Termanology – Politics As Usual [Review]

Termanology - Politics As Usual

It was two years ago when I heard a song titled “Watch How It Go Down” and heard the lyrics “Rapper that’s lyrical slash Latin/Political passed rappin’/With visuals past Malcolm/And fittin’ to go past platinum”. That was my introduction to an emcee from Lawrence, MA named Termanology. I didn’t know much about Termanology then but from what I heard he was one that I would be looking out for. The next year I just happened to come across a video on YouTube for his song “So Amazing” and after watching it I was hooked. The black and white video featuring Termanology as well as DJ Premier (my all-time favorite producer) was all that I needed to see to come to the conclusion that Termanology was an artist that I would support. Come 2008 I got the word that Termanology was releasing his debut album entitled Politics As Usual. Based on the two singles that I had heard from him I was figuring this to be a classic album. Once I heard his latest released single “How We Rock” and checked out the ill video I marked September 30 on my calendar. With the likes of DJ Premier backing you how could you go wrong as an artist? With Politics As Usual does Termanology deliver a groundbreaking debut or lackluster introduction…Let’s check it out and see!

1. It’s Time
Produced by Easy Mo Bee
On this Intro track we get some nice, simple production work from producing legend Easy Mo Bee with Termanology simply stating “It’s time…Termanology…Politics As Usual” to give the listeners an introduction of what’s to come. Now Easy Mo Bee is know for delivering some classic beats such as “Warning” (The Notorious B.I.G.), “Flava In Ya Ear” (Craig Mack), and “Temptations” (2Pac), so when I first saw his name as a producer on the album I was expecting great things. The two-bar loop for the beat is cool for the type of track that it is, but I would have loved to hear Termanology do an entire song over an Easy Mo Bee beat. This Intro track is decent to get things started but let’s get to the meat of the album.

2. Watch How It Go Down
Produced by DJ Premier
Like I said in the introduction to this album review, I was completely blown away when I heard this song for the first time. Termanology comes correct with his lyrics that display his incredible delivery and flow over some crazy production by DJ Premier. This song was quickly deemed classic in the underground scene when it first dropped and it still stands as such some two years later. I recently read an interview in which Termanology stated that he took a month to listen to the beat from Premier before he wrote anything to it as he knew he had to kill it. Well that month was well spent as Termanology murders the beat and officially starts this album off in a great way.

3. Respect My Walk
Produced by Buckwild
When this next song starts off it really sounds like it should have been placed further towards the end of the album. The beat produced by Buckwild has a “finale” type of feel to it and sounds like it could have closed out the album. But nonetheless it doesn’t feel that much out of place and Termanology drops some nice lyrics over the horn-laced beat from Buckwild. Term is basically telling that they need to respect him as an emcee for his skill and ability in comparison to a lot of these other rappers that haven’t put in nearly as much work as he has to get to this point. This is a good track but the album’s energy really drops after the fast paced, hyped track that preceded it.

4. Hood Shit
Featuring Prodigy (of Mobb Deep); Produced by The Alchemist
Alchemist did his thing on the production side of this track, providing Termanology and Prodigy with a menacing backdrop to spread their lyrics over. The beat perfectly suits this song and its theme about the hood and representing it if that’s where you are or from. Termanology and Prodigy spit some good lyrics regarding the topic and make this a real nice track. I can definitely see why Term connected with Prodigy for a feature on this track as it sounds like something that could easily be done by Mobb Deep. This is another good track for the album and a good sign so far in terms of this debut.

5. Float
Produced by Nottz
This song featuring production by Nottz is Termanology’s track dedicated to smoking and lighting up the blow. The beat produced by Nottz has a hypnotic and hazy feel to it that fits well with the song’s topic as Termanology drops some nice lyrics about substance abuse while inviting you to indulge in it with him (probably as you listen to the track). This is a good song but can feel as little sluggish and dragging at times.

6. Please Don’t Go
Produced by Nottz
On this track we have more production by Nottz as Termanology writes a song talking about girls and relationships. This song with the sung chorus sounds like Termanology’s commercial/mainstream attempt as this song carries that feel while listening. The beat produced by Nottz is pretty good but starts to get boring after a while plus Termanology’s slow, sluggish flow doesn’t help much either. In my opinion this is a decent song, probably one that I won’t be listening to that much on the album. I really think that Term could have done without this song on the album but I understand who the song is catered towards and appeal to.

7. How We Rock
Featuring Bun B; Produced by DJ Premier
I remember when I first heard this song on DJ Premier’s Sirius satellite radio show Live From HeadQCourterz and I was immediately hooked. Once I uploaded the song to my iTunes in a course of 2 days I had played the song over 100 times (yeah I was that addicted to this song). DJ Premier’s production on this track is straight classic as he provides a mysterious sounding melody with his signature hard-hitting drums as the foundation. Termanology and Bun B deliver some great lyrics to match an equally great beat and really make this song the best on the album.

8. Drugs, Crime & Gorillaz
Featuring Sheek Louch & Freeway; Produced by Nottz
This is the third song on the album that has featured production by Nottz and out of all of the tracks he produced on this project this is his best one. The menacing beat with a fitting sample makes for the perfect backdrop for all three artists to spit some fierce lyrics. Termanology and Sheek Louch deliver some good lyrics, but I really think Freeway took the show with his verse. The intensity and energy that Freeway delivers his lyrics in connection with his unique vocal tone makes for the best verse out of the three emcees. This is a great song with a similar feel to “Hood Shit” as heard earlier in the album.

9. In The Streets
Featuring Lil’ Fame (of M.O.P.); Produced by Hi-Tek
When I saw that Hi-Tek would be providing some production work on this album I was excited as he’s one of my favorite producers. But when I heard this song I was kind of disappointed by the beat produced by Hi-Tek. Knowing that Hi-Tek has blessed up with classic beats like “The Blast” (Talib Kweli), “1-9-9-9” (Common), and “Runnin’” (The Game), I thought Hi-Tek could have come better than what he did on this track. The production starts to get boring after a while and is sort of bland when know Hi-Tek’s caliber as a producer. In terms of the lyrics on this track Termanology delivers some nice lyrics but I think he is showed up by Lil’ Fame who really brings this track to life with his undeniable energy and force. This is an average track in my opinion and would be considered the weakest on the album or in the range of “Please Don’t Go”.

10. So Amazing
Produced by DJ Premier
After the previous so-so track my ears were pleased to hear this song through the speakers. As previously stated, I thought this track was crazy ill when I first heard it and saw the music video, and I still think it’s just as good as the first time I heard it. This track features more great production work by DJ Premier as Termanology spits some good lyrics and sounds real comfortable over Premo’s beat. Termanology really adds some humor to this track as he does a lot of name-dropping (i.e. The Game) but does it in a comical way with lines like “Puff hear this, take a meeting the next day/I won’t say shit I’ll just tell him to ‘Press Play’/Yo Dre, you should hit me with some beats/I’ll write the whole ‘Detox’ in one week”. When you incorporate some humor in your lines like that the name-dropping doesn’t seem to be as much of an annoyance unlike when The Game does it.

11. Sorry I Lied To You
Produced by Large Professor
Termanology decides to slow things down a bit with this next song produced by Large Professor. This track features some slow and somber production work by Large Pro that allows Termanology to deliver apologetic lyrics to the listeners discussing various things such as the time it took for him to complete his album. I think this is a good track as it shows Termanology’s diversity as an emcee in his ability to make heartfelt tracks within the fast paced and street tracks.

12. We Killin’ Ourselves
Featuring Pete Rock; Produced by Pete Rock
This next track continues in the slow tempo set by the previous track as legendary producer Pete Rock handles the production work on this song. The beat provided by Pete Rock is average and nothing really special or notable from the Soul Brother. But it allows Termanology to spit some conscious lyrics about how we are killing ourselves in this world from various things like unprotected sex, drugs, alcohols, etc. The message presented in this song is definitely one that needs to be heard by everyone as not too many artists are delivering songs dealing with this topic. This song is strictly some real talk for listeners’ ears so really pay attention to the words that are being said in both the verses and chorus.

13. The Chosen (Resurrecting The Game)
Produced by Havoc
This final track on the album features production work by Havoc, who so happens to be a labelmate of Termanology on the Nature Sounds record label. Havoc provides Termanology with a dark sounding beat that sounds decent but gets repetitive after listening for a while. Termanology finishes off the album by telling everybody that he’s the chosen emcee to resurrect the rap game and bring real Hip Hop back on the scene. This is an average song to end of the album with but I still think “Respect My Walk” would have worked better to close the show.

Bottom Line:
With a producers list similar to Nas’ classic album Illmatic in the likes of DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Pete Rock, I was honestly expecting a near classic debut album (not another Illmatic, don’t get it twisted). After 13 tracks, which is a good number of tracks for a debut album, I think the results are an above average debut but not a classic by any means. A majority of the album is good to average tracks with classic songs like “Watch How It Go Down”, “So Amazing”, “How We Rock”, and “Drugs, Crime & Gorillaz”, and only really two tracks that could be considered bad. The adds up to a pretty good debut album in comparison to a lot of other artists’ debuts that I have listened to. Termanology was blessed with an unbelievable cast of producers and featured artists on his debut (not a lot of artists could come close to this kind of lineup for a debut album) and he utilizes it well. While some of the A-list producers provided Termanology with B-list beats, Term holds up well with his lyrics and really brings back a presence to the rap game that was missing in terms of lyricism and talent. This is a good start for Termanology in terms of his debut album, so now we’ll have to see where he’s able to take this and see if he can build off this foundation even more.