Over the course of his prolific catalog, Termanology has repeatedly served up nostalgia for 90s’ East Coast Hip Hop while working with a roster of iconic artists. And now on Bad Decisions, his first solo album since 2016, he’s enhanced that throwback sound. Though the Boston MC’s style may at times seem outdated, Bad Decisions shows the visceral power of simplicity, craftsmanship, and an innate skill for collaboration.
The album starts off with a rapid-fire, triumphant call-to-arms. On “Take Em’ Back,” Termanology takes a stroll down memory lane — drug deals, kidnappings, brawls, and robberies. Over a thunderous beat, the East Coast stalwart ruthlessly spits out details of his hustling. The momentum carries over onto “Crack Kills,” a well-polished track that heavily samples from The Notorious B.I.G’s classic “Machine Gun Funk.” Biggie’s line, “Used to sell crack, so I could stack my riches,” is repurposed into an anthemic mantra that centers Termanology’s origin story. At less than two minutes long, “Crack Kills” is impressive in its brevity and conceptual tightness.
An array of artists float in and out of Bad Decisions. Instead of being overshadowed, the Massachusetts native is always able to strike up some chemistry. “Passport Kingz,” featuring the legendary Raekwon, has both rappers flexing. In a similar vein, “Termanator & The Machine” features Conway sounding confident over a haunting beat and “Blac Chyna” showcases Millyz trading bars with Termanology against a simple keyboard instrumental.
One of the collaborative highlights is “Kaleidoscope” — an ominous track that brings in the solidified Brooklyn duo Smif-N-Wessun. With the lines, “See the world through my cocaine kaleidoscope,” Termanology articulates his dark artistic outlook. On their respective verses, the Boot Camp Clikkers excel at continuing this cutthroat vibe. “No Competition” is another stellar collaborative effort as ANoyd sounds extremely comfortable flowing amongst the turntable scratches and throwback vibe.
For all of the album’s strengths, there’s not much sonic or lyrical diversity and occasionally, a chunk of Termanology’s ideas are half-baked. For example, “Vegas,” has a distracting and chaotic production that doesn’t salvage the cheesy hook — “I am trying to shine like Vegas.” But these moments are outliers in an otherwise strong body of work.
Much like Pusha T, Termanology is obsessed with spinning old memories into biting bars and boasting a cocky disregard for his contemporaries. On the album closer, “Lonely At The Top,” he’s bitter about the current state of the street and raps about how “they used to move rocks but now they are moving suboxone.” He declares, “I ain’t got to make another album because I’ve said it all.” Hopefully, he’s just playing around because Bad Decisions is a welcomed refuge from mainstream trends.