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Walk down Canal Street under the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge and you’ll see people lining up for the Fung Wah bus. Originally a cheap way for Asian immigrants to commute between new York’s and Boston’s Chinatowns ($15 a ride), it’s now often used by frugal locals, students, and in the case of 26-year-old Termanology, fledgling rappers juggling the demands of a career and family. For the past couple of years, the Lawrence, Massachusetts–based MC has made that trip sometimes five times a week to record in new York and then, hours later, be back home to manage his label, St Records, and visit his four-year-old daughter. “I’ve been on the Fung Wah bus more than any person ever in America,” he says. “I’ll put money on that.”

Watch Termanology’s “How We Rock” feat. Bun B

Born Daniel Carrillo, Termanology first caught the attention of the hip-hoperati with the 2006 single “Watch how It Go Down.” the track, which features a DJ Premier scratch-infused beat, had term close to signing with a few major labels — deals that fizzled after he was unwilling to write more pop-friendly tracks. Instead of throwing together a mix tape, term focused on collecting beats from Easy Mo Bee, Large Professor, and Pete Rock (producers featured on classic debuts like Illmatic and Ready to Die) for a proper album. Being associated with DJ Premier helped him land coveted gigs and radio play. “I’ve come out of opening for Fat Joe, 50 Cent, I’ve been on tour with Q-tip and Common, and got right back on that bus,” says termanology. “It’s real tiring.”

The result of those four-hour rides is Politics as Usual (ST/Nature Sounds). Featuring Bun B, Prodigy, and Freeway, the album chronicles term’s life growing up in Lawrence — a former industrial town ravaged by the ’80s crack epidemic — and showcases his fast-paced flow, reminiscent of the late Big Pun’s. Term, who is half Puerto Rican, half French-Canadian, doesn’t mind that comparison, but offers another on “The Chosen”: “I’m like what Eminem would’ve been like if he would have been a spic.”

“I just feel like I’m such a good rapper and I’m so fierce,” says Termanology. “Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to do a song like [Eminem’s anti-Bush screed] ‘Mosh.’ they better assassinate me, because I’m fittin’ to say some shit.”

— Termanology first met DJ Premier at a Gang Starr video shoot in 2003. Term handed him a demo, earning himself a cameo in the video.
— He’s finishing a tour with Redman and Method Man. Next up is an album with Lil Fame of M.O.P., who’s on the Politics track “In the Streets.”