Panacea: American Bandstand

    Can one blame someone for being skeptical of the “new” Rawkus Records? Let’s face it, after all of the stories that had come out about Rawkus concerning contract despites, label woes and an eventual going under, how can a record label that had earned so much respect in hip-hop, and lost it just as […]

    Can one blame someone for being skeptical of the “new” Rawkus Records? Let’s face it, after all of the stories that had come out about Rawkus concerning contract despites, label woes and an eventual going under, how can a record label that had earned so much respect in hip-hop, and lost it just as quickly, rekindle its following?        As fans, the primary concern is not on how record deals really work out, the specifics of contracts or how promotion is factored into the success or failure of releases, it’s on the quality of the music.        And right now, there is nothing of more worth than hearing the narrative of Jason Moore and the organic melodies of Kyle Murdock. Though, they’re more recognizable for their Hip-Hop monikers Raw Poetic and K-Murdock, respectively, and the duos fledging group, Panacea.         Cleverly sprinkling poetic rhymes and head-nodding music since 2000, Panacea is on the heels of releasing The Scenic Route, a 14-song album of clever lyricism and feel-good musical accompaniment. All adjectives aside, K-Murdock feels there is only one word to describe the new album: dope.       And in the majority, if arguably all, instances, Murdock would be correct. It’s obvious when the duo speak that they’ve considered all the angles when creating The Scenic Route. Panacea sat down with to discuss how the album came together, what influences inspired the new Rawkus Records release and how Panacea could help cure Hip-Hop.   You two have got the new album The Scenic Route. What were you two trying to do with this new release?Raw Poetic: We’re really just trying to expand the sound off of something different. It’s a conceptual album, and we had to utilize a lot of new and different approaches to coming up with the album.K-Murdock: It was a challenge to make something different, to really just show some progression as a group. We’re trying to show people the chemistry with this project. And musically, we’re trying to put something new out after our last album, Ink is My Drink. This isn’t Panacea’s first record. There is both 2006’s Thinking Back Looking Forward EP and Ink is my Drink, as well as, RPM’s (Restoring Poetry in Music) Pyramids in Moscow release, which is a live album. What has the progression been musically for you two with each of your releases?Raw Poetic: We just released the Pyramids in Moscow album. RPM is our band. But K-Murdock and I branched off from the band. K-Murdock: RPM is still the original group. Panacea really started as a side project. It’s funny and ironic how life works out sometimes. Panacea was originally a five-man group, and Babygrande Records had expressed interested in signing us back in 2000. RPM is currently the backing band for Panacea, which is Raw Poetic and I. But, if I wasn’t handling production, there wouldn’t be any Panacea.Raw Poetic: We’ve been together as Panacea for a minute. In 2003, we recorded the “Birdfeather” track [which ended up on the Thinking Back Looking Forward EP], and then recorded an album in a month. Then we did Ink is My Drink. What concepts and themes were you looking to express with The Scenic Route?Raw Poetic: The main thing was that the whole album is taken from a short story I had written. There are some reality-based concepts and ideas I‘ve taken and used. But it is a story; an imaginative element that I think we’re lacking in Hip-Hop. How does the recording process work for you two?K-Murdock: Thankfully, I have the access to a studio. A few years ago it was harder. Nowadays, one is able to set up a studio and record anywhere. But, I actually have a professional studio I work at with XM Satellite Radio. Everything with my name on it has been recorded at that studio. And working as an engineer, I can apply those traits from my job when we’re recording. If we can do everything in house, why not? I’ve got everything available in front of me, and if I need a bassist, singers, trumpets or drums, I just have to make a phone call. It’s easiest to record. The promotion and the marketing is the hardest. We just did a six hour recording session Sunday, July 29, along with Raw Poetic’s cousin, Point Blank. Blank featured on “Square 1” from The Scenic Route. Point Blank also did the concept art for the album. A lot of people think we’re playing Nintendo Wii on the front, and we’re not, but it’s ironic. Up until yesterday, we hadn’t recorded like that in months. Musically, The Scenic Route pursues a very vast array of music. What was the thought process behind constructing those different melodies for the album?K-Murdock: Every album goes into what I’m listening to. I was listening to a lot of Progressive Rock and heavy analog music – to the point where I was sampling the stuff. I got to a point and thought, why not go buy a synthesizer and make my own music? I went out and purchased an Ion keyboard. I messed around myself, I’m not classically trained. I was taking whatever I was listening to, sampling it and putting a Hip-Hop spin on it. I really feel like each song has a living personality to it. I’m proud of that. I want my sound to be the factor. I don’t want one defining sound. How did you two decide what made the cut for The Scenic Route and what didn’t?Raw Poetic: When The Scenic Route was done, there really weren’t tracks that didn’t make it. If I picked the track, it stayed. When you’re doing an album from a script, you really can’t go off script. K-Murdock: I had made a gang of beats, too. One or two might be on future projects or an instrumental album. It wasn’t like I made 12 beats from “Immaculate Conception.” I started making them, Raw started liking them and I got into a roll where I make the music and Raw just kept picking them. I get into a zone. What are you hoping listeners take away from the album?Raw Poetic: I hope they take away a feeling of a refreshing experience, and looking at it as a musical novel. These people are tripping over Harry Potter – we want that. I know there is a lot out there. But just listen to the album and appreciate it. In Greek mythology, Panacea was the goddess of cures. Is that were you got the name from?K-Murdock: Yes. I was in school and I had a class on vocabulary building, etymology and word origins. Everything we say in our American vernacular has Greek or Latin roots. One exercise we had was finding words with “pan” in it. So I had come up with a list, words such as pantheon and panacea. But I was really curious about panacea, so I looked at what the word was, because I’m all about meaning and understanding how and what things mean. I thought Panacea would be a cool name. Panacea is also a Drum & Bass guy from Germany. But I want Panacea to be American Hip-Hop. When I thought about panacea being a cure, our music isn’t necessarily the cure, but music can always be a cure. Maybe it can help people. That’s the goal: to have something for everyone to empathize with. In the whole scheme of Hip-Hop music, where is Panacea going to fit in?Raw Poetic: I hate fitting in. I’ve always been an outcast. I’m a hermit too. I don’t know if we fit in. I like being out of the box with it. I just want to fit into music as a group that stood out. K-Murdock: We’re artists. Some people get stuck on the words Hip-Hop before they get to the word artist, but Hip-Hop is based on making something out of nothing; originality and creativity. It’s been so marginalized; we’re just showing that you can make it on your own, even if it’s out of left field. We’re bringing back individuality in the music. We’re products of the Hip-Hop culture. Raw Poetic said in an interview the other day, “If people are over here, we want to be over there.” What’s being shown in Hip-Hop right now is very myopic, and it needs to be broader. MC Raw Poetic lives in northern Virginia, though he’s originally from Philadelphia. And producer K-Murdock is from Maryland. How did growing up in those cities and areas influence the music you’re making now?Raw Poetic: You’ve got Philly, which is my home town. My mother and father were both Panthers. There are a lot of Black roots there. Virginia has more of a mixture of people. And I’m not going to lie; mushrooms, weed and going hiking gave me the idea of writing weird stuff. I’m not a backpacking hippie, but I’ve got an appreciation for that. I like going out with a beat and writing stuff on a mountain top sometimes. It’s an experience. K-Murdock: I grew up in the suburbs, and now I live in Washington D.C. I spent the first 12 years in northern Washington D.C., with my high school years, those years that shake and motivate a person. Most of my family lives in Maryland. I was kind of detached, I wasn’t around any harder types or thugs. I had a good family base and a mother that was supportive. She knew I was weird, but in a good way. I grew up playing a lot of Final Fantasy video games and not becoming a socialite until college and post-college. I have a knack of assimilating and being able to hang with a myriad of different people. That’s how it’s been. It shows in my music, because I have so many moods with my music. Some of that, I want to say, came from growing up. What were the circumstances behind Panacea coming together?K-Murdock: We met through a coworker who Raw was living with; a good friend of his. The coworker and I were both working at XM Satellite Radio. And this coworker had a friend between bands; Raw Poetic. I had been working with singers at this point, neo-soul was big, but I was getting tired. Even though I was working with progressive singers, I couldn’t bring the beats I wanted to. I met Raw through our friend. I ended up making an album full of beats for Raw Poetic, and he ended up picking the one beat I hadn’t thought I put on the album. So it showed Raw was really into my more secretive music. The track we recorded with that beat ended up being “Birdfeather.” When did you two decide that music was a serious profession for you guys and what were the factors that lead you two to that decision to pursue Hip-Hop?Raw Poetic: We came into music together. I had been with my band three or four years before Panacea. But music, that’s what kept us together; sharing that same passion. You meet a lot of people who want to do it but are not willing to go the distance. K-Murdock and I are willing to go the What does the immediate future hold for Panacea?Raw Poetic: It holds more albums, really. K-Murdock has a solo album coming in the near future. I do as well. There are going to be more RPM and Panacea albums. I’m also going to be working on an album with Point Blank.K-Murdock: I guess I can’t really add on to that. Let’s be honest, we’re all into this to make money, but the main focus was we both liked this, and we had the talent to do it. Both Glow in the Dark and Rawkus Records have helped us with our dreams. But whether or not we were signed, we were going to make this album [The Scenic Route] ourselves and press it. We would love to live off music. We still have full time jobs. One day, I can hope to pay off my bills from the money I’m making from music. Even if I’m working with XM for however long, we want to keep making it because we have a fan base. I really enjoy hearing from fans who say they like the music we make.