By Sunez Allah
Once this Hip Hop thing was innovatively united, our Black and Brown people had an artistic culture where studying their past is essential. What was found and highlighted for the newness expressed is the study that has promoted so much in our lives. This is also why black thought will always be the root of any Hip Hop song done. Now, Hip Hop music, in its fourth decade industry warring, the talented rarely get a chance and the gifted must wrap up presents for presidentials constantly.
Termanology and Statik Selektah are engulfed in this era where the act of making Hip Hop music is considered more a dying tradition. Their 2010 self titled debut sought to honor the proper way with great potential revealing itself (“The World Renown”) with peaks of beatmaking (“Thugathon 2010”) and MCing (“People Are Running”). However, there were also the missteps of target songs (“Wedding Bells”) and flawed content (“Freedom”). These missteps can become gaping holes if there isn’t more study for a writer’s content and true voice of insight and a producer’s perfect reflection of it via their most rarefied sounds.
With 2012, these missteps are not dealt with but layered over. Real talk. Brothers gotta eat and the amount of product that both Term and Stat release is extensive and easily argued as necessary for those meals. Term is as gifted as any MC can be technically. There is no tempo, from low (“Time Travelin”) to mid (“Too Long”) to upper (“Up Every Night”), that Term can’t consistently blend his vocals in. He can dynamically vary speeds, alter his inflections, display pauses on break or squeeze any decided amount of words into a bar. He can even deadpan his pitch or keep it high when he does the Pun-inspired “Babble On” technique as he and REKS have named it. As a character, he is sincere to the efforts of his paper pursuing struggle but, as any worthy MC, is completely honest to the embrace of the most hooded deeds from the running through hoes after shows to the cuts pitched to custies. Still, content-wise, the need for his words hasn’t been proven yet. His technical gifts and his real life deserve more than the simplified success struggle of “Happy Days” or “Lights Down.” Tracks like “Up Every Night” and “Live It Up” may be accepted through sincerity but falter through derivativeness. Also, as a battle MC, Term has a great intensity and strong imagery that is extraordinary (“Thug Poets”) though highlighted less than expected.
Statik is a crate filled, highly skilled, Boom Bap producer that has been incorporating more “hardcore” styles of the gross 00’s and this early decade. One of the most prolific today, it also must be stated that 2012 suggests he’s overworked. The majority of 2012 is a mid tempo journey where too breaks are familiar and hand clap snares are mass employed. The quest to signify a unique sound for Term, as opposed to the soulful raw drummed REKS album that just dropped (Straight, No Chaser) often leads Stat to choosing ideas as softer R&B clap snares and hooks (“Time Travelin”), the gayish auto-tune chorus of “Too Long” or the soft strings and the Shawn Stockman chorus of “Happy Days.” The hard tracks are tight but unsurprising as the big beat title cut or the piano laced, snare filled, seemingly digi-horned “Shining.” While the vast majority of the beats are respectful, they only overload a beat catalog where Stat has shown more 00’s tricks than a reliance on his superior crates, DJ cut skills and pure rugged sensibilities.
These Statik beds lead to Term spending most of 2012 rapping about rapping and overcoming struggle, as on “Right Now.” Still, the quest for Term’s real success is in the ingeniousness and complexity of his own content widening. An only respectful album from such an MC preserves but is almost dangerous to the survival of the Art’s thriving. Term drops great verses for today at the cost of the timeless verses for posterity. Much of this holds the same for Statik Selektah as well. The more you release the less you can truly mold and the Hip Hop track is a layered collage of perfection. Nevertheless, the simple solution of quality over quantity control is a bullshit option when these brothers live off a music that sells facsimiles of it at an astronomical rate. They must sell their entire career at every step so when do they have the time to study their missteps. As a writer must listen deeply to respect and not merely caricature a poltical-themed recap of 2012, he asks what can be uncovered from this duo if they could retrack their steps and refine them? Until then, Term and Statik’s cipher still is worth enjoying in its stronger boom bap prints left.