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&183;
’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)
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.
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.
Reviewer’s choice: Life of an MC Back 2 Basics
REVIEWED 3.19.08 BY www.platform8470.com
posted by: cpf | 03-18-2008 | rated: phat
Up for free download is The Aztext’s sophomore album ’The Sacred Document’, a hip-hop trio from Vermont. Vermont? Yep the city known for its D.O.C. cheese, trout fishing and we wouldn’t have a clue of what else. But on dodging the risk of makin you surf away from this link, we’ll try to convince you to click it.
Under the motto ’never underestimate the unknown’, the trio of MC’s Learic and Pro and DJ Big Cat, names that don’t ring a bell with most of you, is the kind of group that takes you by surprise, straight from the beginning or, when you was rolling a blunt at first, right in the middle. Either way, they take your attention like Janet at the Super Bowl, whether it’s through their secure, well-structured but yet fresh rapping (the way they alliterate with ’L’ or ’P’ in ’We Back’), vivid scratchin of well-chosen samples or the infectious, melodic boom-bap (’we’re back with another overdose of boom-bap, tracks that will blow your stereo in two, jack!’) by in-house producers such as Dub Sonata, Special Weapon, E Train or Touchphonics.
Underground heroes One Be Lo (on ’Lettin You Know’) and Mac Lethal (on ’My Kingdom’) are compatible to the sound of the album, and while their debut release from 2006 ’Haven’t You heard?’ remains mostly negatively answered (literally, in sales, and figuratively, as in an answer to the question in the album title), ’The Sacred Document’ is your and their chance to get acquainted with each other.