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Panacea Ink Is My Drink GITD/Rawkus • 2006

Since a decade or so, because of hip-hop turning its back to its past and joining Puffy on a commercial rollercoaster, a persistent and almost pitiful call for our beloved music genre to return to the golden mid-school ages of Pete Rock&CL Smooth, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest has been echoing through hip-hop communities, Internet fora, B-boy living rooms and rap aficionados’ gathering spots. 'We gotta return to the good ol days', is a common-heard advice. At one hand understandable, at the other rather incomprehensible if you ask us, since those people ignore a whole reactionary movement that started with the Rawkus label’s fame and fortune (and downfall) and continues through its descendents by the likes of UpAbove, FemaleFun, ABB Records and Stones Throw, to name only a few of course.

Nah, hip-hop never forgot its roots and anno 2006, acts that sound like the aforementioned mid-school groups are more rule than exception. On top of that, Rawkus is back with a direction that totally recalls its early period and heydays, with a roster of artists who are free to go their own way in music and, are able to, because of their creativity. Besides the tasteful releases of The Procussions and Kidz In The Hall, Panacea’s latest record, which is released in conjunction with Glow-In-The-Dark (another great label that supports the back-to-the-real movement), is a solid release that resurrects that smooth, jazzy and eclectic approach of hip-hop, comparable to this year released albums from groups such as Tanya Morgan, Basic Vocab, Deux Process and, this Chicagoan duo which Panacea reminds most of, Modill.

Panacea therefore brings nothing new, but what they bring is most enjoyable. From the eerie piano-tinged boombap of 'Invisible Seas', the whirring strings and whining sax of 'Steel Kites', the cheerful soul of 'Work Of Art', the 70s funk of 'Burning Bush' and the psychedelic up-tempo closer 'Starlite', producer K-Murdock proves to be a student of the mid-School, while MC Raw Poetic accompanies the beats with imaginary, lush and chilled-out lyrics with a flow that isn’t spectacular but warm and recognizable. The tracks mentioned are merely picked at random by us, because the album doesn’t have any stand-out tracks: not a bad sign at all, but a proof that 'Ink Is My Drink' remains attractive to the listener throughout the whole 47-minute ride with tracks that are each other’s equal in sound and words. Take the extremely down-tempo song 'Coulda Woulda Shoulda' for instance, whose interesting storyline and attractive sound composition of guitars, bass line and achy chorus manages to still fully gain your attention, or the curious voice sample of Carl Douglas’ 'Everybody’s Was Kung-Fu Fighting' not even sounds mushy but is genuine sampling.

People who’re still searchin for hip-hop that sounds like some good ol mid-school jazzy smoothness have clearly missed out on some albums this year, not to mention Panacea’s latest. This album truly celebrates the promising route that Rawkus is about to follow again, so watch out Puff, the underground is takin over.


POSTED ON 11|09|2006 by cpf

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