Street rapper. Mixtape rapper. Latin Rapper. Fans love to pigeonhole artists into categories that make them feel comfortable. Unfortunately, however, these categorizations often are career killers, limiting an artist to fans of a specific kind of content, genre, or even race. Termanology is unconcerned — a true MC, taking influences from old school hip-hop and fusing them with new school swag, Term defies categorization with his versatility, songwriting ability, and all around artistry. Hooking up with Tony Touch for his latest effort, Termanology speaks to Format about coming up in an oversaturated market and using fans unrelenting need to categorize artists to his advantage.
“Premo, he was real cool, he lowered his rate to hook me up. He didnâ€™t change me the 40,000 or whatever. He came and helped me. He said basically, he gave me the same price that he gave Biggie for his first beat”
Format: You recently came together with Tony Touch for the 50 Bodies mixtape. How did that come about?
Termanology: Iâ€™ve always wanted to work with Tony Touch because when I was a kid he was like my favorite DJ, had the hottest mixtapes, and then the fact that he was Puerto Rican. The concept of the mixtapes was 50 Bodies. He had the 50 emcee series, so rather than trying to recreate that, I figured Iâ€™d release 50 verses on my own and drop the 50 Bodies mixtape. So I gave him a call, he hosted it; we got Statik Selektah to mix it up and put it out there.
Format: The 50 Bodies mixtape features 50 of your best verses. How did you go about picking the verses?
Termanology: We did screens for most of my songs. We all just sat around, like me, my manager, some DJâ€™s, a couple of my friends, and we all just kind of blurted out â€œoh this one, oh that one, oh, â€˜Watch How it Go Downâ€™â€ and then some of them we had to dig in the vault to give the listeners some stuff theyâ€™d probably never heard of mine.
“I never said Iâ€™m better than Pun, I donâ€™t think anyone will ever be better than Pun. I was just trying to keep his name alive and show him love.”
Format: You have a series of mixtapes called Hood Politics and a street album called Out the Gate which is all original production. Talk a bit about Out the Gate.
Termanology: We marketed as an album, as a collaborative album. It wasnâ€™t necessarily my first album; it was kind of a Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek kind of thing. So we marketed it as much as we could, but at that point I wasnâ€™t even as big of an artist as I am right now and the Premier song hadnâ€™t came out at that point, and the Premier song was really what gave me most of my scene. It was a real slept-on project, but itâ€™s still dope, weâ€™re gonna try to re-push it once my real album comes out and get some more sales on it cuz itâ€™s a dope project.
Format: Being on the independent hustle, how did you hook up with Premo and how are you able to afford beats from him?
Termanology: Premo, he was real cool, he lowered his rate to hook me up. He didnâ€™t change me the 40,000 or whatever. He came and helped me. He said basically, he gave me the same price that he gave Biggie for his first beat, which was real low, under the price of a key. He helped me out and that was dope. You know we save money man, we do shows, and we sell mixtapes and we do whatever we gotta do to scrounge up moneys here and there. I actually got a loan one time cuz I got beats from Alchemist, I got beats from Pete Rock, I got beats from Buckwild, like all these legends. We try to get all this stuff on our own, that way whenever weâ€™re ready to drop, we just drop; we donâ€™t have to wait for no label.
Format: You often reference Big Pun in your material, and youâ€™ve even gone as far to say that you are the resurrection of Pun. Besides being a Latin rapper, why are you making that comparison?
Termanology: I was just trying to keep his name alive really cuz I feel like people sleep on him. I think heâ€™s actually one of the top three greatest lyricists of all time, so mainly Iâ€™m just trying to keep his name alive with that statement. I bumped into a couple people like â€œah, you cant say you better than Pun.â€ I never said Iâ€™m better than Pun, I donâ€™t think anyone will ever be better than Pun. I was just trying to keep his name alive and show him love. Where I was going with it was, I said â€œpolitical past rappers, and visuals past Malcolm, and finna go past platinumâ€ so I was just saying heâ€™s political with it, and heâ€™s lyrical with it, and he was successful, and I havenâ€™t seen that many other Spanish rappers come up and be that, so thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m saying I see myself as that, so Iâ€™m just trying to follow in the Godâ€™s footsteps.
“What Iâ€™m trying to do is more like a Nas, or like a Pac, where you can drop gangsta shit, and the hardcore shit, the lyrical shit, and you could do the club shit, the happy shit.”
Format: Both you and Joell Ortiz have drawn comparisons to Pun. What are your feelings about being placed in that category? Are you guys in competition?
Termanology: I mean not really cuz Joellâ€™s my boy. I mean to me, Iâ€™m more happy about Joell Ortiz signing with Dre cuz if heâ€™s successful it makes it easier for me, just like Tru Life signed with Jay-Z. It makes it so much easier for me. If we had a community of Latin rappers that were successful it would be looked on as a more common thing and it would be better. What happens is people hear Latin and all they think is Joe and Pun, Fat Joe, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and nothing outside of that. But say Joell Ortiz comes out with Dre, and he goes platinum, and Tru Life comes out with Hov, and he sells, and I came out and I sell, then people will respect as a whole.
“one day Iâ€™m gonna wake up in the morning and I might be chillin wit my daughter being a father, going to the mall having fun, and then the next day Iâ€™m in the street getting into a shootout, and the next day Iâ€™m being a rapper.”
Format: Youâ€™ve also drawn comparisons to a lot of upcoming rappers including Saigon, Papoose, and Grafh, whom many question their ability to release a successful album. What separates you from them and why should people be checking for Termanology?
Termanology: I just like to stand on myself, I donâ€™t try to compare myself to too many other people, but as far as me I can only speak for myself. Iâ€™m trying to just do the independent thing and hopefully it will be a successful situation and when I drop people will think of me as a big artist not really as an underground artist. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with being underground, thatâ€™s dope too, but what Iâ€™m trying to do is more like a Nas, or like a Pac, where you can drop gangsta shit, and the hardcore shit, the lyrical shit, and you could do the club shit, the happy shit. Iâ€™m really trying to push it like that.
Format: You drop a lot of conscious material, but you also drop a lot of street-oriented material. To what degree do you feel caught between these two styles?
Termanology: Itâ€™s more like itâ€™s all wrapped up in me. The styles is just me cuz one day Iâ€™m gonna wake up in the morning and I might be chillin wit my daughter being a father, going to the mall having fun, and then the next day Iâ€™m in the street getting into a shootout, and the next day Iâ€™m being a rapper. And then I come back home and itâ€™s all the same cycle again. One day youâ€™re going to wake up in the morning and do a happy song, and one day youâ€™re going to wake up in the morning and be sad and do a sad song, and if you look at the life of like 2Pac or Nas and cats like that you can actually see the same thing Iâ€™m trying to tell you they were going through.