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The Immersion: Termanology, “Politics as Usual” & Beantown PridePosted by Dharmic X on 09/13/12 | Filed under Opinion, The Immersion, Termanology
There were hints of an underground Boston scene even from the beginning of my journey. In eighth grade, there was a kid from South Boston in my class aspiring to become a rap star. I bought his demo CD for ten dollars and actually gave it a listen. The mixing was terrible, the hooks sounded lame, and the rapping itself was cliche. But what else was to be expected from a fourteen year-old kid who called himself Young Clove? That said, the rapper, who now goes by Darcy, has come a long way in six years, finding a lane for himself in which he thrives. Part of a group called Double Vision, he has a fan base, and while not my style of hip-hop, the music is decent.
In ninth grade, the buzz surrounding my Latin class was that our insane, eccentric teacher had a son who had become a rapper. More astounding was the fact that this same rapper had married the sister of a kid in my class. The rapper’s name was Slaine, and at the time (before the first La Coka Nostra album) I didn’t listen to his material. Although I was curious, the music just wasn’t readily available. Besides, taking one look at Slaine’s father and his bizarre classroom antics, I didn’t know what to expect.
My first exposure to Boston hip-hop came one year later, but to label Termanology as a Boston MC is to make a significant geographical misnomer--at least to native Bostonians.
Boston is Massachusetts’s largest city and also its capital. As a result, it often has the ability to swallow up the rest of the state, especially when the state is being referred to by out-of-towners. This causes people from the suburbs of Massachusetts to introduce themselves as from Boston, even when their exposure to this city of racial and cultural complexity is as minimal as a Red Sox game or spending New Year’s Eve on the Boston Common.
So yes, Termanology is from the suburb of Lawrence, and not Boston itself. But Lawrence is not a stereotypical suburb. Over thirty-four percent of Lawrence’s population live below the poverty line, and 73.8% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. Nobody can scoff at Term’s narrative involving the harsh streets of his hometown, because Lawrence is not Wayland, the home of supposed “Boston Boy” rapper Sammy Adams, where only 2.5 % of the population is below the poverty line and over 92% of the population is white.
“How We Rock” was the first single off Term’s debut album, "Politics as Usual, and was actually the second DJ Premier beat he had rocked over. It was the Bun B feature that caught my attention, and while his verses are dope, with a buttery smooth flow and grounded tough talk (“I wish they would show they face in the ghetto, we put ‘em in a deep dark place in the ghatto”), I was very impressed by the blistery rapid-fire performance of the Lawtown MC. The display was dizzying, and the style served as a perfect counterpoint to Bun’s delivery, making the song better as a collaboration instead of as a solo joint. The beat of course is an instant head-nodder like any Primo beat, and yet at the same time it’s very different, almost left-field with the cymbals crashing in the backdrop throughout.
“How We Rock” grabbed my attention and essentially put me onto Termanology. "Politics as Usual" is an incredible debut project, featuring a who’s-who cast of producers (Primo, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Havoc, Easy Moe Bee, Alchemist, Nottz, Hi-Tek, and Buckwild) to create a sonic masterpiece for Term to flow over, and he did that masterfully throughout.
Termanology was an important MC for me to discover for two reasons. Firstly, he was the introduction into Boston’s rich hip-hop history. But secondly, and more importantly, listening to Term finally cemented in my mind that underground hip-hop was a rich source of dope music, perhaps deeper and more enriching than the mainstream scene. The thought had definitely begun to form upon finding an artist that inspired me on so many levels like Immortal Technique, but after finding yet another incredible underdog artist, I had now reached a point of no return...
(DJ Dharmic X is the host of This Culture Never Dies, 11PM-1AM Saturday on wnyu.org. Fans and haters, can follow him on Twitter and check him out on Facebook.)
See Also: The Immersion: Going on a Death March With Immortal Technique