Termanology [click to read] entered the recording industry with a heavy load of self-induced pressure. Seconds into “Watch How It Go Down,” the Massachusetts native proclaimed that he was “The Holy resurrection of Pun.” Two years and several installments of his Hood Politics mixtape series later, Termanology shows no signs of backing away from that statement on Politics As Usual.

Armed with contributions from heralded beatsmiths like DJ Premier, Pete Rock [click to read], and Havoc, Politics seems to be an ideal place for someone hoping to be Christopher Rios‘ heir. Much like the well-loved Boricua, Termanology can be self-assured, personable, or menacing when the mood strikes him. Though it has been two years since the release of “Watch How It Go Down,” Term‘s manhandling of Premier‘s  horns packs the same slap-to-the-eardrum intensity as it did in 2006. But that fire is absent for much of Politics. In its place is a string of performances heavy on cool and light on aggression. The gone-til-November anthem “Please Don’t Go” introduces a smooth criminal persona too busy grinding to set aside time for love. Nottz‘s bubbly backdrop adds a suave side to the album, and the Buckwild-helmed “Respect My Walk” showcases Term‘s newfound diversity as well. He uses a relaxed cadence while promising, “Depending on the right price, I can make your flow tight/Whatever you into, the pen-cil is in tune/I’ll show you what this pen can do.”

Termanology frequently uses such boasts to place himself in the company of legends. He spends a great deal of time comparing his skills to more established artists and claiming to be ahead of the crop of MC’s currently making music. However, these reassurances do nothing to save the generic drug ode “Float.” The uncharacteristically-lackluster production from music heavyweights doesn’t help redeem these shortcomings either. Though the aforementioned line-up seems fail-proof on paper, there are a few less than stellar offerings.  Pete Rock‘s bland string loop on “We Killin’ Ourselves” doesn’t measure up to his strong record of soulful compositions. Even Hi-Tek [click to read] delivers eerie organs for “In the Streets” that bog down energetic performances from Termanology and the always-hyped Lil’ Fame.

Ambition proves to be a dangerous virtue on Politics. It leads Termanology to occasionally bite off more than he can chew, but he recovers well when joined by Sheek Louch and Freeway for “Drugs, Crime, & Gorillaz.” The ST. Squad leader flexes his mettle over a piercing beat and chillingly says: “I get knots, then I bring ’em to Nottz/From the monster to cop, then I chop for the profit/And rocks that I sponsored, on blocks that I conquered/And stocks that I laundered, them blocks full of convicts/That pop at your mom/If you stop and show off with your rocks on your arm or your watch/You’ll be gone before the cops even called in.”

Termanology clearly has talent to spare, but for all his constant reminders, it doesn’t always show. Much like Canibus, his verses are always well put together but not always compelling. Despite his claim to be an elite lyricist and artist, Politics As Usual lacks the consistency that separates average artists from the greats that he aspires to join. Termanology feels he belongs in that exclusive company, but Politics, while good in its own right, is not the album that will earn him entrance into that club just yet.