"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Termanology - Politics As Usual: Review

Luckily, Jay did not show up to the proceedings...

In the long, long ago, in the forgotten times, before the dark years of G-Unit and the rule of the Bucktoothed One, there once was a magical, mysterious land known as the east coast mixtape scene. Perhaps, you know it. In this land, there were literally billions and billions of young, hungry semi-talented rappers standing on the corners of Virgin Record stores, hawking their wares to annoyed pedestrians, all claiming to be the heirs of the forgotten kings of the past and all sounding vaguely yet distinctively similar with their verbose flows, complex deliveries, and monotonous, endlessly insipid punchlines about selling drugs. It was a time of great joy as the future looked bright and shiny.

The elite of the masses were scooped up by the major labels of the period and promised prosperity beyond their wildest dreams. Fame and fortune certainly seemed to be on the horizon of these would-be conquerors of music but troubled times lay ahead. The heinous evil known as Southern rap soon began to dominate the charts and the labels forgot about these promising rappers. Few released albums. Saigon signed with Just Blaze but became a victim to Just’s insatiable desire to sit on his ass and play video games. Papoose signed with Jive and soon learned that yes, the crackers don’t play ‘em fair. Joell Ortiz signed with Dr. Dre and soon learned that Dre rampantly does not give a fuck, anymore. Those that did release an album like Cassidy and Fabolous quickly learned that (they were the same damn rapper) lame punchlines and half-assed R. Kelly guest appearances are not the formula for success. Not with Lloyd Banks freely stealing their gimmick and making shitty records with it on G-Unit. The world slowly passed these men by and soon record labels became focused on ruining the careers of hipster rappers and other assorted flash in the pans. The few that survived went to Koch were doomed to work with Sheek Louch and rap over the corpse of 9th Wonder’s beats for the rest of eternity. Clearly, it was a time of great despair and hope was something that dared not bear it’s head.

Boston’s Termanology has managed to break this self-defeating cycle and his debut album, “Politics As Usual”, is really, really good. “Politics As Usual” is a ‘90s East Coast throwback album in the truest sense. It has that classic jazzy but gritty New York sound and intricate rapping that made East Coast rap the greatest brand of hip hop ever. That in itself isn’t necessarily enough to make an east coast rap worth a damn these days. There are plenty of vaguely generic, east coast hardcore rap albums being released these days but they all sound like an approximate of what the scene used to sound like. Producers like Statik Selektah, Jake One, 9th Wonder, and Marco Polo have all been attempting to capture the classic New York sound for years now and while in their defense, they have come up with some memorable beats some of the times, the music they make just sounds forced at times It’s a little too clean, the chopped samples are little too precise, and the vibe just seems a little off. What sets Term’s album apart is that the album sounds authentically ‘90s and that is no little part due to the production line-up. Termanology has got the production line-up that Nas should have been working for years. The creme de la creme, the fuckin’ elite of classic east coast rap production is all here! DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Easy Mo Bee, Buckwild, Havoc, The Alchemist, and Hi-Tek all show up on this record and turn out records that clearly were produced in ‘98 because none of them have sounded this good in years. Most surprising is Primo who hasn’t turned a memorable beat since at least ‘01 demolishes his three productions on the album (“Watch How It Goes Down”, “So Amazing”, “How We Rock”). “Watch How It Goes Down”, the album’s heart stopping opener, may in fact be the best beat Primo has produced since “Moment Of Truth” and for Term’s part, he absolutely couldn’t have used the beat better. The song is fierce and thrilling in ways that you forgot good east coast rap scene. I can’t really understate how amazing that song is.

And while the production is what’s really distinctive about this album, it’s not like Termanology is a slouch on the mic. For his part, Term has a wicked flow and while at times, his writing falls clearly within some of the cliches of New York rap as he dwells too often on a generic sense of the struggle, tales of drug dealing and crime life, Term is more than a capable rapper and when he wants to be, his delivery and energy more than makes up for it. I wish in some sense, he would escape some of modes of hardcore rap because if he does, this album could have been REALLY something special.

While the album is quite strong and doesn’t have any joints that really stick out as bad, the three songs produced by Nottz (“Please Don’t Go”, “Float”, and “Drugs, Crime & Gorillaz”) all feel a little too G-Unity for my tastes and could have all pretty much left on the cutting room floor with nary a complaint from me. They’re not bad tracks per se but they sound out of place on album that sounds authentically throwback and take away some of the vibe.

If we are to rate, the success of the elite of the ‘00s New York mixtape scene that the leaders of this movement has thus far. We would have to give Saigon a C plus for failing to release an album but releasing some half decent singles, Joell Ortiz, a solid B for his album “The Brick” but also for getting dropped from Aftermath, fuckin’ Papoose gets a G minus (and that's perhaps being too light on that clown shoes) for doing everything possible to ruin any faith that the man is capable of not sounding like a bad Big L rip-off (the somewhat underrated and unfairly critically maligned verse on the “Touch It (Remix)” aside), and Termanology gets an A minus for releasing an actual real-life album that lives up to the hype. If this album proves anything, it’s still possible to make a damn good album with the people that made the Bible. (Nasir, for the love of god, calls these people now!!!) One question remains though... Who the fuck is Terma fuckin’ nology blowing that got all these men to produce his album?!?!

33 comments:

GorapsGO said...

I think Termanology was signed to Premiers label ifI'm not mistaken. I read a Premier interview that had him praising termanology hard. So it makes sense that he would save him his best beats.

I really want to hear this album actually, going to have to search for a link. Unless someone wants to oint me in the right diretion:)

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"heinous evil known as Southern rap soon began to dominate the charts and the labels forgot about these promising rappers"

or some of these assholes had nothing interesting to say, nor did they have interesting ways of saying things.

as someone who now finds himself calling boston home, this guy has somewhat of a following from what i can tell. of course, this town has no real rap scene, so i don't know whether a fanbase here is worth a shit. he needs to learn how to be concise, the only way to describe my man is loquacious. and the pun/bun quoting is... eh.

personally, i am glad nas does not work with the exact same producers as illmatic. it would have gotten old by '98.

"how we rock" would be great for UGK 4 Life. this is why swagger is important, contrary to what weiss may say.

Anonymous said...

None of them had anything interesting to say, who is a new york mixtape rapper that has released anything worthwhile in the last 10 years? The way this sounds its like Termanology has nothing to say either, as he is basically hardcore guns and drugs new york rap. Said so yourself in the review, your basically just having an orgasm about the people who made the beats.

DocZeus said...

"None of them had anything interesting to say, who is a new york mixtape rapper that has released anything worthwhile in the last 10 years?"

Nobody anywhere has had anything interesting to say the last 10 years. The South just got affirmative action from critics.

Jesus-

I think his verbosity is kind of Term's charm. At least, he stays on beat which is more than I can say for Papoose.

tray said...

Oh yeah, Pap's verse was so unfairly maligned. A picture of his martian-looking ass is in the dictionary next to off-beat. As for Term, I know nothing about this guy other than that he got demolished by Bun on his own shit, and this comes at a time when Bun isn't very good anymore.

JK said...

I don't concur on this one. I like 6 songs on this album 1,2,3,4,7,13 (for those that got the CD).

I think the Nottz and Pete Rock contributions sounded off. And Termanology has two things that get tiring for me: 1)The little whisper flow he does and 2)His topic choice is stale.

The content is a throwback to that mixtape era in the east because he talks that street shit but doesn't make it captivating.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"Nobody anywhere has had anything interesting to say the last 10 years."

why review rap albums from the past six months, then? surely, someone has an idea worth being heard.

gorapsgo said...

From the critics?
If anyone has been actually liking the south its been either southern people, or mainstream rap people, I really don't see the critics giving them a pass, they have been as hard on the south as anyone.
Unless i completely misunderstood what you said. Which of course, I really might have.

DocZeus said...

"Oh yeah, Pap's verse was so unfairly maligned. A picture of his martian-looking ass is in the dictionary next to off-beat. As for Term, I know nothing about this guy other than that he got demolished by Bun on his own shit, and this comes at a time when Bun isn't very good anymore."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jLRiCyEvi4

Tell me I'm wrong.

Trey Stone said...

can't say i have much interest in this, but i agree with shuttleworth on Nas. to me, him working with bad producers now isn't a sign he should go back to strictly the Illmatic lineup, but that he should find better new talent that works with his style.

JK said...

This is a little off topic but since most of us have blogs and are knowledgeable about hip hop, why not work together in some capacity to help each other out with what we're trying to do online? What yall think?

Nah Right and them have their New Music Cartel ish. Why not do something similar for the blogs that write coherently and don't report the news, rumors and dumb ass youtube videos.

If their is interest, I could make a page with my zenbe.com account for us to discuss what we could do. If you're down, hit me up: thejk@zenbe.com

DocZeus said...

"If anyone has been actually liking the south its been either southern people, or mainstream rap people, I really don't see the critics giving them a pass, they have been as hard on the south as anyone."

Well, a certain subset of critics. Not my breed, the tradtionalist crowd, who are ridiculously hard on Southern rap but the Pitchfork set who seem to have hard on for Southern accents.

"why review rap albums from the past six months, then? surely, someone has an idea worth being heard."

I'm being a bit sarcastic. The vast majority of most artists everywhere don't really have a hell of lot of new to say. It's how they say it that's interesting. And there's a whole breed of new rappers that I love, hipster rappers, that haven't released full-length albums that really are the truth.

I try to write reviews on whether or not I enjoyed the album or not first and foremost and I really enjoyed this album more than I've enjoyed most albums this year. Which is why I gave Jeezy a positive review and why I gave T.I. a negative.

DocZeus said...

JK-

Your idea is actually in the works, already. I can't say anything yet but stay tuned.

JK said...

Dope man. I'll be on the lookout

tray said...

Haha, Premo has always been so awkward in videos. What's with this kid going, "out here on these streets, all we've got is full clips, dirty chicks, and niggas who snitch," and Premo just nods his head and says, "that's what's up!" Why is that what's up? But as far as the song goes.... it's a good beat. The rapper's kind of laughable. Vocally he sounds like a prepubescent Tru Life.

DocZeus said...

Well, yeah. The video does look something that would be done on the White Rapper Show but all extremely, low budget videos look that way and Termanology should absolutely never try to look tough in a video. You're 5'6", 120 pounds. You ain't threatening nobody.

tray said...

I mean, Eazy looked tough.

DocZeus said...

"I mean, Eazy looked tough."

So did Dre.

http://kidsnpets.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/2007-03-31t12_05_34-07_00.jpg

tray said...

See, that's my point. It's not that Termie isn't big enough to act tough in videos, he just lacks, you know, swagger like us bloggers.

DocZeus said...

"See, that's my point. It's not that Termie isn't big enough to act tough in videos, he just lacks, you know, swagger like us bloggers."

Eh maybe but swagger is kind of overrated.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

so is being verbose.

DocZeus said...

I don't think anybody has ever said being verbose is necessarily a good thing.

Anonymous said...

lmao @ Tray's comment. That shit is so true about Premo's response to Term's "nizzles that snitch", and then Preme's like "thats whats up". That shit had me rollin on the ground. Most random response to a serious comment.

MCH said...

"Most surprising is Primo who hasn’t turned a memorable beat since at least ‘01"

AZ's THE FORMAT (2006) is one of Primo's top 5 best beats ever IMO.

DocZeus said...

"AZ's THE FORMAT (2006) is one of Primo's top 5 best beats ever IMO."

I stand corrected I really like that beat, as well. Funny. You gotta wonder if Primo accidently stumbled onto a fault of beats he produced in the '90s or something in '06 because he produced a couple of good songs that year. "Watch How It Goes Down" and "So Amazing" were intially released in '06.

Badmon3333 said...

DAMN, this album is good. Premier's beat for "How We Rock" has me breakin' my beck nodding like it's 1994 and shit.

Term could benefit from taking a step or two away from the NYC street cliches, but fuckit, how can I complain?

Badmon3333 said...

Top 5 Primo Beats (in no particular order):

• "Come Clean," Jeru - I know this one gets knocked as everyone's favorite, but there's a REASON.
• "Downtown Swinga '96," M.O.P.
• "Me or the Papes," Jeru
•  "M.U.G.," O.C. & Freddie Foxxx

Really, though, I like him too much to just do five. His work from 'Reasonable Doubt,' tons of stuff from Jeru's 'Wrath of the Math' or MOP's 'Firing Squad' or particularly O.C.'s 'Jewelz,' which I maintain is still the No. 1 Slept-On Mid-'90s East Coast Hip-Hop Record (though that could be a long list...).

Dart Adams said...

The reason that Term could get all of these people down with his album is because he's from Lawrence, MA, home of legendary emcees like Scientifik (R.I.P), Reks and Krumbsnatcha. Krumbsnatcha is part of Gang Starr Foundation which has a direct link to DJ Premier. On the other side one of Term's mentors is Statik Selektah who has connections all over the place. Add to that Term's managed by Dan Green and this means that they can easily get Premier, Nottz, Pete Rock and Havoc (who's spent quite a lot of time in Boston over the past 15 years) to work on his project.

You know I'd know, right?

One.

tray said...

You were kidding when you called Reks legendary, right? Just because Premo, in his old, senile age gives you a beat doesn't make you a good rapper. Actually it's probably more like the opposite.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

since i am new to the area, can someone tell me the boston area mc's (if any) to check for? sitting in my apartment listening to records b/c there is nothing in my area is getting old.

gorapsgo said...

Benzino!!!! Hes from Boston no? Check out some bezino tracks, he spits hot fire:)

Marcus said...

I just noticed that you never did Part 3 on your 2007 hateoff

DocZeus said...

"I just noticed that you never did Part 3 on your 2007 hateoff"

Yeah, I sort of got really busy and never got the chance to do one and then it got too late to matter. It was basically going to be my opinion on the best/worst videos, verses, stories of the year, etc.