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Haven't You Heard?
The Aztext
AZT Records

our score: 4 out of 5

Haven't You Heard?
by: Tim Wardyn

When you look for a good rap album, the majority doesn't normally look for a duo from Vermont that's named after a civilization that was eradicated over four centuries ago by the Spaniards down in Mexico. But that is exactly what you should be looking for. The Aztext pack fifteen tracks full of their struggles, triumphs and political agendas to make "Haven't You Heard?" the indie rap album of the year so far. It is strange listening to a two guys from Burlington, Vermont talking about the streets. It's like listening to Dr. Dre covering Barry Manilow, but it works out surprisingly well.

"It's True" the opening track (after the typical intro) interpolates a smooth jazzy beat and the silky vocals of Memms to instantly set them apart from the ho and dough rap that permeates radio and introduces Pro and Learic as two guys who are trying to make it big and hoping that kids will "hang posters of mine." If this is any indication, The Aztext could just make it huge. "Cooler than a frostbite/ Warmer than a hot night" from "Breakthru" is just one of the lines that the Aztext spit back and forth. The Aztext feed each other lines better than almost any duo this side of Eric B. and Rakim.

They also have an agenda. Help out the kids and screw George W. Bush. "Learn to read/ Learn to write/ Learn to talk" is repeated in the chorus of "Learn to Talk" where Pro and Learic chronicle their beginnings in Vermont and trying to break into the rap world dominated by "street rappers from NYC."

The anti-Bush rant is much more biting. On "You Is You," they go off on Bush and the Iraq war: "We got a crisis in the making/ Lots of lives are being taken/ I'm sorry the president had to return early from his vacation/ Where were you when they needed you?/ Oh, you can send 18-year-olds to Iraq to get killed/ But you can't protect your own red, white and blue," and his handling of the hurricanes down south: "Now two hurricanes have left the south stranded/ It's outlandish/ There's thousands of people with wounds that we can't manage."

"Haven't You Heard?" is a stunning debut from two talented guys from Vermont. It's filled with strings and brass interlaced with timeless beats and unforgettable lines. If The Aztext don't catch on, then it will be further proof that popular music is not gauged on talent. I hope they prove me wrong.