I’m feeling great.
Hood Politics 4 is finally out. What makes this project stand out against the other Hood Politics?
It’s just a lot more major. More people worldwide know me more now. I’ve been touring a lot and have been on a lot more mixtapes. I did a song and remix with Premier. All that helped me so much. Plus this is the only one that’s all original. This is more like an album, but it’s not the debut album. This is much bigger than the last ones.
Are you satisfied with this mixtape?
I feel really good about the way it came out. It was always a goal of mine to keep putting out hot CD’s every six months, but sometimes that’s not a reality for some people when they get caught up in the labels. Just the fact that I’m doing it independently, I can do it whenever I want. As long as I keep making quality music, I can hit you with this whenever I want.
What are your goals for Hood Politics 4?
I just want to lock down my fan-base and let everyone who heard music of mine in the past to go out and pick this up. I want them to be able to hear all my other joints.
You’ve got the hip-hop joints like “Watch How It Go Down” as well as R&B remixes. How important is that versatility in the climate of the game today?
If you don’t do it, people are going to put you in categories. You could be a battle rapper, backpacker, sellout, girly rapper…to keep away from those categories, you have to do it all. I look up to cats like Jay-Z, Luda and Quan because they’re able to do the street shit and club shit. As long as you’re not selling out on some corny shit, then it works.
You’ve stuck with the title Hood Politics for awhile. What does that title mean to you?
I try to be political with it and have a message in all my music. Some people in the street are undereducated and they don’t care about politics because they’ve got their own problems. You can’t be too preachy with people because that only reaches a certain crowd. I keep it hood and spit that hood shit about what I’ve seen and the people I’ve been around. I always try to throw some jewels in there and have a little message. It’s kind of like putting the aspirin in the applesauce so the baby can’t taste it. You can’t force people to listen to you. I try to teach the hood and keep the hood because you can’t stray away from it either.
Are you happy with the response to your biggest song to date, “Watch How It Go Down”?
Hell yeah. I always hoped that it would be that big, but I never knew people would embrace it and love it like that. I see cats come in with huge tracks and it never blows up. Coming from nowhere, it’s really hard to make your make in the game. To make this song with Primo and come out overnight and get all this high praise on this song, it feels really good. I’m real happy with how it went. I sat on the beat for a month trying to figure out where I was going to go with it. Then it all came out. At first I didn’t know how I felt about it. I didn’t know if it was too conscious, but everybody feels it.
How did you get the beat from DJ Premier?
He was in Headquarters, which is his studio, with Statik Selektah. He was playing Statik Selektah some beats for Nas or AZ or somebody. Then he played Statik “Watch How It Go Down,” and Statik was like, Whoa, what is that? Statik asked if Primo would mind sliding it to me. So Primo says, “Aight, let’s call Term and see if he likes it.” I was jumping up and down in my crib when they played it for me over the phone. I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was going to be hot but I didn’t know it would be that crazy. They emailed it over and that was that. I went over to Headquarters and banged it out with Primo, Statik, my manager Dan Green and MoSS. It was crazy. It’s such a great feeling working in the same room that Illmatic was recorded in and tracks from Reasonable Doubt and Ready to Die were recorded. It was a lot of pressure but it was all worth it.
How is Primo in the studio?
He kept it funky when I spoke to him on the phone. I told him where I wanted to go with it and he said, “Listen, man, have your lines memorized. Don’t come in here with no fucking paper.” That really put me under pressure because I have problems memorizing my verses before I get to the studio. After I lay them down, I’m good. It worked out better because it was probably my tightest flow to date. I was in the booth for quite awhile. It was always “Nope, you can do better.” He kept it funky. I put all my faith in him and it ended up working out perfectly.
And then Lil’ Fame and Papoose came through for the remix.
That worked out great. Papoose is a real lyricist and I respect him for kicking the real shit in a time when no one else is. And M.O.P is one of my favorite groups of all time. When you think of official street shit, you think of M.O.P. I wanted it to be more hardcore on the remix. Premier did all the scratches too. It was like a dream come true. I already accomplished half of my life’s goals at this point.
What are the other goals?
I want to get a record deal, be in The Source and XXL and work with Dr. Dre. I’m halfway there! I’ve already been in The Source and XXL and deals are getting thrown at us. I also spoke to Primo about doing more tracks for the album and he’s with it.
What was your inspiration for “100 Jewels”?
I was just chilling in Brooklyn listening to J.Dilla’s Donuts. I started freestyling over all those beats and some of those bars started coming to me. I wanted to do it but J.Dilla had just passed and it was just such a sensitive thing and I didn’t want to do a freestyle on his beat. I didn’t want anybody to take it as disrespect even though it was honoring me. I had a Roc Raida beat from DJ Deadeye. I spit the rhymes I had to that beat and touched it up a little bit. It was crazy. Without J.Dilla’s Donuts, I never would have written “100 Jewels.”
Why did you put some of your older tracks on Hood Politics 4?
I’m bigger now as an artist than I was then. Some of those tracks were unreleased and some of them are from my older Hood Politics. I’m definitely in a better position now. That’s the main reason for that. Throwing the classics on there was Statik’s idea. I got about 300 songs and we looked over all my joints and decided on the five or six hottest ones. We rolled with those.
Are you still spending most of your time in Massachusetts?
I spend a lot of time in New York City, but I have a daughter about to turn 3. I have a custody battle going on so I go up there and bring her to school a few days and have her on the weekends. When I’m not with Aaliyah, I’m trying to be out in New York making moves with Statik and Dan Green. I spend about half my time in both places.
Does having a daughter keep you on your grind?
Hell yeah. If it wasn’t for Aaliyah, I would be dead or in jail. That’s 100% truth. Before I had my daughter, I was wiling out. I was carrying guns and just doing dumb shit. Now that I look back on it, I could have gotten 100 years on some dumb shit. It’s not like I’m some street guy or on some thug shit, but that’s the category you’re put in when you do that stuff. She really, really shined a new light on me. I grew up a poor kid in Lawrence with no heat. We had to keep nailing the windows shut because it kept getting broken into and the back door wouldn’t shit. Out of the thirteen apartments, eleven of the people were on crack. My mother and the old lady down the hall were the only ones not on crack. That was in the early ‘90s when crack was still heavy. Just seeing the way that I grew up and the way I had to live, I knew I never wanted to go through that shit. It’s a real motivation for me to have her to make sure she never has to live like me.
How has the label hunt been going?
Pretty good. Towards the end of ’05 we made our rounds. Some people hollered but we never followed up. We’re not chasing them. The industry closed its doors on real hip-hop so it’s like, Fuck y’all. Whenever I’d go, they’d tell me I’m the future and I’m nasty but they won’t sign me. I got sick of it. I can do the independent thing and Dan works at Koch, so he can probably get a situation popping over there. I just came back from the Dominican Republic with Static from the Mixshow Power Summit and some cats were hollering at me. I got a bunch of meetings I’m going to take and I’m going to see what they’re talking about. I’m not going to change my vision for them. If they want to put up some gwop for what I do, great. If not, I’ll be independent for life.
How is your debut album coming?
It’s coming out great. I got a lot of friends that I roll with like DC and J.Cardim. I spoke to everybody and I told them this album is a personal goal for me and I wanted to work with all the producers I looked up to as a kid and that they would have to sit this one out. I really wanted it to be similar to an Illmatic-type album. Just me with the producers. So far I got DJ Premier, Nottz, Buckwild, Hi-Tek and Pete Rock. Alchemist is also supposed to throw me some beats.
How did your team react when you told them that?
They’re cool with it. They understand the bigger picture. It’s like, Let me make this classic album now, and then you will have a brighter future. It’s better than jumping the gun and not taking it where it’s supposed to go. They’re cool with it. I’m the one who makes the decisions on the team because I’m out there doing my thing. It’s not like I’m Eminem and they’re D12. I always looked at it like we’re Wu-Tang and I’m Method Man. I want all them to be known on their own and not as my boys.
When is the album coming out?
If I stay independent, it’s whenever I say it is. If I sign with someone like Shady, it’s when they want it to come out. I got all the beats I wanted for the album except for the Al beats. Once I get all the beats I’ll probably take a trip to Puerto Rico and chill at my grandma’s house to fine-tune the album. The album should be done around January and it should come out around March. If I do the major thing, you never know when it will come out.
Are you working on an ST da Squad album?
Yeah. We’re still gathering beats and we’ll go in to work on it. We’re going to release it around the same time as my album so they can go on tour with me. I want them to shine on their own so they don’t even need me.
What’s going to be your focus for the next couple of months?
I’m really excited about these beats. I just got the Pete Rock beats yesterday. I want to jump on them right this second but Hood Politics just came out. I got shows everyday so I’ll have to put the album on hold until December. I’m trying to get the Soundscan popping and do my numbers. I’m going to lean back in Puerto Rico and come back for Christmastime with my family and by that time I should be signed and working on the release of the Termanology solo project.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I just want to say thank you to everybody who comments on HipHopGame. Whatever you want to say, just say it. You’re only making me more famous when you hate, so that’s love. To all my fans, thank you. I love you. I’m very happy that people are embracing my music. I get almost 100 messages a day from random people on MySpace and all these random girls. It’s just crazy because I’m just not used to that. It’s just a great feeling. I want to thank all the fans. Go pick up Hood Politics 4 and you’re not even going to believe what I’m cooking up with the production gods.