Concert Review: Slaine & Termanology at Nocturne in Toronto

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For over a decade, Slaine & Termanology have been staples in the Boston Hip-Hop scene as individual artists. Mostly navigating their careers separately, Slaine has made waves in the underground both as a solo artist and as part of the group La Coka Nostra, while Termanology has done the same with heavy collaborations on his solo albums. They’ve only collaborated a handful of times over the years, until now, having teamed up this year for an entire album called Anti-Hero, and of course are now on tour to promote it. Naming their newly formed duo Slaine vs. Termanology (instead of an “&”), the album puts an emphasis on competitive rhyming, and the lineup for this show would be filled with emcees who value sharp lyricism.

With some of the shows reviewed last month being hosted by either Stacee Brizzle or JDon, this would be a fun one with both of them co-hosting together. JDon would hype the crowd up by tossing out freebies and Stacee would crack jokes while introducing the local openers. Already on the stage when I showed up were Nos Killah & Trouble Maker, who also opened for Necro & Madchild at the last show we reviewed. They adapted their set to the more traditional Hip-Hop crowd, removing the heavy metal track from their set list and rapping over familiar beats by Wu-Tang and Swollen Members.

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Next would be some out-of-towners performing their first shows in Toronto. One duo had some island flavour to their songs, bringing a party vibe to the stage, and another emcee from St. Catherine’s just went in with straight bars over rugged beats. After them would be some Toronto artists signed to JDon’s label, Raw Dawg Entertainment, with Tre Da Kidd and Nathan Skullz taking turns performing solo tracks. They got the crowd bobbing their heads as Skullz went in over the beat from Ghostface Killah’s “Guns N’ Razors.”

More Toronto artists would rock the stage, including Admiral Naughtz and Dubble R a/k/a Ruby Red. It was my first time seeing them perform, but they came with a traditional approach that fit the vibe well, straight rapping with no gimmicks and letting the rhymes speak for themselves. The final openers would be a group I’ve seen many times, including at the Necro & Madchild show last month, Marmel. They performed many of the same tracks as last time, except this time they had their third member with them to sing the reggae parts of the songs. The small Nocturne crowd rocked with them, and pretty soon it was time for the headliners.

In a much similar fashion to how Killer Mike & El-P were their own openers when they went on their very first tour together as Run The Jewels, Slaine & Termanology would take turns performing solo sets before taking the stage together as a duo. Slaine came out first and started rocking new songs off his 2016 album, Slaine Is Dead, including the title track, “Nobody Prays For Me,” and “Pusher.” He would progressively take the fans back in time, performing his verse from La Coka Nostra’s “Fuck Tony Montana,” and his solo throwbacks “I Ain’t Done” and “Say I Was Slaine.” He then took some time to break down the reason for the “vs” in he name of his new duo, and how he and Termanology saw each other as rivals for many years as they fought for supremacy over the underground Boston Hip-Hop scene.

Slaine then hung at the back of the stage as Termanology came out to rock some of his solo material. He also started in 2016, performing “I Dream B.I.G.” before doing a throwback tribute to the late Sean Price, with the 2011 song “Population Control.” The crowd rapped along to P’s first verse before Term came in and slayed the second. Termanology would showcase his lyricism with an accapella freestyle verse, and eventually closed out his set with the 2008 DJ Premier production, “So Amazing.” It was my first time seeing Slaine or Termanology perform, and while I wasn’t familiar with all the songs, they still rocked the crowd and slayed the mic.

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Now getting into the new Anti-Hero album, Slaine joined Termanology at the front of the stage, and they started with track one, “Still Here.” Continuing into the lead single off the album, the Statik Selektah-produced “Land of the Lost,” Slaine & Term slayed their verses like true seasoned veterans. They got into some more album cuts like “Some Other Shit” and “The Demon’s Peace,” the latter track highlighting the diversity of their Irish and Puerto Rican backgrounds, before finishing their Anti-Hero segment with the DJ Premier-produced title track.

With the album being less than a month old, Slaine & Termanology seem to still be figuring out which songs resonate most with the fans, but it’s safe to say DJ Premier gave them a certified head-nodder to close out with. Wanting to end with a bigger bang though, the two emcees would close out the show by each performing their biggest solo hits. Termanology kept with the DJ Premier production by performing the 2006 single “Watch How It Go Down,” showing off his Big Pun tattoo as he got into his rapid-fire flows, and Slaine damn near started a mosh pit with his 2010 single “99 Bottles.” They had a funny dynamic on stage, as Term would pour fans shots out of his bottle of Wiser’s whisky, and Slaine would humbly stick to water, being a former alcoholic.

After rocking the crowd, Slaine & Term headed to the VIP area at the opposite end of the club, where fans who either bought VIP tickets or any item off the merch booth could go get pictures and autographs. Overall, it was another fun night filled with that grimy, rugged underground vibe. While I hadn’t been back to Nocturne Nightclub in about four years, it remains a great venue for these up-close and personal rap shows, where the artists can interact directly with the individual fans. Slaine & Termanology have just started their Anti-Hero Tour, and will be performing in Cambridge and Montreal before heading back through the U.S.

 

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