It’s a late Tuesday night in February, and Lansdowne Street looks like a ghost town. But inside Bill’s Bar, a capacity crowd has braved the bitter cold. “Termanology for Mayor” signs dot the walls and cover the floors. And the short, slender 23-year-old rapper is playing the politician as he walks through the crowd, an infectious smile stretched from ear to ear. He hugs girls, poses for pictures, and shakes hands as he makes his way to the stage. DJ Statik Selektah gets the crowd going with an a cappella version of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” As everyone sings the opening verse, Termanology reaches the stage and joins in.
But when the singing fades, the smile disappears and he begins bobbing his head to one of the slow hi-hat/snare mixes that dominate the old-school, West Coast-flavored production of the album whose release everyone is here to celebrate: Out the Gate (St. Records/ Showoff). Term is transformed. He begins to flow quietly, confidently, in a voice just above a whisper. His group, ST. Da Squad, soon surround him. Ed Rock shares the stage evenly with Termanology. It’s evident that the pair take their hip-hop seriously.
And they like to stay busy. Term has released four raw, studio mixtapes since finishing Out the Gate, the most recent of which is Hood Politics III (Showoff/ST Records), which came out in October and commemorated his being named “Unsigned Hype” in the October issue of the Source, an honor previously bestowed on B.I.G., Eminem, DMX, Mobb Deep, and dozens of other successful rappers. He’s already started work on what he’s hoping will be his major-label debut.
Ed Rock is fresh off the success of his January Scared Money Don’t Make None (Way Big Records) mixtape. His forthcoming Extraordinaire has also garnered notice at the Source. It’ll include “Murder Ma$$,” which he worked on with multi-platinum Virginia-based producer Nottz, whose past clients include G-Unit, Dr. Dre, and Busta Rhymes. The disc’s standout track, thanks to an innovative, distorted guitar sample, could open a lot of doors for the ambitious MC.
Termanology was born Daniel Carrillo, and he’d already been penning rhymes for years in 1994 when he met his future ST. Da Squad partner Rock (a/k/a Eddie “Easy Money” Rivera). He’d grown up poor in a bad area of Lawrence, where he saw gang violence and drugs sweep through his city. Ed first saw Term high up in a tree at a park. At least, that’s how he remembers it when I get him on the phone. Ed was short a player for a football game he was putting together, so Term climbed down and joined in. Over the next few years, they would forge a partnership based in a shared passion for hip-hop.
On the national scene, Boston remains a relatively small player. And Lawrence, well, it’s not even on the radar. When they began writing raps, Rivera and Carrillo knew they had a long, hard road ahead of them, even to make a mark in Boston. But when I mention Ed’s work ethic over the phone to Termanology, Term says, “He’ll make an album in one day. I take a long time. But he’s naturally talented.”