featured interview

Panacea Following the scenic route September 4 marks the release of their second album on Rawkus Records. K Murdock and Raw Poetic of Panacea are the rising stars of an underground that seems to get bigger, more creative, and more imaginative. ?The Scenic Route? is yet again a fantasy trip through the militant minds of both members who seem to be expanding their minds day after day?....

Your music is a child of many influences, but in the core it is still hip-hop, how do you manage to mingle all these styles into one album, one song even, and is it hard for you to stay makin music within the field of hip-hop?

RAW POETIC - I can't lie. I find myself very tempted in venturing outside the world of hip-hop. But it?s hard to break old habits. I can hear any piece of music and start thinking of rhyme patterns for it. So for now, I use the hook as that outlet to try other stuff. But coming from a live music background, and being with RPM for so many years and counting, you get a mix of everything with us. K-Murdock is well versed in his own right, and just having a band to perform live adds to it.

K MURDOCK - Hip-hop is based on making something out of nothing or in many cases using existing material to create new material so it's easy for me as a producer to fuse all these other genres that influence us into a new creation because the very fact that I am using one of hip-hop?s most well-known techniques of production- 'sampling', shows that there is a hip-hop presence there, regardless of how the music sounds... and it's never hard because the beauty of hip-hop is you can be as loose and experimental as you want, it's encouraged.

The drums are more energetic on this album (?Square One? for example) as opposed to the smoother drum programming on other albums, a deliberate choice?

K MURDOCK - Yes, because one of the biggest pieces of feedback I get on my beats is that my drums weren?t as knocking or swinging and that?s very important in hip-hop because if you recall all the early stuff, it was more percussive and rhythm-happy before the advent of samplers and synths, etc?... so I made a conscious effort to really get the drums moving and being kinetic be it me programming them like on Square One or using breaks like on the title track or ?Katana?. It was a challenge for me personally to get my production up and that is one area I feel like I am getting better and better at.

A recurrent theme is the surrealistic, imaginative, fantasy music, where do you get your inspiration from within that field of music-making, song-writing?

RAW POETIC - My favourite thing to do with music is taking a serious subject matter for me, and colouring it with an imaginative world. It?s the best of both worlds. It?s like not from concentrate and from concentrate all wrapped in one.

K MURDOCK - As the producer, I get inspired from the range of anime (Japan) movies and TV-shows to videogames to just things that are more art driven?... I think me and Jason (Raw P) have always had an unexplained affinity for all things that evoke imagination and are beyond what is real to us?... a lot of it is because it?s a form of escapism that you can use to go somewhere else and a lot of those same things also invoke different emotions too, which makes it still able to be a real experience even if the source is completely contrived or fantastic.

There?s a sample of Bob James in ?Between Earth and Sky? used on a De La Soul track, but I have a feeling you would use it even if De La never used it, do you have other examples of samples that you would absolutely want to use for a Panacea song?

K MURDOCK - Umm?... I have to be careful disclosing that because of sample clearances (laughs), but indeed there are plenty of songs I want to sample coming up for future Neosonic productions, from the Flaming Lips to Pharoah Sanders to Japanese synth master Tomita?... it?s just a matter of doing it. And also, using that BJ sample was to pay homage, not only to Mr. James but De La and Prince Paul as ?Keepin the Faith? was my joint!

?Sky high is the limit?, how does stardom in music appear to you, is it something you?d like to achieve?

RAW POETIC - Well, yeah. I would love to create a cult following. But to do that, you have to take ?The Scenic Route?. Sky High though, is used more in this album to show that when it comes to creation, the limits the sky and even further.

K MURDOCK - No doubt, but it isn?t the initial aim, the AIM must be HIGH-er than that (pun intended). We wanna be known in and outside the hip-hop genre and just be known as good music artists who make good progressive music that happens to be very hip-hop-rooted. Anyone who knows us knows we aren?t new to this so the stardom part isn?t an issue, it?s just a consistency issue so we stay around, that?s the thing to ultimately achieve!

???We all wanna go back sometimes because life was simpler before my face grew fuzz??, what are the kind of things you mostly miss as a grown-up?

RAW POETIC?? Hmmm?... I miss the closeness to the older folks in my family. My grandmother and my mother. We?re all still close, but now I?m at the age where I?m one of the men of the family. It?s my turn to make sure they?re okay. But I miss weird things too. I see a toy at the store now and think, if I was a kid, that inanimate object would have been alive to me as a kid. You just don?t get that silly shit back as you get older.

K MURDOCK - Innocence of childhood, that?s what memories are for though?...

When you was listening to Talib Kweli and Mos Def?s ?Black Star? album, could you imagine that you would have an album on Rawkus yourself?

RAW POETIC - Well, as a teen, you always dreamt it. But this business leaves you so jaded that by the time I got there, I was more like, ?Okay, now what???...

K MURDOCK - I wanted to, but never expected it. It?s a dream come true even though this incarnation of Rawkus is NOT the same as before?... so it?s not fair to compare but indeed it?s a nice superlative to have on your rap sheet no doubt.

It?s indeed not the same label but still?...some underground fans are kinda suspicious towards Rawkus because of their problems in the past and their swing to commercialism; being signed to Rawkus yourself how do you interpret the label?s mission and today?s activities?

RAW POETIC - I would rather people to be more focused on what Panacea does as a group than what label we?re on. If we were on Universal, we would still make the same kind of music. Rawkus doesn?t make our sound, they signed us because of it. We took a chance with each other. Nobody knew us, and they had prior beefs with well-respected artists. But as two separate entities, I don?t get in their business like that, you know.

K MURDOCK - I know they are still about putting out good progressive hip-hop music, and from the stuff I have heard on the current roster I think Brian and Jarret have maintained the quality. Only time will tell what the end goal will be for the label and if these albums we drop will be venerated in the canon of music of the first run of Rawkus?...

Why did you decide to make a link between video games and a ?scenic route??

RAW POETIC - Well, K-Murdock and I discussed it, and my cousin PointBlank (Square 1) did the art. We?re into games like Final Fantasy and things of that nature. And with the script that was written for the album, we always thought it would be dope as a video game as well. But just going by the sound of it, Dock uses a lot of video game like sounds.

K MURDOCK - As mentioned earlier, we play mad games in our spare time so it was kind of a nod to what we do in our leisure and with ?The Scenic Route? having an adventurous story behind it, it made total sense?... just listen and you?ll see too (laughs).

There are a few other artists who run by the name ?Panacea?, anyone you are familiar with?

RAW POETIC - I?ve seen it around, but I don?t check for it like that. I mean, what are you gonna do.

K MURDOCK - I know there is a German drum ?n bass-producer with the moniker and someone on Myspace hit us up who shared the name too, but it was all love, like ?Yo, we got the name too and we like what you are doing?.

You?ve already mentioned it before; RPM aka ?Restoring Poetry In Music?, can you tell us who it is, when and how the group was founded?

RAW POETIC - My cousin Marlon (H2A) and I started it back in the day. And we knew we needed a band. We had many players coming in and out, but now the core is Aaron, Pat, H2A, K-Murdock, and yours truly Raw Poetic. Ha!

Are you working together on a regular basis still and is the album out yet?

RAW POETIC- Yes. RPM plays all the live music for Panacea as well as its original material. The untitled album is out. ?Pyramids in Moscow? is the name. And it dropped digitally August 1st.

KM - We (RPM) just dropped ?Pyramids of Moscow? last month for digital sale on iTunes, Rhapsody, etc so search for that. I produced half the record and think it?s a great compliment to TSR as it shows the way my sound is going. The other tracks produced by Raw P?s cousin H2A and our guitarist Patrick Fritz are my favourites. RPM is always around as when we perform as Panacea, RPM is our backing band plus all the dope instrumentation on TSR was furnished via the guys in the band, it?s a family affair.

And how do you guys divide your work between RPM and Panacea?

RAW POETIC - Ironically there?s never really a conflict. You just have to make sure everyone is getting their shine. Since Panacea is essentially Raw Poetic and K-Murdock, I make sure RPM is playing some originals every show as well as Panacea. It just gives people more to check out once the night is over. It?s truly a band of brothers. My approach is leave the ego at home or stay home. But it has never come to that with me and my squad.

K MURDOCK - Its funny because the groups coincide so much with both me and Raw P, but Panacea records more mainly because it?s easier to function as a two-man tandem than a six-piece band with musicians who write music, etc?... truth is Panacea started as a side project for us to do between RPM projects, for Raw P and I was between Crossrhodes but ironically, we have done 4 albums in less than 4 years. RPM albums take more time to craft but they are worth it as the sound is very distinct from Panacea but still complementing.

Which artists did bring poetry in their music?

RAW POETIC - Ahhh! Many! KRS 1, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Mos Def, Kweli, Black Thought, Nas, Common, Pharoahe Monch, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Beck?... The list goes on.

Any poets in hip-hop you want to mention in particular?

RAW POETIC - Oh- Saul Williams! There are a lot.

K MURDOCK - People I view as poets are Common, Mos Def, Kweli, Bahamadia, Pharoahe Monch, just to name a few?... I guess since the idea of rhyme is so heavily based on poet rhythms and cadences, almost every emcee or rapper has a bit of it in them?... from my observations.

K, could you tell us some more about The Crossrhodes?...?

K MURDOCK - Before this version of Panacea and me joining RPM, I was the 3rd member of the singing duo of W. Ellington Felton and Jive recording artists Raheem DeVaughn aka The Crossrhodes. After working with both on Elllington?s 2001 album ?Soul Sonnets?, we decided to do an album, and then another one?... the music is very soulful yet the concepts range and the guys chemistry is so dope, we haven?t done a new album since 2004 but I am tryin to do one, justa matter of coordination all our hectic schedules?.... Those guys are my homies so it?s all love.

I saw they are making Dutch pop? Euhm?... could you explain please?

K MURDOCK - That?s a joke, not serious at all! The vibe of the group is playful and mysterious, imagine an RnB version of Madlib?s Quasimoto persona minus the voice like that the whole time, it?s just different, soul based, but the 2nd album especially had mad styles?... to listen to it, check myspace and or message me, I got copies of the albums for sale?...

Raw Poetic, there are some pretty funny videos on your myspace, did you write the scripts?

RAW POETIC ?? (laughs) Nah, my favourite director Gabe Uhr ( www.faymprod.com ) writes and directs. He also did ?Poetry Bum?, ?Less is More?, and is doing RPM?s next video ?Grandpa?. You know, every rapper likes to act. I just like comedy.

K-Murdock, if you were forced to take one ATCQ album on a long-time ??deserted-island-holiday-trip, which one would it be ?Low End Theory? or ?Midnight Marauders? or should you prefer a Tribe compilation?

K MURDOCK - A compilation that would be compiled mainly of tracks from those two albums but I also got have joints like ?Push it Along? and ?Footprints? from the first album as well as tracks from the last two albums and who could forget a joint like ?Peace, Prosperity and Paper? from the ?High-school High? OST and those remixes?.... Definitely a huge compilation or iPod playlist (which I actually have).

?Mood Muzik? is a series of instrumental releases with each time the tile of a season?...is your music greatly influenced by seasons?

K MURDOCK?? ?Mood Muzik? is gonna be a series of instrumental EP?s I?ll be releasing every few months to keep the buzz hot and give the people some music. Each volume is a different theme, it made sense to start with the seasons because it?s common, but I plan to take these all over the place musically and yes, in regards to Volume 1?... the beats and music will reflect the vibe of the seasons?.... I just released Summer which sounds more warm and hot and revolves around girls because I have had most of summer situations over the years be with women I was dating, etc. Check www.myspace.com/neosonicprod to cop it!

In our end-of-the year inquiry you guys both expressed the wish to see progression in hip-hop, have you seen any progression lately, if so, could you name some artists?

RAW POETIC - K-Os has been one the most progressive in my opinion. But, sometimes I?ll listen to K-Murdock?s radio show and just think, ?Wow, there are still some really progressive cats out there. Beautiful!?.

K MURDOCK - Indeed, the biggest sign came just a few days back when Common?s ?Finding Forever? was #1 on Billboard?s Top 200?... that?s amazing?... 14 years and 7 albums later, the artists formerely known as Sense is #1?.... That?s a very encouraging sign, and I think Kanye will do REAL well too!!

Panacea is the goddess of cures?... what needs to be cured first and foremost in music?

RAW POETIC - Individuality!!!

K MURDOCK - We need to promote more individuality back in the music and encourage more progression, be it in the music, techniques, etc?... that?s how music will evolve. Right now, what?s being sold to the people is so myopic, we need open it back up and promote taking risks and being creative?.... and to be real specific, less 808s and cheesy handclaps?.... More musicality.

What?s your first rap record?

RAW POETIC - The first one I personally own was ?Fear of a Black Planet!? Unfortunately that was plagued by ?Flava of Love?.

KM - My uncle got me Whodini?s ?Friends/Freaks Come Out?...? 12?? when I was like 5 or 6. Wish I had taken better care of it.

Could you comment on the following names please?

Quincy Jones
RAW POETIC - Docs favourite producer and an all-around genius.
K MURDOCK - LEGEND, the GOAT as far as music?... and I?m proud to admit, a friend of mine!

Point Blank
RAW POETIC - He IS the visual aspect of Panacea and basically the dopest artists I know and somebody we should all see more work from?... ill emcee as well.
K MURDOCK - Raw Poetic?s cousin, one of the best unknown fantasy artist, best battle MC I?ve ever met, and partner in rhyme.

Bill Murray
RAW POETIC - Dude! ??Bill Mutha Fuckin Murray!!?? One of my favourite actors.
K MURDOCK - One of my favourite actors, because he seems like he?s so real that I don?t feel like he?s acting?... loved him in ?Life Aquatic?.

Doug Lazy
RAW POETIC - What this music needs.
K MURDOCK - One of the coolest cats I know. A man with a deep music history in dance and rap, but he is so humble about it. He?s actually my studio mate at work and one hell of a ?Gears of War? player?... BANG BANG!!

RAW POETIC - Beautiful weapon. Sexy Ninja chick!
K MURDOCK - one of my favourite songs on TSR, and one of the sharpest things you?ll ever see!

What?s next for you guys?

RAW POETIC - More albums, more stories, Raw Poetic Solo, New Panacea, Raw Poetic and Point Blank album, K-Murdock solos
K MURDOCK - More albums?... be it solo, side stuff, Panacea, RPM, sky is the limit?...


RAW POETIC - P-Fritz, Aaron (Enron) Gause, H2A, Drew, Jon Laine, Mark ?Fundog?, Adam ?Smart Ass? HJopkins- RPM, K MURDOCK - My mom and brother, Raw P, the band, KB and my XM friends, my boys and a special redhead who continues to take an active interest in all I do, even though she knows I?m a look at times?.... Thank you all! Love.



POSTED 08|19|2007
conducted by cpf

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