The energy of "Family Ties" from Lil Fame and Termanology's collab album "Lil Fame & Termanology = Fizzyology" is as feel good as William DeVaugh's "Be Thankful For What You Got" and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "Summertime."
"Family Ties"'s funky, two-step beat boasts a subtle driving bass groove, punchy piano keys, rumbling kick drums and snares underneath Lil Fame and Termanology's passionate vocal deliveries.
But this isn't a happy-go-lucky ode to Michael J. Fox's sitcom from the '80s. The song's upbeat music makes more palatable Fame and Term's first person accounts of extreme childhood hardships.
Termanology describes an abusive household in the opening verse: "My daddy beat on my momma. My momma beat on me." But he isn't looking for sympathy, arguing his ability to cope ("I put it behind me").
The Lawrence, Ma native juxtaposes that those who know him today as a successful, respected rapper might be surprised by his life in 1993, a time when his mother was dating a killer, and his father married a drug addict who stole and sold for crack the Nintendo he got for Christmas.
Termanology raps that while other kids were flying Delta to go to Disneyland to "kick it with ya elders," he was "in a shelter" and getting into fights because of the way he looked. He raps, "Do you know what it's like when you look white, growing up being Spanish, not speaking the language?"
Lil Fame, who produced the track under his moniker Fizzy Womack, offers equally horrid experiences of growing up in his verse.
Fame recalls he and his mother being beaten by his father and blames it on the alcohol. He tells the story of a stepsister who committed suicide and the passing of his brother and mother. "If I told you that I predicted the death of my oldest brother which lead to the death of my mother you'd probably think I was crazy," he raps.
Despite their horrific tales, both Fame and Termanology close their verses accepting their circumstances without regret ("If I had to go back, I wouldn't change a thing") and stressing their respect for their loved ones ("After all that I'm still proud of my family").
"Family Ties" and another "Fizzyology" track "Lil Ghetto Boy" featuring Lee Wilson provide the album's grounding backstories that put in context the remaining in-the-moment street anthems. It's storytelling at its best, as vivid as Tupac's "Dear Mama" and Notorious B.I.G's "Juicy."