While it’s a stretch to place Statik Selektah and Termanology in the annals of Hip Hop history alongside the most celebrated emcee/producer pairings, it’s not at all an exaggeration to say that the pair has consistently delivered some of the best golden-era music in modern times. Operating once again under the moniker “1982,” Statik and Term provide the latest entry in their collaborative series, 2012.
“Lights Down” provides a window into Term’s as he reflects about everything from conditions of his neighborhood to the path he’s traveled in the Rap game. “…In and outta labels all the time / Had to change up my ideas, had to switch up my design / Went from dreams of being major to the independent grind / When you come to think about it, man I’m doing just fine / ‘Cause I’m on that YouTube and I’m on that iPod / Of that girl in the front row screamin’ ‘my god.’” Such even-keeled self-analysis shows that Termanology isn’t your run-of-the-mill constant shit-talker. The self-reflection allows listeners to relate to Term and gives the album more depth.
“Up Every Night” is some of the best feel-good Hip Hop recorded in recent memory. With a bit of self-deprecation, Term touches on his weed and alcohol habits, house parties, and the fairer sex. Statik Selektah’s choice vocal samples here are immaculate, and the keys at the end add a nice element of Funk. “Hard To Forget” finds Termanology mixing nostalgia with resentment, as he recalls old times marred by betrayal from snakes in the grass. “Time Travelin” is a delight, with slinky keys, wet percussion, and a distant whining synth paving the way for Term’s wistful subject matter. “Make It Out Alive” features militant drums and triumphant piano keys that serve as a perfect complement for Freddie Gibbs and Crooked I as they join in to deliver fearless rhymes. “Right Now” overplays the “chipmunk soul” card, but it’s the exception, not the rule. For the most part, Statik laces the project quite nicely for Term’s brand of meat-and-potatoes-hop.
Aside from strong performances courtesy of Term and Statik, the duo’s selection of guests deserves much praise. “Happy Days” looks dubious on paper, with Mac Miller and Bun B on the cut, but it turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Mac sets aside the party raps and drops one of his most thoughtful verses (has his flow ever sounded that smooth?), and Bun delivers in kind. The lone exception is Roc Marciano, whose drug talk doesn’t really fall in line with Term and Havoc’s rhymes about ambition. He delivers a fine verse in the abstract, but straying from the direction of the track is puzzling. This misstep aside, each emcee chosen has a distinctive voice and personality, with their presence helping to optimize the effectiveness of cuts on which they’re featured. There is as much attention given to the guest list as the beat selection—there’s no feature for the sake of a feature (something that has given many a project a sloppy, thrown-together vibe), giving the album a completely cohesive feel.
Listeners will be hard-pressed to find much of anything that tarnishes 2012. Statik Selektah and Termanology clearly operate as a unified front for the duration of the album. It’s just as well that the duo simply titled their album 2012, as they’ve crafted one of the year’s better and memorable releases, while simultaneously reaching a personal best.