Underrated is a word that gets tossed around much too casually in modern society, particularly when it pertains to music and entertainment. Still, it seems to fit Termanology, the Massachusetts-by-way-of-New York MC who finally gets a chance to have some of the spotlight for himself on his first official solo album, Politics As Usual.
Term isn’t exactly an unknown quantity, with numerous street records and a series of guest appearances under his belt. Last time we heard from him, he gathered a high-powered list of collaborators (including Styles P, Q-Tip and Talib Kweli among many others) for his Da Cameo King mixtape, but this time around he gets the mic mostly to himself.
That’s not a bad thing, as he comes out firing on the very first track, “Watch How It Go Down”, delivering rapid fire rhymes over the first of three DJ Premier beats. His flow is very much classic NYC, showing off the ability to switch tempos while sprinkling in more than a few clever punchlines. The late Big Pun seems like a big influence, and Term gives him multiple shout outs.
He’s also versatile, so when he boasts on “Respect My Walk” that “I’ll do the R&B shit or the killa shit,” he’s not lying. Just because he can do different styles doesn’t mean he should though, as songs like “Please Don’t Go” that have a little more radio-friendly vibe are among the album’s weaker moments.
Fortunately, those moments are few, as Premier and Nottz give Termanology mostly rugged sounding beats to work with. Large Professor, Pete Rock and Buckwild also contribute one track each, creating something of a late 90s East Coast all-star team on the boards.
On the album’s strongest cut, “How We Rock,” Termanology sums up his formula by stating, “My pain is reality, gripping this mic/After me, other rappers don’t sound that tight.” That may be pushing it a bit, as to borrow another cliché, Politics As Usual is no game changer. It is a solid dose of straightforward hip hop, and lord knows the rap game can never have too much of that. – Nick Tylwalk
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