When your heroes are classic hip hop duos like Gang Starr and your sound is more DJ Premier than DJ Khaled, the major record labels aren’t going to knock down your door. A sad truth, but for Statik Selektah, Termanology and REKS, it’s just a fact of the independent life.
After the Lawrence, Mass., natives connected as part of Boston’s hip hop scene in the early 2000s, they followed the city’s blueprint and went independent under the banner of ShowOff Records.
Founded in 2006 by Statik, ShowOff has released collaborations with icons like Nas, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip and DJ Premier along with their own artists like Termanology, JFK and REKS.
REKS’ new album “Rebelutionary,” produced entirely by Numonics, displays his razor sharp lyricism and everyman conscious content that allows him to attack political injustice while analyzing his battles with the world’s temptations.
As an alum of “The Source” magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, Termanology has turned the attention to his DJ Premier-produced hit song “Watch How It Go Down.” His new work with Statik on their new album “2012” could be counted as some of his best.
Statik has stayed busy creating mixtapes, rocking crowds worldwide and building his weekly show on Eminem’s Shade 45 radio station into must-listen radio for hip hop heads.
In addition, there’s a full slate of releases including projects with Bun B, Styles P and Strong Arm Steady and a crew album for Termanology’s team ST Da Squad on deck to close out 2012.
Shortly before the start of their latest European tour, the Banner talked with them about the newest addition to the ShowOff roster and the highs and lows of being independent.
What’s the big difference between this and the last 1982 album? You think this is a more focused record?
Termanology: The first one was just raw and more crazy. On the second album we have already gone through the wrath of the first time so we were a lot more conscious of the music we made. This is a more mature version of us. I feel like on this last album I was more happy with myself as a person and not so bitter over the fact that I feel like I should be a platinum rapper.
What do you think it is that is making people not just download it but come out and buy it?
Statik: We fill a gap that is just missing with that certain quality of soulful hip hop. No one is really making it.
Even though you have success in that lane, do you ever feel pressure to change it up?
Statik: The new album is as commercial as it’s going to get with records like “Up Every Night” and “Happy Days.” You won’t see us get much more commercial than that.
Do you think the pressure is more prevalent in the age of social media? Before, artists were insulated from all that.
REKS: Of course. It opens us up more to one-on-one conversation through Twitter and Facebook. They have more access to us. And they have a lot more to say. I don’t have a problem interacting with cats. I feel like I’m a people person so it is what it is.
You guys stay working. So what do you have musically coming up?
Termanology: I got an album coming with Lil Fame from M.O.P., the long-awaited “Fizzyolog.” We got an ST Da Squad album. Wrapping that up right now with five beats from Statik on it. I think me and Statik are going to do an EP for 1982 too.
REKS: On July 24, I’m dropping an album, “Rebelutionary,” with a cat named Numonics. Term’s on that with Jon Connor and Strong Arm Steady. I think this is an album I should have made a long time ago. It speaks volumes to what I talk about with social issues. I never delved into it for an entire project. This covers that and it doesn’t come across preachy.
Statik: The next thing is my album with Strong Arm Steady called “Stereotype.” That’s on Stones Throw/ShowOff. It’s a different sound. We got Black Hippy on there. I haven’t started the next solo record. I’m still trying to figure out what I am going to do. All my albums are different but I want to do something experimental.
Termanology: One more too. I finally got Statik to take [Lawrence-based rapper] Ea$y Money serious and we signed him to ShowOff. So now he is ST/ShowOff and it’s a good move... I’m happy for him. He has some amazing records coming. Be on the lookout for that too.