On their sophomore outing, the Lawrence, MA duo set out to prove that their initial collaboration wasn’t a one-time only get together just for the hell of it. Instead, “2012” was one of many releases steadily bringing back a seminal element in hip-hop music: The MC and the DJ/producer group-combo. Acts like Eric B. & Rakim, Gang Starr, and even DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince took that concept and ran with it for years, with high success in the hip-hop community even after their respective break-ups. Only now on this, with Stat behind the boards and Term behind the mic, you can actually hear the chemistry between both artists who love their respective crafts.

The album cover is kind of prophetic, with both artists on a dish in the President’s office, with Obama in the background. Also, of note is that, in 2012, both men turned 30 years of age. Which is not to say that either man turned old, but to shed further light on their connection as there are several spoken-word vocal samples from a year-in-review audio for the year of their birth, 1982. Stat’s beats were more improved this time around, containing better break-beats and more interesting samples. With slavish devotion to sampling and digging in the crates, Stat showed why he’s one of the most sought-after producers of the underground. His beats appeal to the underground thugs, lyrical monsters, and backpackers alike. Case-in-point: The lyrically autobiographic “Lights Down” sounds like it samples part of a musical with thick cowbell drums while the Havoc/Roc Marciano mic-assisted “Thug Poets” has a sampled piano/synth loop with strong snares. On this album, from this reviewer’s ears, it sounds like Stat has a reservoir of early 70’s and pre-1970’s vinyl at his disposal.

And despite Termanology’s desire to stay true to hip-hop, he has the ability to do so while appealing to a pop audience. “Up Every Night” has him flowing effortlessly over the Stat’s borderline radio-friendly production, same with “Happy Days” which features ill verses from fan-favorites such as Bun B and the late Mac Miller with the hook sung by Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men (what happened to them, by the way?). Term’s lyrics vary from struggling talented rapper trapped in drug dealing to partying kingpin. Seems clichéd and shallow, right? But only if packaged in such a way that no one going to sign for it, like a UPS ground delivery. Term doesn’t have that problem because he’s not some one-dimensional thug-rapper. He crafts lyrics in a way that don’t necessarily glorify, but rather explain the pros and cons of the street lifestyle. As Term quotes on “Everything”, he’s “just tryna make the shit sound authenticious”. “Hard to Forget” has Term over an undeniable drum break with a mellow backdrop, spittin’ a story of betrayal reminiscent of Jay-Z’s “A Week Ago”:

If I fronted you a pack and you never paid me back
Just know I ain’t forget it, but you just deaded your credit
Not a chicken wing, not a French fry, not a piece of gum
Not even a pull of a mid-grade reefer blunt
Sorry for being blunt but I can’t stand a snake
Just another hand to shake

Ike Turner, Annie Mae

“Right Now” is fantastic, but suffers because of the repetitive gospel vocal sample. The last verse has Term lamenting hip-hop’s current state, but is a little ruined by the last bar:

I can’t take it any more
There’s no Big Tiggers in the basement anymore
There’s no more skills whole place spitting bars
Just a juvie and a cause, damn
No more creativity The ability to raise the bar lyrically
Comparing me, mentally, I’m a top ten MC

While he’s a dope MC, he’s not in the top 10, IMO. Term sounds his most commercial on the quite-polished “Live it Up” featuring Lil’ Fame from M.O.P, complete with female singing on the hook. The lyrics and hook are like Term’s variation of Drake’s “Y.O.L.O.”. With all his guest appearances, the one where he had an inevitable “Eminem murdered on your own shit” moment was on “Make It Out Alive”. Beatwise and lyric-wise the track comes hard, but they made a mistake by putting hungry, versatile all-around self-confessed thug Freddie Gibbs on it. Even with Slaughterhouse’s Crooked I also providing an assist, it’s Gangsta Gibbs who came the hardest like he just left a titty bar:

I just hopped off another bitch
Another city on my tour another couple zips
Smoked up and if you low, I get you motherfuckers sent
Do it on the daily just to pay my motherfucking rent
I keep the Pyrex kitchen set, I’m a trap vet
Coming out the G it’s a blessing to get a rap check
Tell me, is you pub wit’ niggas that be busting out in public
Middle of the day, I’m on some thug shit
And if I die prematurely, don’t let my killer see the jury
Chop them niggas up for me, they’ll never make it out alive

I’d venture to say that Gibbs’ vivid, graphic and unapologetic point-of-view has propelled him to the forefront of the mostly-dead gangsta rap sub-genre. Overall, Term and Stat stepped it up and delivered the goods. Considering this was both released in and named after an election year, this duo has shown that they can campaign successfully for promoting quality hip-hop.


Statik Selektah & Termanology :: 2012
8.5Overall Score