too fore won – Panacea x 2


I’ve had intentions to share my thoughts on Panacea’s recent release, The Scenic Route (here or here for the digital download), for a few weeks now. And those intentions are still aroused. However, I’ve found a slight detour to the new album, by way of an “unreleased” debut that I found about the time The Scenic Route dropped.

It was actually on the C-Box of WTR where I had noticed two cats discussing the Thinking Back, Looking Forward EP (2003), which includes the amazing “Birdfeather.” One the dudes posted a link (which I can’t find now) which made mention to a previous LP which shared the same title, which apparently came out (although was never “officially” released) before the EP. “?!” I thought. I scoured the internet (and alternately, the interweb) and found nothing, other than the link that he had posted. So I went to the source. Once there I emailed K-Murdock from Panacea, and he not only confirmed Thinking Back, Looking Forward the LP’s existence, but also hooked me up (via paypal) with the album.

Hence, you’re going to get a double shot of Panacea.

LOOKING BACK, THINKING FORWARD LP (n.d.) – The short: Includes all 5 tracks from the EP version from ’03; this is good news! The remaining 13 tracks are spotted with brief interludes, which play off the “journey” theme of looking back, thinking forward, and thoughtful beats & rhymes. This project seems a bit more sample-influenced (at least they’re more overt) than any of the subsequent albums, and perhaps this may be a reason the album never saw an “official” release. Take for example, “Screenplay/Star Stories,” which uses Heatwaves’ “Star of the Story,” a melodic narrative about one’s development as a person. Consistent with much of the Raw P’s work, it’s devoid of popular hip hop, egocentrism: “If I’m the star of my story, don’t center the camera on me/I’m a chain of events combined & realized before me.” Ultimately, the track is a journey of man/music of sorts, with Raw P & W. Ellington Felton, as the narrators, the stars of this story – the implications being that the star is a subjective role occupied by the storyteller(s) splayed across a common canvas. Another strong “newcomer” is “Classic.” Fed with a Native Tongue-esque drum- and bassline, the track works as an ode to classic hip hop, “F*ck this pop pop, give me that beat drop…” “Classic” is followed by two EP tracks, “Colorful Storms” & “Freedom Theory,” both “classic” Panacea tracks by my esteem. Love the very visual chorus of the former, supported by Bilal Salaam. “Heartache” is another track that features that “signature” Panacea sound, where Raw P reflects on the relationship between music and the hearts of its listeners/creators. Thinking Back, Looking Forward the LP is a great introduction (or prequel) to K-Murdock’s soulful production with its inconspicuous use of samples (some quite well known I’d reckon) and Raw P’s honest reflections, which also rhymes (makes for a nice hip hop album).

THE SCENIC ROUTE (2007) – This most recent serving of Panacea continues the reflective approaches heard on Thinking Back, Looking Forward and Ink Is My Drink. The relationship between K-Murdock’s production and Raw P’s rhymes intrigue me – it’s a rarity to be appreciated when you have a producer-emcee who compliment each other so well (think Pete Rock & CL); The Scenic Route demonstrates further development of this intangible coop. Right from the get go, “The Scenic Route” gets the album going, immediately sounding like a Camp Lo track, before recessing back to a soulful head-nodder, sampling Dr. Buzzard’s “Sunshower,” previously used by the likes of ATCQ and most recently, MIA. “Flashback to Stardom,” one of my favorite tracks on the album follows (incidentally featuring one of my favorite R&B voices in Raheem Devaughn). The track bellows with positivity and that sharp Raw P flow; I’m really feelin’ Devaughn’s epilogue where he sings of the boundlessness of life: “Sky high is the limit…wanna be a doctor, you can do it too; wanna be a ballplayer, do it too; wanna be a teacher, you can do it too…” (Reminds of the end of Common’s BE). Check this review from Hip Hop Connection. The reviewer uses the term “hip hip ethics,” which I really like, and may adopt, e.g. the approach Ohmega Watts takes toward music. With The Scenic Route, that’s really what we have – a balance between all that is hip hop, imbued with a social and personal awareness. Also listen to tracks like “Pops Said,” positive look at the role of a man’s pops (again, check Common out and get a dose of this), and “Walk In The Park,” which I’ve already noted works like a subtle parallel between love and a walk through a park (this analogy may also be interpreted from the album’s title). As with previous Panacea projects, the major draw of The Scenic Route is the soulful, yet hip hop sound K-Murdock sets up and listening to Raw P go “ethical” all over it. Again & again, you’ll hear him paint personal stories reflective of more general stories (refer back to Screenplay/Star Stories) – I think that’s a quality many emcees miss: the ability to convey a feeling by creating shared experiences through personal stories. It’s hard to conceptualize, let alone do through music. Raw P truly is a storyteller.


4 Responses to “too fore won – Panacea x 2”

  1. G$ Says:

    Nice reviews. If you’re interested in learning more about the concept and production behind The Scenic Route, check out the Panacea Spoiler’s series on youtube:

  2. Peter Squire Says:

    yeah, i just discovered them…thanks for the heads up though…watching the spoilers reminds me of how much I didn’t get, haha

  3. Billy Says:

    Would there be any possiblity you could hook us up with the Thinking Back, Looking Forward LP link?

  4. Peter Squire Says:

    Sorry B; I assured K Murdock in our email exchanges that I wouldn’t disperse it over the net. I suggest you hit up Panacea’s myspace and get it via paypal. It’s definitely worth a purchase.

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