Termanology drops his debut album Politics as Usual on September 30th. In this interview, he talks about his myriad of collaborations and his experiences as an up-and-comer. He also gives the most boring answer ever to our signature question. Nice, humble guy.
ML: How’s the press day going?
Term: I’m chillin’ man, kickin’ it man, smokin’ a blunt, man I feel so good right now.
ML: Anybody ask you any dumb shit yet?
Term: Yeah, some crazy shit, but I like the press days man, they help you out.
ML: If somebody’s been sleeping on Termanology so far, what songs do you think they should check out?
Term: I think the best thing to do is just go to iTunes and buy Hood Politics IV and V and get to really see who I am as a person and if you’re into my stuff then you go and cop the Politics as Usual. Those are like the lead up albums to the official album.
Term: Yeah, definitely. That was crazy man, because that was a vision I had and I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to make it happen, but I did. A lot of people tried to stop me from doing that, so I kept it moving and did my dream and shit and it ended up coming out crazy.
ML: What are your favorite tracks on each album?
Term: Oh man, that’s a hard one. Probably “Unbelievable” on Ready to Die. That and “Warning”. Those two are crazy, I mean everything on that shit’s crazy. Reasonable Doubt, probably “D’Evils”. I love “D’Evils”. That’s like the craziest. Jay and Premo went so hard and “Can’t Knock the Hustle” I love too. On Illmatic, my favorite shit is “NY State of Mind”. That’s like the definition of real hip-hop right there. That’s the shit.
ML: How come Statik isn’t on the album?
Term: Well the thing was, I did this album with all like platinum fresh legendary producers. This is like an elite group I hand picked. Statik is my brother, we work together a lot and do a lot of shit, but he understood that this dream and this goal was bigger than myself and himself. This was like a big picture type thing. He fell back from the beats, but he A&R’ed the project and helped put it together because these guys are legends and he looks up to them also. It was our dream to make it happen. So we did it.
ML: You’re going to be on his new album, right?
Term: Yeah, I was on Statik’s first album, seven records I did on there and on this one I got three. Yeah, Statik is my brother and you’re going to hear a lot of music from us in the future.
ML: How did you connect with DJ Premier?
Term: Met him in ’03. My man brought me to a video shoot Gang Starr was doing and then I gave him my demo, I spit for him and Guru and yeah, that was cool. I kept doing my thing for a couple years and then in late ’05, early ’06, Statik became really really good friends with Premo and they called me on the phone and played me “Watch How It Go Down” and asked me if I liked it. I fuckin’ loved that shit so I took it and I smashed it. Ever since then, it’s all love. Premo like fam now. I got a whole bunch of records with him and there’s more to come.
ML: That’s a good guy to have in your corner. Premo is pretty good, I’d say.
Term: Yeah, he’s the man, dog and I owe him a lot. After I did my first song with Premier, my stock went up. I started getting paid and it was no more free shows and free t-shirts. So I owe a lot to Premier, he’s the one with the new record with Bun B. He just keeps helping me up my stock.
ML: Everybody who records with Dre says the same thing: he’s a perfectionist, he makes them record the track like ten times. What’s it like working with Premier?
Term: It’s the same thing, man. He’s a perfectionist too. He’ll make me do a take like fifty times sometimes, but I respect his word. I always try to see his vision. I stick to my guns, but the only cat I pretty much let get in the driver’s seat and I just lean back is Premo. The rest of my music, I pretty much do on my own with my man Bob Nash. I grab the beat from a producer and I go up to Walker Sound, that’s my studio, my man Bob Nash runs that. He just leans back and let’s me do what I wanna do. All the rest of the tracks, I pretty much did on my own, but the Premo ones, Premo was really the one. Like, “rap faster right here, rap slow, go hard right here”. He’s a coach, he’s good.
ML: Who was your favorite producer on this album to be in the studio with?
Term: Oh, Premo was the shit. Pete Rock’s shit was great. I was in Bassline Studio with Young Guru. Young Guru recorded some legendary albums. Blueprint and all that shit. That was great and Pete Rock gave the hook to me and adlibbed the whole track, so it was really really love. Buckwild is my man, that’s my brother. I recorded like four or five songs with Buckwild and used one of those on the album. He’s going to executive produce the St. Squad album coming up soon too, my group. So Buck’s always fam. The rest of the cats gave me beat tapes which was fine too, ’cause we gotta get it done and as long as we get it done it’s on.
ML: It seems like you know a lot of legendary guys. Do they tell good stories?
Term: Aw man, they all got stories, the best stories you ever heard. That’s the thing, I’m a big hip-hop fan so I’m obsessed with the origin of hip-hop and how it started and everything that happened since it started. One minute I’m with Premo and he’s telling me about Biggie and Pac and all these cats and Easy Mo Bee has mad stories about Pac and BI and shit. They passin’ it down to me and we just keep it movin’ like that and keep the culture alive.
ML: So wait, there’s an St. Da Squad album coming?
Term: Yeah we already did one just for the fans and just threw it out there. “It’s the St.” was the single, produced by Statik Selektah, did a video for it and whatnot, but that was more for the streets and for the love. We’re actually going to be working on a real album now. I just told everyone to lean back and let me put out this Politics as Usual. And the next album is going to be a me and Lil Fame album and at the same time I’m going to work on St.
ML: You’ve pretty much got the biggest names in hip-hop on this album. Is there anybody else you’d like to work with in terms of MC’s or producers?
Term: Yeah man, I’ll be out here all day telling you, I just love rap. I love anybody who’s dope. It don’t even matter if you got a big name or not. I like a lot of cats that are like under me. They don’t even have buzz at all, nobody knows who they are. But there’s some cats all the way at the top like Kanye and Dre and Eminem. Obviously, I would wanna work with them too. I’ma just gonna keep rockin’, dog, I just wanna keep doing songs with everyone until I’ve done a song with everyone.
ML: Is there anything that didn’t make the album?
Term: Yeah, I did a lot of collabos with people that didn’t make it, like before the album. Those are usually just because I was being a little picky. But I think I got a really dope joint with Pete Rock that didn’t make the album, but I hear he’s been playing it, so I think the fans will get to hear that real soon. I did joint called “In the Ghetto.” We redid the old Eric B. & Rakim song, me and Lil Fame. I played the Rakim part, I smashed that, it was crazy. I think I might put that out there for the fans. Get a couple bonuses for the people who really fuck with me.
ML: You’re half Latino, right?
Term: Yeah, I’m Puerto Rican. I grew up in Lawrence, Mass. It’s like a 90% Hispanic area. It’s like all Dominican, Puerto Rican. So I grew up pretty much in a Hispanic environment. And my mom’s white, but my mom’s from the projects, so she’s like Puerto Rican-white, it’s different, y’know. It’s weird, ’cause I was raised around a lot of black people and I’m half white, but I was raised by Latin people. So I’m like everything in a big pot.
ML: So were you listening to a lot of Latin music growing up?
Term: Hell yeah, of course. My father moved to America from Puerto Rico when he was three years old, so we really from the island. My first generation family that I lived with every day is like hicks from PR. So my life was definitely influenced heavily by Latin music and being Latin and the pride and all that.
ML: So I was wondering, why isn’t there more of a Boricua sound in your music?
Term: Well, I do hip-hop. Just because I’m Spanish, doesn’t mean I have to do reggaeton. Pretty much, I don’t speak Spanish well, because I grew up without my father. Even though I seen him a lot, it wasn’t like an every day thing. I seen him and he put me in line and it was what it was. But, I think in the future you’ll have a lot of that of that coming from me, because I just like to have fun with it. I speak a little Spanish here and there, but you ain’t gonna see no full Spanish albums coming from me.
ML: I don’t mean like reggaeton, I mean like Big Pun, songs like “100%”.
Term: Oh yeah, I feel you. Well you know like I said, in the future, you’re gonna see. I got a few songs lined up right now I’m working on, but they just didn’t fit the album. I just this joint coming soon, it’s called “Te Cuida”. It’s pretty much like ‘be careful’. It’s supposed to be me, Tony Touch, Easy Money and Joell Ortiz. I’m trying to get all the Rican cats on there. I’m going to reach out to a few more heads and make this shit really pop and that’s pretty much on some “100%” type shit.
ML: How’d you get on Nature Sounds?
Term: They just reached out. We met with everybody from the biggest labels, all the way up, high as you go to the lowest of low and we just felt that Nature Sounds was the best look and they understood where we were trying to go, they wasn’t trying to make us change nothing; they were just willing to put up paper and believe in the dream and go out with us. We was all for it, it just seemed like the right the to do and at the same time I got to get my own record deal, St. Records. St. Records/Nature Sounds – can’t beat that with a bat.
ML: Were there any other labels that you were considering, or that were considering you? Like which ones?
Term: I went to every label, trust me. I went to Universal/Shady, the list goes on, like Interscope. I went to every one, but everybody was like, ‘You nice, you dope, we like you over here. Good luck.’ That was it. Or some people, I can’t really mention, was like, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna sign you’ and then they never did. But shit like that is not personal. I don’t feel no kinda way towards them. I just feel like ‘OK, it’s business’. If you don’t feel like I’m going to make you a whole bunch of money really fast and it’s a definite, you might not want to gamble on me. I understand that. It’s all good.
ML: “Industry rule number four-thousand-and-eighty”
Term: “Record industry people are shady.”
ML: Since you’ve got the Hood Politics mixtapes and the Politics as Usual album, I have to ask, who are you voting for?
Term: I’m voting for Obama, for sure man. I went to see Hilary at her speech, she did a good job. I’m a supporter of the Clintons too. I voted for Kerry. I went and met Kerry also. It’s a shame he got robbed, but that’s the situation. I’m just hoping for change and that the boy Obama get in there and kill it, because we need him right now.
ML: You said you got the Squad album coming, what are you doing besides that?
Term: Me and Lil Fame’s album, that’s the next album after mine. That’s just gonna be insanity, because we already did a bunch of records for it and trust me, that dude is a monster in the lab. And then St. Da Squad album coming after that. We ain’t gonna stop. 100,000 albums, what’s up.
ML: So you got a whole album with Lil Fame?
Term: Yeah, we doing a whole album. That’s my next album coming out. I’m not doing another solo. I’ma lean back from the solos for a bit and do a me and Lil Fame and a me and St. album and then I’ma do me and Statik Selektah album and then I’ma get back and do my second joint.
Term: I wanna work, pop. I wanna work. That’s why I’m here. A record deal is an opportunity and they can be foolishly terminated.
ML: How did you meet Bun B? That’s crazy.
Term: Bun called Premier and he told Premier that he liked the shit I was doing with Premo and he would be down to work with me if we wanted to holla at him. So, I called him and spoke to him and he said he was down. Pretty much, Prem hooked it up. It was just a mutual bond and just for the love of hip-hop. So I called Bun, and I happened to be in Austin already, and he’s like ‘Yo, come to my birthday party tomorrow in Houston’. So we went to his birthday party, went and kicked it with him, and just solidified the relationship. We both told each other that we really liked each other as MC’s. So, Premo cooked up the beat and we did it up and we did the video last week and that shit is some real hip-hop history shit.
ML: Do you know what the sample on that track is?
Term: Nah, even though I watched him make the beat, but I wasn’t paying attention.
ML: What’s it like when Premo is making a beat?
Term: I watched him make like ten beats in front of me. That shit is crazy, you have no clue. All these beats that you love, you have no clue how they were made. When you watch him piece all them shits together– people don’t even realize, they think these are just regular melodies that get looped and this shit is nothing like that. It’s all chopped the fuck up, like every second. It’s crazy. Even when I listen to it, I still can’t even remember how the fuck he did that shit, because that shit is all little pieces pieced together, it’s not just one thing.
ML: Has anyone else besides Bun B reached out?
Term: A lot of people show love. A lot of people that I already got tracks with like Canibus. He told me manager Dan Green that he liked my shit, so we did a song together, it’s called “About that Time” and we ripped that. Evidence from Dilated Peoples. I went to LA and chilled with Dilated Peoples for like three days, did some shit with them. Obviously Joell. There’s a lot of cats, I fuck with a lot of people. In the future, you’re about to see me on a lot of people’s projects, because I like doing appearances and shit.
ML: Do you have any shows coming up in New York?
Term: Yeah, I got a show at the Knitting Factory, September 18th. It’s my listening party. I’m gonna play the whole album for the public, if you wanna come through. I’ve got DJ Premier spinning for two hours, so it’s gonna be a real nice show, some real hip-hop shit. M.O.P., it’s gon’ be nice.
ML: Sounds ill. Alright man, this is our question we ask everybody. What’s the last thing you bought?
ML: What’d you eat?
Term: I ate eggs and potatoes.
ML: Good, good healthy breakfast.
Term: No doubt.