Below are reviews of The Aztext second LP: The Sacred Document
Reviewed By Julian Williams, Music Editor (3.06.08) for Imprint Magazine
Imprint Music editor Julian Williams explores Vermont based Hip-Hop group, The Aztext’s sophomore album The Sacred document_
4.5 out of 5 - The Aztext
Do you remember Hip-Hop? Not rap. Hip-Hop. When it wasn’t about who had the biggest chain or the biggest gun or all the hottest women? When it was about who had the best flow? When it was about who could hold down a beat and who could not? When Hip-Hop was about having fun and not getting back at other lyricist and rappers?
I do. It was old school Talib Kweli. It was old school Mos Def. It was A Tribe Called Quest. It was The Fugees. It was Company Flow. It was Eric B. & Rakim. It was music for the sake of music. It was rhythmic beats and well-executed verses. It what was on at a good house party and you would ask someone ’Who is this?’ It’s what’s been missing from the music scene for a while.
And today, it’s back in the form of The Aztext’s second LP, The Sacred document_ The sensational three man piece hailing from Vermont consists of lyricists Pro and Learic, with DJ Big Kat piecing everything together behind the table. The trio seems to strive for and adequately deliver originality in beats, lyrical content, and vocal abilities, which was well documented and praised in their 2006 LP, Haven’t You Heard?. On The Sacred Document, it appears the group is trying to take it one step further.
The tracks utilized on The Sacred Document definitely do a phenomenal job of showcasing the lyrical dexterity of The Aztext’s main MCs, Learic and Pro. Their melodic, carefully placed, well structured rhymes keep the listener wanting more. Both rapper’s level of lyrical expertise and partnership become quite evident as you progress through the album. It takes a great deal of skill and work ethic to rap; it takes a great deal more to do it with another person. However, The Aztext’s featured lyricists do it proficiently with a consistency and fluidity that makes their efforts on The Sacred Document seem effortless. Pro and Learic are able to play off of numerous beats and other rappers with extreme ease, but their ability to go back-to-back with each other is what makes their songs really shine on the album. Check out their masterful rhyme techniques in "We Back," "Keepin’ It Live," "Couldn’t Stand the Pain," and "Pay Attention."
The head thumping beats and cuts produced on The Sacred Document do not only come from DJ Big Kat but a number of renowned producers including E-Train from The Loyalists, Touchphonics, and seasoned Hip Hop producer, Dub Sonata. The resulting collaboration of numerous beats from seperate producers gives The Aztext’s second LP a multi-layered, yet solidifying feel. It becomes a mesh of old school mellow Hip-Hop, heavily influenced by jazz and new school rhythmic beat precision. Listen to the beats laid down .. Into Position," "Adventures Of…," and "Back 2 Basics."
In an age where everything is a copy of a copy, and nothing really shocks you on the radio anymore, The Aztext are attempting to put out something special with their second effort. With this album, the trio has released a throwback to the old glory days of Hip-Hop, when it didn’t matter who you were or who was producing your music. Either you could handle the mic or the beat, or you couldn’t. It’s a tribute to what Hip-Hop used to be and, hopefully, evidence of what it still can be.
The Aztexts :: The Sacred Document :: AZT Records
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 (12.18.07) by Patrick Taylor for www.rapreviews.com
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 smoke
I look at PRO but we both quit a year ago
But I fear if I say no she’ll just walk away so
I take her by the elbow and say well, hon
I don’t but what do you say we both go find one?
PRO shoots me a look as if to say fine son
Have 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.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Reviewed (11.21.07) by Dan Bolles
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 (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 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.
Reviewed (12.6.07) for TWO.ONE.FIVE Magazine By Zakariya Willis
I don’t know about you, but even my favorite MC loses me after thirteen tracks, especially when each song is four minutes a piece. So, a sixteen-track album from someone I don’t know is supposed to enrapture my consciousness? The Aztext, a buried deep, underground hip-hop trio from Vermont (yep, that’s what I said), are hitting us up for a second round with their new album. The feisty few from Burlington boast a couple of noteworthy collabo’s: Kansas City killa Mac Lethal spits on "Our Kingdom" which isn’t bad, especially when Mac ends the track with his signature amalgam of witty and humorously surreal lyrics. One Be Lo, the lowly Michigander of former duo Binary Star, offers his pungent form of hip-hop on "Lettin’ You Know," with his adolescent vocals, and visually charming lyrics: "You need an opening act because after me your fans will/ recognize you lack skills/flat wheels/careers stand still in quicksand with anvils." The beats are nothing new in particular, though there is a little 1990s flavor (to me, the best era of rap) with the Tribe Called Quest-like "Keepin’ It Live," produced by Dub Sonata. "All I See" featuring Memms singing on refrain solemnly focuses -- with jazzy guitar -- on the everyday life in ghettos across America: you know, the violence, guns, cold killer kids, blood, blah, blah, blah. I feel bad for not totally getting down with it, but there is that little voice going off in my head saying, "Wait a minute, they’re from Vermont." There is some saving grace, beat wise, with "Lookin’ Out My Window," flaunting a nice sample of Cinematic Orchestra’s "Channel 1 Suite," making it mightily ambient. Other than the tracks that have guest appearances, I cannot distinguish who among the three Aztext members is rapping, which really doesn’t matter, because they just sound like watered down versions of Aesop Rock -- and if you don’t know, that can get boring P.D.Q.