To call Termanology & DC traditionalists is to say Pat Robertson is religious; it doesn’t quite cover it. The Bostonians wax old school so hard on their aptly named debut, Out The Gate, it borders on fetishism. How this devotion registers with a mass audience, or even an increasingly selective indie crowd, depends greatly on the listener’s stand on the state of Hip Hop today. There is certainly an outcry against the apparent ignorance of mainstream rappers to their predecessors, just as another side maintains the only path to progress is to leave the past behind.
Termanology latches on to the old days for ammo and inspiration. Yes, he falls sharply into the Today’s-Rappers-Don’t-Know-Nothin’ category, but in fairness he makes a strong argument. The album kicks off with a woozy jazz beat on “This is Hip Hop,” under Termanology’s reminiscence of growing up with Dre and Snoop, Marley Marl, and crack, setting the stage for over an hour’s worth of rap luminary shout-outs in the vein of Game’s West Coast obsessions on The Documentary, for which he endured heavy backlash.
Hip Hop stars are only the supporting players in the memory of Termanology’s life thus far. The star, as it must be, is Term himself and a bulk of the album is devoted to obsessively covering every highlight and lowlight of his first twenty-two years. Beginning with the Premiere-esque bombast of “Motion Picture,” in which Termanology compares his story to cult faves of the past (Put your hands on anybody that I’m rappin’ wit/You can play Pacino and I’ll play the Devil’s Advocate) and Mark Romanek’s video for “99 Problems,” throughout the warm piano-clinking “22 Years,” the nostalgic strings of “When We Were Kids,” featuring the ever-dependable fellow Boston cat Akrobatik, and on to the dark, uncomfortable “My Life,” Out The Gate becomes an almost shockingly confessional album, but one that wears a bit thin toward the end, as any biopic must. DC The MIDI Alien, the album-length producer here, helps his emcee finish strong with the climactic “Ready,” a track at once cinematic and uplifting, (it could have been a great capper to the Rocky ending of Em’s own flick), but cuts like the requisite, tired fam song, “Mommy, Daddy, Grandma,” and the breathy, timid flow on “Ain’t Fuckin’ With This,” tend to undermine the precending strong points. Termanology resides firmly in an underground market infamous for its frenetic output, and there is simply no creative reason for epic, 20-track albums any longer.
There have been many rumors swirling around Termanology since his Unsigned Hype look in The Source, but none make more sense than the Shady/Aftermath talks. His closet-cleaning style, not to mention a DJ Premier endorsement, bring to mind the young bleached rapper that shocked and awed on his debut six years ago. At the time, we weren’t even sure we wanted to hear everything Eminem had to tell us, and while Termanology’s lyrical dexterity is not his greatest asset, he paints a vivid picture that can be equally uneasy. It may not be brash and gutter like 50′s brushwork, or contain the witty poetry of an AceyAlone, but at the very least, Termanology & DC have made a contribution that begs another, more serious, look at the once satirical “mean streets of Boston.”
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