The Aztext x XPL – Who Cares If We’re Dope? Vol. 3 Posted: June 5, 2011 by stefanoneder in Album Reviews
Tags: Skilltester Stabbone, The Aztext, XPL 0
Artist: The Aztext
Album: Who Cares If We’re Dope? Vol 3
The Aztext are an oft overlooked group in Independent Hip Hop. That may primarily be because of the fact they hail from ‘under-the-radar’ Burlington, VT. But we all now know that hip hop is not restricted to major metropolitan areas. Hip Hop has reached almost every corridor of the world, and certainly the nation. Once you hear the music The Aztext make, where they are from becomes a moot point.
The Aztext have release a series of projects which focus on enlisting one producer for all of the songs. For the third installment they are working with XPL who I know nothing about at all. The production is indeed a strength of this EP however. I consider it moreso than the other two installments of EPs previously released. The beats are mellow, yet charismatic.They draw you in.
Ol’Skool gives you an indication of where the artists’ heads are at. They stay true to hip hop’s basics. They are not being to over indulgent and rapping about things that have not happened to them or things they do not have. They are about the beats and the lyrics. They are in fact purists.Down The Road is a song that asks the question: If you met the future version of you would you want to know the story of your life or would you rather just let it play out? The songs verses have the emcees play out from the vantage point of the emcees’ younger selves meeting the older versions. It’s an interesting premise. It’s a dope track conceptually and definitely one that I could see getting extended run on the Ipod.
Break It Down is an extremely mellow track that features an emcee that spits better in his second language (English) then some people in their first language. I first ran into Skilltester Stabbone’s music on an EP from Romanian producer, Jupiter. Coincidentally that same EP also featured The Aztext. Obviously a connection was made from that process and a couple of years later they are doing songs together. This song is one that you could vibe to to unwind from a long day. And again, it bears mentioning, Stabbone’s first language is Romanian and he kills it in English. Damn impressive.
The second version of Down The Road is actually my favorite track off of the EP as it has the emcees now writing from the perspective of being the older versions meeting themselves in their youth in the same situations as the first version of the song as heard earlier in the EP. I like how they made two songs relating to once concept but from two unique vantage points. That’s probably one of the most innovative tracks I have heard in a long while. The production is jazzy and incorporates more horn than the original. It’s just a fun song who’s vision is executed to perfection.
Overall when you listen to this third installment of Who Cares If We’re Dope? you get the sense that The Aztext have a great appreciation for hip hop artists who came before them. They aren’t flashy and won’t offer you any corny gimmicks. Their style is steepened in lyricism, dope beats, and the ability to make good songs. XPL gave a very good showing of himself as well on this EP. There was nothing too heavy in his production but yet they did make me nod my head quite a bit. He is definitely on a laid back vibe.
If their website is accurate, it looks like the next project from The Aztext will be produced by Dub Sonata. I am big fan of his work and look forward to when that one will drop. So cop this release and stay tuned for more from the team. if you are interested in the first two installments, just search Itunes and give them a listen.
The Aztext :: Who Cares If We're Dope? Volume One :: Elevated Press Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
The Aztext are a Burlington, Vermont crew who have been making independent hip hop for the better part of a decade. It's been three years since their last release, 2007's "The Sacred Document," which was a solid album of old school, underground hip hop. Their latest album, "Who Cares If We're Dope?" is being released in four EPs, each featuring a different producer. Volume on features previous Aztext collaborator E Train.
The EP starts off with the hard-hitting "Just Like That." E Train channels 9th Wonder doing the Bomb Squad, with layers upon layers of soul samples creating a sonic collage. The Aztext lay out their mission, with Learic rapping:
"I'm on a mission to
Give hard-working people something to listen to
I simply find the best way to say the truth
Music is eternal youth
I use it as further proof
Cause we just build on what came before us
Predecessors who might have said it better
Why are we here?
We're all tired of the shit we hear"
They lay it all out in those bars. They make the kind of hip hop they grew up listening to, and use the mic to speak truth. There's no phony gangsta posturing, just honest rhymes. MCs Learic and Pro trade rhymes like Run DMC or the Beastie Boys. With their back-to-basics rhymes and E Train's crate-digging beats, its as if Puffy, Southern Rap, emo rap, or Kanye never happened. The Aztext live in an alternative universe where mic skills are more important than image, and where hip hop stayed firmly rooted in its original sound and aesthetic.
Given that context, it's interesting that "Time Is Just a Glare" uses the metaphor of hip hop as a prison, stifling creativity with its rules. "Conformed for too long/I want to move on," raps Pro. "Reinvent myself/New Artist/New Song." It's hard to tell if he's reacting against the current trends in hip hop that he wants to avoid, or the traditional sound that have become the Aztext trademark. On "Just Like That," Pro raps "Lately I'm terrified because the music doesn't speak to me," which further highlights their disconnection from the contemporary rap world.
The Aztext's response to this existential crisis of where they belong in the hip hop universe is to go as hard as they know how. "Rainy Day" sees them laying some introspective rhymes over melancholy soul, and they rap double time on "Waiting," It's the best song on the album, and not surprisingly was the track that inspired them to get back into the studio in the first place.
If you are a fan of traditional boom-bap, do yourself a favor and check out "Who Cares If We're Dope?" It's a welcome return from VT's finest.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
"Speaking of new music, I’m excited to pass along that VT hip-hop heavyweights the Aztext have finally released the long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s The Scared Document. Or, at least, they’ve started to. Rather than release a traditional full-length, the trio is dropping its latest episodically, like a TV season. The first episode, The Aztext & E-Train: Who Cares If We’re Dope? Vol. 1 debuted Tuesday, December 7, on Elevated Press Records. Future episodes will come out every two months. And, not to spoil the review of the season premiere that will appear in these pages next week: This thing was worth the wait." - Dan Bolles of 7dvt.com
This blog is written by The Aztext. We will write about inspiration for past and future tracks, breakdown our own verses, review movies, music, and keep you up to date on what's new! If you would like us to write on any particular topic, please shoot us an email!