Vermont-based duo The Aztext present â€œEveryday Sunâ€, produced by Rico James and featuring singer/songwriter Xenia Dunford. The duo of Pro and Learic has several albums under their belt (discography) including their 2007 albumÂ The Sacred DocumentÂ featuring Mac Lethal and One Be Lo. The Aztext has collaborated with !llmind & Shuko, Craig G, Wordsworth and Romanian emcee Skilltester Stabbone. Currently, The Aztext are working on their fifth full length EP. â€œThis song is meant to make people feel good,â€ Pro explains. â€œA summer jam meant to warm the soul.â€
How did you guys decide on your group name?
Pro: We brainstormed group names over the phone while Learic was living in Brooklyn and I was living in Rhode Island. Originally, we settled on the name Abbott and Costello because it wouldâ€™ve connected our love of classic comedy and film in with our love of music. We ruled it out because neither of our MC names are Abbott or Costello! A couple days before we re-located to Burlington, Learic called me and said, â€˜I have the name! Before I say it out loud, get out a piece of paper because I want you to see it written firstâ€¦â€™ and proceeded to spell A-Z-T-E-X-T. He followed up,
â€˜Dude, how cool does that look?!â€™ While I was in full agreement, I didnâ€™t understand its meaning right away, and he continued by explaining its dual intention: As MCs, we are â€˜breaking down text from A to Zâ€™ and we use our music to document our life â€˜as textâ€™. Needless to say, I was in full agreement with its look as well as its meaning. Full credit to Learic on the name.
What made you guys decide to become emcees?
Learic: I fell in love with hip-hop at the age of ten, growing up in D.C., where it was on the radio everywhere you went. The station I listened to was WPGC, and I remember the first time I heard â€œO.P.P.â€ by Naughty By Nature, I couldnâ€™t get it out of my head. Then I started seeing the video on The Box, and I decided to take my allowance and walk to Sam Goody down the street. I brought the tape home, popped it in, and when I heard the first track — â€œYoke the Jokerâ€ — I was amazed by the beat and Treachâ€™s flow and lyrics. I listened to the whole album and began to study it.
This led to buying other albums on cassette (3rd Bass – Derelicts of Dialect, Chubb Rock â€“ The One, and LL Cool J â€“ Mama Said Knock You Out were the next three I bought). From there, hip-hop music began to dominate my brainwaves. My family decided to move to Vermont when I turned 12, and it was a little harder to find friends that loved hip-hop as much as I did. There was one kid in my class who had just moved from Virginia, and we instantly became best friends, listening to Das Efx, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy — anything we could get our hands on.
â€œHey, we heard your songs. Sounded really good,â€ and other such comments. This is what gave me the idea that I could do this for real. From there, I worked every day on getting better, and eventually recorded my first solo album, on industry beats, recorded in my bedroom.
But it was raw and inspired by so many different MCâ€™s I listened to, and I sold 50 copies at school over the next week. I eventually formed a group with a fellow classmate and good friend, and from our first official show, began to take being an MC seriously.
Pro: I grew up in Montreal and used to watch Rap City on MuchMusic religiously (different from the US version of Rap City). I connected with the beats side of hip hop before I did the rhymes, possibly because as 8 and 9 years old, I didnâ€™t understand all of the slang and occasionally had to memorize part of certain verses phonetically. Somehow, I made sense of it all because groups like Das EFX had actual phonetic slang.
I wanted to become an MC for the story-telling. Tracks like â€œReneeâ€ & â€œOne Loveâ€ seemed like such a powerful way to cope with tough situations. And tracks like â€œI Used to Love H.E.R.â€ and â€œI Gave You Powerâ€ were so fascinating (and still are) in terms of their stunning double entendre. I wanted an outlet to tell my story and channel my creativity.
Whatâ€™s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
Pro: Iâ€™m not sure if it was the first rap song I ever heard, but I do remember the first rap song I ever memorized in full, which was House of Painâ€™s â€œJump Aroundâ€. I was visiting my cousins in upstate New York, and they had just bought the House of Pain tape. I probably listened to â€œJump Aroundâ€ 50 times that weekend! There was something about that patented Muggsâ€™ scream and those drums that I immediately connected with â€“ and then when I heard the anger and toughness of Everlastâ€™s voiceâ€¦ I was hooked. That weekend, I walked around spitting each verse acapella trying to match his intensity.
Learic: The first rap song I remember hearing was â€œO.P.P.â€ by Naughty By Nature. I was sitting in my bedroom on a hot summer day in D.C., and I turned on the radio, to hear something so different from anything Iâ€™d ever been exposed to. My dad used to play records by Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, and J. Geils Band when I was a kid, and my mom would play classical music and Joan Baez, so thatâ€™s pretty much what I knew at that age.
However, when I heard Kay Geeâ€™s instrumental, and how good it made me feel, and heard the precise nature of Treachâ€™s flow, and the cadence of his voice, and how it sounded on the beat (it seemed to have a melody of its own), I was instantly hooked. I was intrigued by Treachâ€™s storytelling ability, and how he could make me see an entire movie in my mind with just words and rhythm. This moment is what started me on my journey to consume as much hip-hop music as I could.
How did â€œEveryday Sunâ€ come together?
Learic: The way â€˜Everyday Sunâ€™ came together started with Rico James sending us beats for a new album we were talking about making. We hadnâ€™t really started the process yet, and we got together early one day to listen to beats and try to write a song. It was really early, like sunrise early, probably around 6 AM. We both had to work later that morning, so we wanted to get in a session beforehand. When we listened to the instrumental that would eventually become â€˜Everyday Sunâ€™, we were instantly hooked. The horns, and the unique nature of the swing of it, got us thinking about how we wanted to approach it. Pro ended up saying, spontaneously, â€œThis beat is like a sunrise.â€ I was like, â€œWhatâ€™d you just say?â€ â€œThis beat reminds me of a sunrise,â€ he replied. We realized thatâ€™s how he should start his verse, but with the more direct metaphorical statement,
â€œThis beat is a sunrise.â€ That set up his whole rhyme scheme for the verse. Then we thought my verse should start with the opposite sentiment, â€œThis beat is a sunset.â€ And that set my whole verseâ€™s rhyme scheme in motion. The song came together that day and we knew we had something special on our hands. We had an idea of what we wanted for a hook, but nothing concrete, and after throwing around ideas of who should sing it, we found ourselves at a local bar, where an immensely talented singer/songwriter was playing a set.
I knew her, but Pro didnâ€™t, and he asked me, â€œWho is that?â€ â€œXenia Dunford,â€ I told him. â€œYou know her?â€ he asked. I nodded affirmatively. We listened for a little bit more, and in an inspirational moment, collectively realized that she was the one who should sing the hook for the song.
We reached out to her, and she was interested in working with us, so we asked if sheâ€™d be interested in writing the chorus as well. What she sent back to us pretty soon after was the basis for what ended up being the final hook. We were so thankful that it all came together the way it did, and with the right people.
What are your predictions for 2018?
Learic: My only prediction is that some will continue to focus on the negative and some will continue to focus on the positive, and that the positive people win out.
Pro: I predict one of Evidence or Royce will win a Grammy.