Massachusetts has a reputation for producing certain things -- clam chowder, wicked ahsome accents, an annoying football dynasty -- but "Talented Rapper" isn’t exactly high on that list. Termanology, a product of Lawrence, MA, is doing his best to change that.
Every bit as lyrical as his name would suggest, Term rocketed into rap relevancy behind the strength of his Hood Politics mixtape series, a collection of boom-bap and synth tracks displaying a genuinely impressive 90’s East Coast form of expressive rap not heard since, well, the '90s. With a co-sign from The Source and XXL as the next big thing, Term is (finally) set to release to his debut LP, Politics As Usual, on September 30.
Now, nearly every other interview with Term has focused on three things: a) How he got hooked up with DJ Premier (essentially, Statik Selektah co-signed for him); b) The reason it took so long for his debut to finally see daylight (because the record business is shady); and c) Why he titled his mixtape series Hood Politics (because he actually follows politics very closely -– he’s voting for Obama, by the way). So, we hit him with some uncommon questions. We got some time in with Term to discuss why you won't hear him drop the N-bomb on a song, the advice his mother gave him on hip-hop, and the worst collaboration he's ever done.
So when you first started rapping, before anyone really knew who you were, what was the reception? Where people like, "Dude, shouldn’t you be breakdancing or something?"Termanology: [laughs] It’s crazy, you know, cause I’ve been rapping for a long time, but sometimes people look at me like, “Alright, he doesn't really know how to rap.” But to me, I’ve been doing this forever, I’m used to it. But I think that shit has changed as hip-hop changed.
You’re from Massachusetts, right?Yeah.
Listening to you though, it seems like you’ve adopted the whole New York accent and vernacular and swag; you’ve got that whole vibe going. But one thing we never hear on your tracks is the word, "n*gga." Is that by effort, or is that just not a part of your daily vocabulary?It’s actually, like, a humongous part of my vocabulary, but what happens is, I’m from a place where it's like 90-something percent Hispanic community. It's very similar to the Bronx. Everybody is just like, "What up, my n*gga? What's good, n*gga? I’m chillin', n*gga. I’m good, n*gga." You know what I mean? Everybody says it all day. It’s never in a racist way, that’s just the way we were raised. It’s funny, everybody in my family, from older aunts to the young ones are like, "What up, n*gga?" It wasn’t until I went down South that I was like, "Wow, these people take this word very seriously." It’s nothing like up north. Up north it’s like saying, "What up, my friend?" So that’s kinda why I broke away from saying it, because people are still kind of offended by it. But, you know, I’m Puerto Rican, so I can pretty much say it like a black guy.
Yeah, that's exactly the same.[laughs] Yeah, it’s never in a bad way, you know.
Of course.I just wanted to move away from that because I know how it is. And the less type of that stuff you got the easier it is to get on the radio.
Or you could just make a really sh*tty song. That seems to be a good way to get on the radio. Does it piss you off that people automatically compare you to Big Pun just because you’re Puerto Rican?It doesn't piss me off, it's more like an honor but, you know, it does get annoying that you gotta hear the same exact thing every time you talk to somebody. It's a little weird, but it is something I kinda brought on myself because on my first single I called myself a resurrection of Pun.
Who are some rappers that you would compare yourself to then?Ah, you know, I really do think I'm one of a kind, even though I know everyone says that. But really, you can't find another rapper that’s white and Puerto Rican, you can't even name one.
Not a good one at least.Yeah.
One thing we were curious about was, we saw an interview where you were talking about your mother's influence on your music and you said –- and this is a direct quote from you -- "Yo, if you're gonna be a rapper don't just be talking 'bout b**ches and hoes and blunts and 40s. Say something." Now, is that actually what she said verbatim? Does she really talk like that, because that would be badass.Yeah, my mom's from the projects, you know what I'm saying. She's more hood than me. She came up in the '70s and '80s when there wasn’t no CSI so people were just getting murdered right in front of you. My dad moved from Puerto Rico to America when he was two. My mom is white, but she's ghetto white, and if you know anything about ghetto white you know it's almost more Spanish or Black, you know. Even though that sounds kinda weird I think you know exactly what I mean. But yeah, that was an exact quote from her.
So you’ve done a ton of collaborations –- "Welcome To The Machine" is our personal favorite, by the way. Which is your favorite of all the collaborations that you’ve done?Ah, man, there’s a bunch. Uh… I don’t even know. The Bun B one ["How We Rock"] and the Styles P and Q-Tip one ["Stop, Look, and Listen"] are up there. Those are some of my favorites right now. But yeah, I love "Welcome To The Machine." I got a lot of love from that one.
Yeah, dude, any rapper that samples Pink Floyd is aces in our book. So, if we look at this Unbreakable style, everything needs an opposite to exist: white needs black, dark needs light, pretty needs Gucci Mane, and best needs worst. Who’s the worst person you’ve ever worked with?[laughs] Ah… next question. [laughs]
Come on, man. They can’t all be good. Everyone’s slept with a fat chick at one point. Which collaboration was the worst? Give us something.Let's just say, some of your favorite rappers are some b**ches to work with.
Termanology’s debut LP, Politics As Usual, will be available Sept. 30, 2008. Grab a free download of his mixtape Cameo King at Universoulproductions.