass The Aztext klassischen Neo-BoomBap machen, bestreiten sie nicht einmal selbst. Heißt es doch schon im ersten Song, "We Back": "We back, back with another overdose of Boom Bap". All jene, die also Alben, welche ein bisschen der Zeit entrückt sind, gespickt mit nostalgischen Sounds und Ehrungen der goldenen 90er, nicht mehr riechen können, sollten an dieser Stelle aufhören zu lesen. Denn dieses Album ist ein Paradebeispiel jener Kategorie. Relaxte Kopfnicker, nachdenkliche Stimmungsdämpfer oder schlicht und einfach knackige Drums bzw. die üblichen Verdächtigen, so nennen sich diese Beats. In allererste Sparte gehört der schon erwähnte Opener, der dann vom ernsteren "Lettin' You Know" gefolgt wird, für das das Trio niemand Geringeren als One.Be.Lo gewinnen konnte. "Once opon a time... in the land of Vermont, there was a group called The Aztext. They met a traveller from Michigan, namend One Be Lo. And they did a song like this" so das Intro, während Dub Sonata's Traum eines Beats kräftig dafür plädiert, erstmal auf Replay gesetzt zu werden. "Inspiration comes cheap with these beats we get". Das ist allerdings wahr.
Nächste Zutat im Kochtopf ist ein Gute-Laune-Song, und in "Keepin' It Live" können Pro und Learic mit abwechselnd eingeworfenen Bars derart überzeugen, dass der Einstand von Hochstimmung nicht lange auf sich warten lässt. In "Couldn't Stand The Pain" eröffnet Learic über einen Voice-Sample-geschwängerten Beat, wie er sich durch Schreiben Luft machen kann. "Take a second, read the name, it's plain to see / It's personally my way to free the pain in me / So every day I need, to work every page I read, and face I meet and phrase I speak / That's my way of keepin' it real, cliché indeed / I'm like a journalist on this G-L-O-B-E / My pen records every single thing I see / So if I never plant a seed, this is how I read my legacy". Wie fast alle Alben ist auch dieses nicht fehlerlos, und sobald die Top-Beats aussetzen, kommt auch die Gesamtdarbietung ins Schwanken. Zudem noch mit recht gehaltlosen Lyrics gesegnet hätte man sich "Pay Attention" eigentlich sparen können, um dann gleich zum nächsten Track voranzuschreiten, der sich wirklich gewaschen hat. Das atmosphärische Voice-Sample in der Hook mit den trockenen Snares schreit förmlich nach Pro's Raps. Mit dessen und Learic's erstklassiger Leistung am Mic darf man "Blues & Jazz" getrost als Höhepunkt bezeichnen. "As we return, our Rap tradition remains / Spontaneous, like a Jazz musician was playin'".Trotz großartigem Story-Telling hat der Beat von "Adventures Of..." zeitweise einen sehr nervigen Charakter, weshalb dieser Song auch bei weitem nicht an seinen Vorgänger anknüpfen kann. Touchphonics ist zuständig für die OldSchool-angehauchten Beats, von denen ersterer an "Roll Call" geht. Das etwas seichte "All I See" reißt nicht besonders viel, und die gesäuselte Hook des Gastes verändert das höchstens ins Negative. Nun sind die mittelmäßigen Tracks überwunden und man darf sich wieder über erstklassige Produktionen freuen, von denen das Fanfaren-getriebene "Move Into Position" den furiosen Anfang macht. "There's people round the world who scream 'The Aztext' / Hopin' that we'll resurrect lyrics with purpose / They exist, haven't you heard our first disc?". Die relaxte Umschreibung des "Life Of An MC" ist nicht minder gelungen und macht den Durchhänger im Mittelteil vollends vergessen. DJ Big Kat betätigt sich mit Cuts und Scratches wieder kräftig am Geschehen, und bastelt sich den Chorus (fast) selbst zusammen. Mit "East Coast Air" folgt noch ein solider Track, der nur dazu dient, von "Our Kingdom" überstrahlt zu werden. Düster-gefährliche Produktion von Dub Sonata, die sich auch auf einem Release aus der AOTP-Ecke ebenfalls gut gemacht hätte. Dazu noch ein Feature von Rhymesayer Mac Lethal ergibt zweifelsohne einen Höhepunkt. In "Lookin Out My Window" wird dann beweisen, dass The Aztext auch gesungene Hooks angemessen einzusetzen wissen, während als Abschluss mit "Back 2 Basics" das Motto des Albums, verpackt in Touchphonics' OldSchool-Beat, nochmals verkündet wird. Die letzten drei Tracks, Radio Edits von drei schon gehörten Songs, werden hier mal außen vor gelassen."The Sacred Document" von The Aztext ist genau das, was man unter einem gelungenen Neo-BoomBap-Album versteht, nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Dementsprechend gibt es hier viele solide Tracks, wenige Lückenfüller und einige richtig fabelhafte Beats mit Raps, die auf ihre lyrische Gewichtigkeit bedacht sind. Da dieses Album absolut garnichts bietet, was es nicht schon in zig-facher Variation zu hören gab, hat man nichts versäumt, wenn man es nicht gehört hat. Wem allerdings dieser 90er New York-Sound in seiner heutigen Form gefällt, weil er mit den Hip Pop-Releases des neuen Milleniums unzufrieden ist, der wird sich auch an diesem Album erfreuen können.Reviewed