Album of the Week
Raw Poetic & Damu the Fudgemunk - Laminated Skies
We find ourselves in a time where hip hop can often feel like it has lost its way, straying from its roots, the five elements becoming a thing of the past, with over-produced-yet-watered-down commercial trash chasing yesterday's trends and flooding the scene with unoriginal, half-baked, soulless and ultimately meaningless music. (*Insert old man yells at cloud here*). This makes records like Laminated Skies by MC Raw Poetic and veteran producer Damu The Fudgemunk all the more a breath of fresh air - the definition of keeping it real.
For the uninitiated, Raw Poetic has some musical royalty in his family, being the nephew of legendary jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp (who he worked with alongside Damu on 2019’s improvised Ocean Bridges), and has been self-releasing music since first teaming up with Damu in 2012 for Killawatt. From there, he’s released a number of full-length albums, but Laminated Skies marks his first, official studio album on a label - a very long time coming.
Damu also has music in his family, with both parents being musos and him turning his hand to making beats as a teenager in the mid-late 90s, building up to his acclaimed debut album, 2007’s Travel at Your Own Pace (a reminder we all need from time to time), that delighted listeners with it’s reverence of the total artform of hip-hop - and plenty of jazz and soul samples alongside liberal cuts and scratches.
Having worked together on several releases over the last decade, you get the sense Raw & Damu know each other intimately on a musical level - and on Laminated Skies, it really shows. Live instrumentation meets samples, as the duo brought back the same players (bass, drums & guitar) from the Ocean Bridges sessions, with the result an incredible blend of funk, rock, soul, dance music, poetry and pop - all underpinned by hip-hop foundations, of course.
After releasing music for this long, Raw Poetic aka Jason Moore has crafted his most personal, emotional lyrics to date, saying “I still can’t fully describe what kind of album this is so I’ve now reserved myself to telling people it’s a “Jason” album. I wanted to tell people what the hell is going on through my head sometimes; how I feel as a guy from Northern Virginia. Sometimes it’s invisible, other times invincible. Sometimes loved, sometimes hurt. Once we got started mixing and matching ideas, well… it became something that I am very proud of.”
Very proud he should be indeed. Across Laminated Skies’ nine tracks, Raw constantly finds himself in the pocket of each and every production, adapting his vocal delivery around each beat and showing his range. Equally comfortable singing soulful hooks as he is spitting tongue twisting bars, his skills as a singer, rapper and poet take Damu’s productions to the next level, resulting in a fresh and addictive listen from start to finish.
A landmark moment in both artists careers and a new benchmark for the duo, Laminated Skies show two genuine, genius hip-hop minds at the height of their powers, leaving one main thought at the end of each listen - damn I need to hear this record performed live one day, we can only hope…
Raw Poetic & Damu The Fudgemunk's new album Laminated Skies is out now via Def Pressé
The best of the rest of this week's records:
Babeheaven - Sink Into Me [Independent] ENG
Soul / Indie
Blue States - World Contact Day [Memphis Industries] ENG
Indie / Alternative
Bogdan Raczynski [Planet Mu] USA
Charli XCX - CRASH [Warner Music Australia] ENG
Cypress Hill - Back in Black [Cypress Hill Musik] USA
Death by Denim - Moonbow [ADA] AUS
Indie / Pop
Josh Pyke - To Find Happiness [Sony Music Australia] AUS
Indie / Folk
Kruger James - Lucky I'm Already Down [Independent] AUS
Midlake - For the Sake of Bethel Woods [Bella Union] USA
Indie / Alternative
Pinch Points - Process [Mistletone] AUS
Punko - Plants Singing [Dinsoaur City Records] AUS
Electronic / Pop
The Mackerels - Driving Under [Indie] AUS
Yumi Zouma - Present Tense [[PIAS] Australia] NZ