by Mike Scarfo
Termanology recently celebrated his acclaimed collaborative album with Paul Wall titled Start 2 Finish at The Bridge Sound & Stage in Cambridge, MA. In this article, you’ll read all about the experience of the album release event, as well as exclusive insights from Termanology regarding the new body of work.
The Massachusetts music scene as a whole has recently surged over the last year or two, but there’s always been strong roots in the Northeast when it comes to hip-hop. Termanology, the Lawrence-native and multi-talented rapper and producer, has been a staple in Massachusetts since his burst onto the scene in 2006. He quickly became a prominent name in the game, intricately layering impressive combinations of gritty, fast-paced flows and clever, captivating rhymes over boom-bap style beats. Most notably, his critically-acclaimed 2008 classic album Politics As Usual featured high-level production from DJ Premier, The Alchemist, Buckwild, Hi-Tek, Large Professor, and Pete Rock, and featured the likes of legendary spitters Bun B, Sheek Louch, and the late Prodigy of Mobb Deep.
Over the years, Term also developed a synergetic working relationship with illustrious producer Statik Selektah as the two released multiple bodies of work together throughout the 2010’s, and a majority of Start 2 Finish was recorded and produced by Statik at his studio in New York.
Fast forward nearly a decade and a half, and not only has Termanology managed to achieve unique longevity in an era of music that constantly recycles sounds and demands the next best thing, but he is more motivated than ever to make innovative, timeless music. That is what stuck out to me most right away during his recent album release event at The Bridge Sound & Stage in Cambridge, MA for the astounding new collaborative album Start 2 Finish with the Houston-legend Paul Wall.
“I’m from Lawrence, I come from nothing. I grew up in the projects, I lived poor. To come from that [situation], and what I’ve become now, from a city that had no [musical] infrastructure, no labels here. It was just me and a bunch of cats going to the Middle East every week and battling and doing random shows on some 8 Mile shit, to what I’m doing now, I’m so thankful. I can never forget where I come from. And I feel like I’m not even close to done; I make 5 songs every day” - Termanology.
Photo from The Bridge Sound & Stage in Cambridge, MA
Term explains this to a room full of many peers, friends, journalists, and collaborators everyone nods their heads in astonishment. The drive and consistency to continue at his craft, and feeling like he still has room to grow is incredibly inspiring.
Termanology continued by showcasing his and Paul’s new body of work, including music videos for standout tracks “Recognize My Car”, “Thailand” and “No Tolerance”. Before and after each music video, he provided exclusive context to the creation behind each song. Whether it was the shocking revelation that the production on “Recognize My Car” is actually a 30-year-old Pete Rock beat along with a recreation of Paul Wall’s famous hook from Kanye West’s “Drive Slow”, or the serendipitous story of “Thailand”’s inception, Term’s candidness and enthusiasm for how this project came together was palpable.
Termanology plays the music video for "No Tolerance" for the group
When asked how a project between two emcees who have historically different styles came to be, Termanology was quick to praise Paul’s authenticity, hospitality, and passion for making music:
“With Paul, nothing was about the bread, that shit was motivating in itself. I said to myself ‘finally, someone who cares about the craft’. It was just organic. Even the videos were organic. I flew to H-town, I said I’d Uber to his crib, and he said ‘nah I’ll come pick you up’. And he picked me up, that’s what is missing in this world, there’s so much fake shit. It felt good and that’s what’s so cool about him”.
He also noted that Paul wanted listeners to make sure they really heard his bars and rhymes on this project, and that Paul needs more credit as a lyricist than he’s gotten throughout his career.
As far as specific tracks from the album, Termanology wasn’t shy about the significance of “Recognize My Car” being like a “time capsule” citing that a lot of hip-hop artists have tried to recreate the success of 90’s albums like Illmatic (Nas) and Ready to Die (The Notorious B.I.G.) but to no avail: “music don’t sound like that no more, we in a new world, you gotta step it up and go into new waves”. Instead, he reiterated the achievement of a song like “Recognize My Car” where it was “cool that we were able to put 2022 lyrics and visuals over a 1991 beat by the legendary Pete Rock”.
His most triumphant track on the project by far (and one of my personal favorites) is “Thailand” with Bun B, one of the only songs on the album that he produced himself. Termanology reminisces on the day he found the sample that eventually became the backbone to “Thailand”:
“I listened to the record at the record store, and I was like ‘yo how much for the record?’ and the dude said it was $40, and I was like ‘bet,‘I’m gonna make a beat out this shit’. So I grabbed the Biggie 'I Got a Story to Tell' drums, had the kid AJ Hall go in and replay them live, so these drums are live. And then shoutout to Brady Watt who did the bassline on it and brought it to life. But like I said, I’m just really proud of this one”.
Can’t blame him for being proud; I would be too if I made a song this good. I love the fluttering flute sample mixed with the thick bassline and drums are the perfect blend of southern influences and northeast boom bap. Plus, Termanology’s hook here is one of the catchiest on the entire project, as well as one of the best hooks I’ve heard all year.
Beyond the music, Termanology has made more of an impact than many may realize. An artist of his caliber could’ve easily left Massachusetts (no knock to anyone who has), but Termanology has chosen to stick around, and the result has been more than fulfilling. His loyal, homegrown, larger-than-life image has certainly impacted Lawrence and Massachusetts as a whole in ways that often don’t get enough attention, especially with this generation’s emphasis and focus on music with mainstream appeal. He is a self-made, independent artist dedicated to passing on the knowledge of the path he’s paved. Being a gatekeeper of knowledge does nothing for him; his ultimate goal is to inspire others, and leave behind a positive and productive legacy.
With this in mind, Termanology made it a point to discuss other endeavors that have been made possible because of his largely successful music career. His “Good Dad Gang” brand and initiative is very near and dear to his heart; as a father of two girls himself, Termanology utilizes the platform to raise awareness for fathers everywhere to be more present in their children’s lives, regardless of their personal situations or economic status.
This is not only something that I deeply connect with and appreciate, but it shows his care for issues much larger than himself. In addition, he also has a surprise sneaker collaboration with former New York Knicks star and Cambridge-native Patrick Ewing coming out later this month.
Knuckles of NBS & Termanology pose with the Patrick Ewing collab shoe
What was clear to me past his charismatic persona and pure talent as an artist is Termanology’s willingness to help others and make a true impact on the world. His dedication to his craft and community are unparalleled to most. Going forward musically, Termanology confirmed that six songs are already recorded for a part two of Start 2 Finish which is currently in the works, so be on the lookout for that in the future. But for now, keep this masterpiece of a hip-hop album in your rotation. Start 2 Finish includes features Bun B, Millyz, Nems, Kxng Crooked, Wais P, Fly Anakin, Mia Jae, & C Scharp, and production from Statik Selektah, Pete Rock, Dame Grease, and J. Cardim. Stream it on all platforms, or buy a copy on iTunes or Amazon!