The DC duo, Panacea, deliver their sophomore release, The Scenic Route, on Rawkus & Glow-In-The-Dark Records. With a clear progression in The Scenic Route from their last (Ink Is My Drink), producer K Murdock and MC Raw Poetic bring a unique alternative to the Hip-Hop soundscape. WHO?MAG sat down with the group to discuss how they formed, the new album and what it means to be signed to the legendary Rawkus Records.
interview by Will Hernandez

WHO?MAG: How did you guys come together?
K Murdoch: This is always a pretty funny story. We have a coworker here named Corey, because Raw Poetic and I work at the same place too. A long friend of his was a coworker of mine a few years ago and he introduced us. I happened to be telling him I was working with more R&B singers back in 2002 and 2003. I was telling Corey I’d like some emcees to work with because hip hop is what I really want to do and not this neosoul stuff all the time. He was roommates with a guy who was Raw Poetic who raps and is part of a hip hop band. We got introduced and I gave him a beat CD. It had 10 beats on there and the only one that he liked was the one I thought he wouldn’t like at all. We wound up recording it and it became the first song we ever did called “Bird Feather” and the rest is history. Four years later, here we are now.

WHO?MAG: Talk me about the album Scenic Route?
Raw Poetic: It is an album that I really like. It’s a concept album with dope stories that are behind it. It gets a little trippy, but very easy to follow the exact plot. We incorporated our band and it’s pretty dope.
K Murdoch: Raw Poetic summed it up, but you can listen to it for two different layers. You can listen to it on the superficial layer with good production, good emceeing, and really cool lyricism, or you can really get into it and follow the songs and check out the actual story being told to you.

WHO?MAG: So you produced the whole album?
K Murdoch: Everything by Panacea is produced by me, K Murdoch, because if I’m not producing it, it’s not a Panacea record. It’s just Raw Poetic with somebody else. That’s something I want everybody to understand. We are going to have Panacea remixes by outside producers like DJ Spinna, Nicolay, and DJ Numark from Jurassic 5, but that’s separate. Anything you get from this album intentionally is us two on it. That’s what I do, like the Gangstarr and Pete Rock and CL Smooth kind of tip.

WHO?MAG: What kind of equipment do you use?
K Murdoch: That’s funny. You’re the first person to ask me that,which is pretty cool. I use the MPC2000XL which is one that a lot of producers use. It pops up in a lot of producer’s arsenal of production gear, but I also recently got into using MIDI and a cool MIDI keyboard. I use a lot of Arteria VST plug-ins, like the analog factory to make a lot of the crazy synths, but I actually like analog synthesizers made by Alesis called an Ion and of course records. I sample anything: video games, records, animated movies, DVDs, and CDs. Anything I can get a good sound off of and I can flip it, but the MPC is the core of my studio.

WHO?MAG: How did you guys get signed to Rawkus?
Raw Poetic: It was Glow in the Dark records. They did a joint venture with them. That’s all it is.
K Murdoch: The Rawkus guys were checking are stuff out actually when we first got interest from Glow in the Dark. Jaysonic from the label had been talking to Brian Braer, one half of the duo of Rawkus. They had been talking for a while and it took up until last summer for all the ink to dry. That’s when we put out the album “No Pun Intended: Ink is my Trick” through the joint venture. This is the second one to come out through the joint venture, then it’s back to the negotiations table.

WHO?MAG: How does it feel being on Rawkus due to the labels history?
Raw Poetic: It’s cool you know?
K Murdoch: It’s real cool because of the history of the label. That’s one thing I want to clear up. This is a whole other Rawkus. It’s not the Rawkus from the ’99 era with all the Soundbombings and Mos Def. It’s still classic material coming out. I’d like to think we’re contributing to the new era of classic Rawkus material. A lot of things have changed with the industry and the setup of the label. Some good and some bad things, but overall, I think there’s going to be a new legacy. Having that razor blade in the back of your CD is not something a lot of people can say.

WHO?MAG: As a producer will you get a chance to look through the Rawkus archives and sample of the stuff?
K Murdoch: I wish! That’s actually a pretty good idea. I’d love to see if I can get my hands on acapellas; rare ones from Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Pharaoh Monch and all those guys and see if I can do some modern remixes. That’s actually a pretty fly ass idea. I might have to run that by the guys.