|Next Project:||Politics As Usual (9/30)|
|Twitter:||Termanology on Twitter|
Chances are good that you probably aren’t familiar with Termanology’s hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Sensing this himself, the Puerto Rican-American emcee decided to transition his burgeoning rap career from the streets of Lawrence to a larger stage in Boston and then finally to his current city of residence, New York. Considering his debut album, “Politics As Usual,” is set for release later this month, the moves clearly have paid an early dividend.
An underground DJBooth favorite for more than a year, Termanology has used his skills as both a rapper and a businessman to attract some of the best the production field has to offer. The production credits on “Politics As Usual” read like an all-star lineup: The Alchemist, Havoc, Buckwild, Large Professor, and DJ Premier, the last of whom helmed the album’s current single, “How We Rock,” featuring Bun B.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Termanology steps inside the DJBooth to discuss his favorite terminology, why he’s the most hated-on rapper in all of Massachusetts, whether or not he wants the help of a major label in the future, and which Presidential nominee will receive his vote in the November election and why.
Listen to the Interview
Termanology Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, ‘Z,’ doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Massachusetts-bred, New York-based emcee whose brand-new album, Politics As Usual, is set to drop September 30th. His past features inside our DJ Booth have made him and underground favorite, and the independent release of his debut later this month will do nothing to hurt that status. Please welcome Termanology – how you doin’?
Termanology: I’m chillin’, Z – what’s crackin’, man?
DJ Booth: What’s crackin’ is… I need a copy of Politics As Usual in my CD deck.
Termanology: [laughs] Word up. Thank you, man – that’s what it is.
DJ Booth: So, with the stage name Termanology, what are some of your favorite words, phrases, or sayings?
Termanology: “Politics as usual,” that’s one of them. You know, “politics” is one of my favorite words – I incorporate it a lot in my music, I got “hood politics” tattooed on my back. I’ll tell you a funny thing we say, me and all my boys: we tell people, “Rub it on your chest.” Like, if you roll up like, “Yo man, look at my car, it’s so fly!” we’re like, “Word! Rub it on your chest.” In other words, “Yo, f*ck you, f*ck off.” Some kinda funny sh*t we do in my crew.
DJ Booth: When you tattoo “politics” to your back, I know you really mean it; I’m sure otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten that done.
Termanology: Yeah, I only got 5 tattoos, and they all mean something very dearly to me.
DJ Booth: Too many people get tattoos and then you ask them what’s the significance behind ‘em, and they go, “I dunno, they just look cool.”
Termanology: Yeah, that’s weird. [You’re going to] have that on you till you’re 60, till you die, so it’s kinda crazy.
DJ Booth: A lot of press materials, Term, that have been attached to your name and this project include the slogan “true hip-hop.” Do you agree with that label, and would you define your sound as true hip-hop?
Termanology: Yeah, it’s definitely true hip-hop. It sucks that we’ve got to put it in a box because we’re the aliens nowadays, when we’re just doin’ what’s right, we’re just doin’ what hip-hop is supposed to be. But it got to the point where the game’s so twisted that what’s on the radio is absolutely not hip hop, in no way, shape or form. It’s kinda like we’re the aliens now, the true hip-hop heads. It’s kinda corny, that’s all they say, and they’re trying to kinda put it in a box like that, but I’ll take the label if it fits, ‘cause I definitely make sh*t for true heads.
DJ Booth: I was checkin’ out your MySpace page and there’s a quote on there, it says, “Only God can judge me.” Now obviously, in a perfect world, that would be the case, but since everyone always forms an opinion about everything, once this album is available, what do you think the people will be saying?
Termanology: I don’t know, man. I’m sure everybody has their own opinion, I’ve got a lot of haters, people that don’t like me for various reasons, so they’re gonna say, “He’s a b*tch, he’s wack, f*ck him, he’s this, he’s that,” and then you’re gonna have people who are into my music and they love it, and they think I’m the best thing to come in a long time, they’re gonna say I’m the greatest, and I’m the best new cat. You get a little bit of both, and you just take the punches, ‘cause it really don’t matter what they say.
DJ Booth: Thus far, how do you feel like you’ve handled the situations where you’ve had people hate on you?
Termanology: Well, you know, I’m from Massachusetts, and this place is, like, the land of the hate. If you don’t know anything about the Massachusetts hip-hop scene, this place has a big, huge black cloud [over] it. That’s why there have been so many dope rappers to come out of Mass, and none of them actually blew up into national stardom. It’s just too hard out here, know what I’m saying? People are just retarded haters out here. I go through it, man; I’d go so far as to say I’m the most hated rapper in Massachusetts, but that’s just my opinion. I get a lot of hate, but I get a lot of love, too. You just gotta make sure the love overpowers the hate.
DJ Booth: With this debut, you have production from DJ Premier, Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, Alchemist, Havoc, Buck Wild, Nottz, and Large Professor – quite the lineup, I must say. What does that say about your skills, when all of these talented, some legendary producers, want to work with you?
Termanology: It says a lot. That’s why I did it: it was an idea I had in my head, and a lot of people were tellin’ me, “You can’t do it, it’s not going to get done,” and all this, and I was like, “Yeah, right – I’m gonna do it.” So it was a rough one, it was a rough idea, and it was crazy, and it was a long road, took about 2 years. At the end of the day, man, I put it all together properly. It was a blessing to work with those dudes, and an honor. And I got nine producers under my belt, classic, legendary, multi-platinum producers on my first album, and, no matter what, even if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, nobody can take that away from me.
DJ Booth: I hope you don’t get hit by a bus, though.
Termanology: [laughs] Me too, man. You never know, though.
DJ Booth: ‘Cause then you couldn’t be at the release party – that would suck.
Termanology: Word up, that would suck.
DJ Booth: At your New York listening session, a few weeks ago, our event reporter, Erica Lamar, got the chance to speak with you, and during the conversation you were reported as saying, “I went to a lot of big-time labels and showed them that I’m hungry. They told me, ‘You’re nice,’ but walked away without [being signed].” So, do you feel like you’ve been overlooked by major label industry cats?
Termanology: Yeah. I mean, “overlooked” is an understatement, ‘cause I’ve went to the point where they’re like, “Okay, we’re gonna sign you,” and they get me all happy and excited and I’m like, “Oh, word, I did it!” and then they call back a week later like, “Sorry, man. Can’t do it.” That was a tough road for me. It taught me a lot too, though: it taught me how to do something on my own and not rely on anybody.
DJ Booth: When you talked with the labels after your initial meetings, did you say, “What qualities are you looking for in an artist that I don’t seem to possess?”
Termanology: No, because I already know what they’re looking for: they’re lookin’ for T-Pain. [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] And you are certainly no T-Pain, my friend.
Termanology: No, no.
DJ Booth: Do you feel like, at this point in your career, on the horizon of dropping your debut album, signing to a major label is of importance?
Termanology: I don’t know, man. To tell you the truth, I don’t really care about that sh*t at all; I just do my own thing and I’m happy where I’m at. It would be cool, obviously, to take it somewhere dope, like an Aftermath or a Roc-A-Fella or something like that. But at the same time, I already kinda proved that I could do it on my own, so I really don’t need those guys.
DJ Booth: Term, I usually do not like to get into the political talk when I chop it up with artists, but since you put the word “politics” in the title of your album, and it’s tattooed on your back, I can’t resist – can we talk politics for a second?
Termanology: Let’s do it.
DJ Booth: Are you a registered voter?
Termanology: Yeah, I’m a voter. I voted twice already.
DJ Booth: Okay, so let’s say the Presidential election is tomorrow. Who are you going to vote for and why, if you don’t mind disclosing?
Termanology: Oh, man – I’m gonna vote for Obama, of course. That’s just because I was brought up in a Democratic family. I grew up in a poor neighborhood, most of my life I grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts – it’s a small city, predominantly Latino, 90 percent Hispanic, Puerto Rican, and Dominican, and everybody there’s all f*cked up in the game, they’re all poor, and a lot of them are on welfare and whatnot. I’d like to see my people rise and do better, but the sad reality is that, as of right now, everything’s f*cked. I think Obama needs to get up in there and make a nice little change, and hopefully he does – we’re all prayin’ for him over here.
DJ Booth: If elected, what do you think President Obama could do that would help the community you just described to me? What would be the one thing he could change the most?
Termanology: To tell you the truth, I think it’s just the overall intentions of a Presidential candidate. Obama, his intentions are a whole lot different than McCain’s, the same way as Kerry, his intentions were different than Bush’s, and we chose Bush, so you see what happened. If your intentions are to just make rich people more money and not give a f*ck about poor people, that’s what’s gonna happen, ‘cause you’re runnin’ the show. If your intention’s [are] to try to help out America, and take it where it needs to be, back to bein’ a great country, then I’m sure you’re gonna do a lot better of a job. When Bill was in office, everybody was chillin’, we were gettin’ money, and now all of a sudden everybody’s broke like a motherf*cker. But that’s just everybody like me and you, that’s just the average people. That’s not everybody like them, ‘cause they just get richer and richer. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could go all day with it, but I try to sprinkle a little bit of politics in my music.
DJ Booth: This idea that politics can be discussed within hip hop music; when people check for new music, do you think that it’s an avenue that they’re searching for to find political commentary, or when they do hear it they’re like, “This is not why I’m listening?”
Termanology: Well, it depends on the person. I’m assuming every person that buys a Dead Prez CD is buyin’ it ‘cause they want to hear some information, ‘cause they want to hear something enlightening. Same thing with Public Enemy before them, and the new Nas album – you know what you’re in for, and if you bought it I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. I’m not saying you should do a club record or a radio record and try to get all political on people, ‘cause when people are drunk and in the club and partying all they want to do is just have fun and repeat silly things and sh*t like that. That’s cool, too, but that’s for a different time, and there’s a place and a time for everything. I think the best thing to do is keep hittin’ ‘em with lyrics that have substance, ‘cause the more you do that, that’s the more chance that people are going to hear it, the more you do it. That’s why I keep doin’ it.
DJ Booth: If you were to run for President of the United States of America, who would you choose to be your running mate?
Termanology: [laughs] Oh, man, that’s kinda crazy. I don’t know…
DJ Booth: Are you gonna pick Static?
Termanology: I’d have to take the Obama route and take 3 or 4 weeks to think about that one.
DJ Booth: Okay, but we don’t have 3 or 4 weeks now, I need an answer now.
Termanology: Oh, word?
DJ Booth: Yeah.
Termanology: Ah, man…
DJ Booth: Joe Biden’s already been selected, so you can’t take him.
Termanology: I can’t say Static, ‘cause Static’s too crazy, know what I mean? Static’s the type of dude that’ll take us to war with f*ckin’ Pakistan for no reason.
DJ Booth: Well, that’s not good; we don’t want war.
Termanology: Yeah, Static’s a little wild, yo. I say Dan Green, my manager, ‘cause he’s a smart dude, he’s about his paper and gettin’ it right, you know?
DJ Booth: So if Dan was your running mate, our economy would be in a good position?
Termanology: Hell yeah, for sure.
DJ Booth: Term, as we mentioned throughout the interview, your new album drops September 30th, so make sure everyone knows where they can find it, where they can check you out, give them a website or a MySpace page.
Termanology: Yeah, it’s myspace.com/therealtermanology. Go to iTunes, cop the CD, go to Best Buy, any store, they should have it. Shout out to Nature Sounds for makin’ it happen, EMI, St. Records. September 30th, it’s goin’ down, baby!
DJ Booth: Term, I appreciate you takin’ the time to join me inside our DJ Booth, and I wish you nothin’ but the best of luck, my man.
Termanology: All right, respect.