Since the beginning of their respective careers, Slaine and Termanology have been on a seemingly inevitable collision course. Over more than a decade, with each new album or devastating verse, the two New England hip hop heavyweights have continually raised the stakes, providing each other the fuel to push their lyrical intensity and creative output to new heights. As individuals, they helped spark a renaissance of classic East Coast hardcore rap; as a team, joining forces for the long-awaited full-length collaboration LP Anti-Hero this fall, they are cementing their status as battle-tested kings of the underground.
Backed by an all-star roster of veteran producers and guest emcees, Slaine and Termanology have created an album that distills their distinct talents and points of view into a cohesive artistic vision that is sure to become an instant classic. Moving comfortably from swaggering showcases of lyrical prowess to highly personal and evocative songwriting, Anti-Hero proves that, even after all these years, Slaine and Term are still pushing each other to grow stronger.
“We’ve grown a lot in the past five or ten years, as far as learning the business, becoming a man and handling responsibilities,” says Term, reflecting on the 20-plus years the pair have collectively spent in the rap game. “If you took it back to 2005, I’m sure me and Slaine were more reckless.”
Slaine puts their past relationship in more stark terms: “We were rivals,” he says. At the time, Slaine was making his mark as a young, Boston-bred verbal brawler with a raw, uncompromising and darkly funny rap style fueled by personal experience. Meanwhile, Term was a slick-mouthed kid from Lawrence, Massachusetts, armed with a lethal, breathless flow that didn’t so much ride over beats as blow them to pieces. “When I started buzzing, [Term] was coming up at the same time,” remembers Slaine. “I viewed him as competition.”
For such a monumental teaming, Term and Slaine both knew they couldn’t simply go through the motions. Instead, they embraced the challenge of finding a solid middle ground: Term amped up his lyrical intensity towards hardcore rhymes, while Slaine adapted his style to fit the soulful boom-bap production that his partner favored on his works. Over a period of over four years working together in the studio, they began to craft a new sound. “Doing a record with Slaine, I’m thinking like this is hardcore, raw, shock rap,” says Term. “I wanted to make it so that Slaine’s fans could feel me as well.”
Anti-Hero contains some of the most personal and unflinchingly honest songs in either emcees’ lengthy catalog. Halfway through the recording of the album, Slaine faced up to his struggles with substance abuse and got sober. Suddenly, for him at least, late night recording parties fueled by booze were replaced by sharply focused early morning sessions powered by cups of coffee. “It’s two different Slaines that I worked with on this project,” said Term.
Yet through all the ups and downs in Slaine and Termanology’s careers, one thing remains consistent: whether separately or together, these two anti-heroes will never let the other one catch them slipping.
“We are always going to push each other,” says Slaine. “We always want to write something great and that part hasn’t changed. Going in I wanted to make a record with a different feel, and I think that comes out.”