Feature: Raw Poetic gives us a track by track lowdown on his new album Laminated Skies

Out today is the new, sixth, album from Jason Moore, aka Raw Poetic. The nephew of legendary jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp, and with both parents members of the original Black Panther movement, Moore has impeccable hip-hop credentials, and he’s once again roped in long time collaborator Earl Davis aka Damu the Fudgemunk, alongside guests Pat ’P’ Fritz on guitar and Luke Stewart on Bass.

The resulting album ’Laminated Skies’, was recorded in the sweltering heat of 2019 at Windom studios in Brentwood, Maryland, produced by Damu who added an incredible range of instrumentation including live and programmed drums, strings, vibraphone, kalimba, melodica, vinyl scratching and synthesisers.

The album draws on many elements, from jazz to funk to spirituals, to Ralph Ellison’s novel The Invisible Man. jJason says of the recording process “I was an English major, Luke is a jazz
bassist, Pat a classically trained guitarist, and Earl brought in a wealth of knowledge that
funneled us through a direction that worked.”

Out today on London label Def Pressé, Laminated Skies is a personal record that seems set to really push his legact forward. Jason gave us the lowdown on the album as a whole, and its individual componants. Press okay on the link, and read on….

When I first wrote this album, as with most of my albums, I didn’t know how anyone would take it. I still can’t fully describe what kind of album this is. 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 NOVA. Sometimes it’s invisible, other times invincible. Sometimes loved, sometimes hurt. It was finished for a year before I let my good friend Earl (Damu the Fudgemunk) even hear it. I was already well into the follow up album thinking he wouldn’t be into this either. But to my surprise, he said, “I think we can do something with this.” And once we got started mixing and matching ideas, well… it became something that I am very proud of.

1. Open Roads – “See I never see them elite,” are the first lyrics on the song. My mother always said she never liked people who think they are better than her. And neither do I. So it was my way of telling everyone who hears it, we are all allowed to have a voice. I was creating an open road for me to travel. Sound like no one, be yourself, and do what you feel. And so the journey begins.

2. Chewing Gum – This song was meant to be a departure from hip-hop, then literally swings back. I wanted to keep the music spacey and the lyrics sparse. It was like bringing the audience into this new world, while explaining my hometown of NOVA. “Space your heart like the stars,” kind of sums it up. I have a lot of alone time because I’m such a hermit, and I don’t trust a lot of people. So I was very in my head while writing this song. I wrote a lot of atmospheric chords for this song, but the drums… The drums were inviting back the Raw Poetic within me. At one point, I got bored with the music, and I took out all of the music except for the drums. That’s when I just started rapping. And I wrote the long last verse to explain my frustration with myself and how we look at each other. But also to show that I know what I’m doing on the mic.

3. Ralph Ellison – This is one of my favorite songs I’ve written…. so far. I love the book “Invisible Man” but I wanted it to be no mistake what this song was about. So I named it after the artist who wrote it. Speaking as a black man, it’s about feeling invisible in a society. Socially and politically. But as a teacher, I’ve spoken to many kids who grow up feeling this way. So I tried to write a song for anyone who goes through this experience growing up. Sometimes less is more, therefore I tried to keep the lyrics very minimal, and let the violins really explore the emotion of the piece. And with the drums Damu added, it has this very hip-hop, yet Pollyanna/ Color Purple feel to it. It’s a strange but beautiful piece to me. I know. I’m a weirdo baby.

4. Guide – I originally didn’t have these songs next to each other, because it was like 3 parts to the same song. But when I asked Damu to arrange the album, he somehow put them all back together. I don’t think he even knows this yet. This is the escape. This is me sitting outside, overlooking the washing monument from the park down the street from my janky apartment, and celebrating my isolation. I’ve spent many nights down there (especially after break ups) contemplating how my mind works and keeps messing things up. At this point, I just spoke from the heart.

5. Intertwined – Intertwined was the third part of the trilogy of Ralph Ellison and Guide. This was about the connection of where our music comes from; being a part of a long lineage of musicians I come from to who I am today. It was a way of letting myself know that I am never alone as long as I continue this legacy. Letting some parts of myself fall to the waste side, allows me to embrace the next level of my musicianship, and helps complete the narrative of who I am.

9. Sunny Water – This song has a nice digital feel. I always saw Zendaya dancing to this song for some reason. Even when I was writing the beat. The bass line has the warm drive that I always dug, and so once again I told myself, “Speak, but allow the beat to speak also.” In order for me to do this, I approached it from a singers perspective, and only brought in the rap flow to work almost as a hook. I wanted people to anticipate it. My guitar line kind of drove it, but I still needed more. So when I asked my good friend Patrick Fritz to play, I knew he would add that extra level of catchiness to the tune. And as usual, he nailed it. I knew it was a single from day one. The premise of the song was all about reflection. Not a deep reflection, just a look at how the world sees you. So I thought of a lake on a sunny day. What looks back at you when you look out into the world?

10. Hey Autumn – This song probably grooves the most on this album. It has a very live feel. Luke once again killed it on bass. Damu on drums, and Pat on guitar. It felt like my old days in DC playing live shows. The lyrics were mainly about how people like us come about. I was born, my father died, and my mother loved me as much as she could. That was the intro. From there, I began coloring in the world, and just kept going. I think this song is me in my most natural element. And the jam just kept going. Since recording this, I’ve been wanting to return to the stage. We’ll see what happens.

11. Reflected Pearls – This song was a foreshadow to the last songs. I just felt good making the music. It is a very different song for me, but I didn’t feel it was like anything from before. I was literally just searching my mind to see what would come from it. I found myself playing with something new, and so I spoke to it. And although it felt new and different, it felt very much like home. What I realized was that it was the sound of all the guys I played music with, who have influenced and encouraged me to make my own music in my own style. I always feel good when I hear this one.

12. Cadillac – This is the ride out. It was the last song I recorded for this album. My friends always tell me this one brings a tear to their eye. Lol. Who knows? The premise of the song was a culmination of all the girls I’ve dated in my life, and if we actually made it work instead of breaking up. What if we didn’t break up? So it’s a fantasy of if I married Superwoman. Since I didn’t, by the end of the song, I erase everything in typical Jason fashion, and let Pat play it out. I based the ages off of the number 9 because I had a student who was having trouble with their 9 timetables. I like to do things for people that they’ll never know. This song was for a select few women who will never know how I truly feel. The nine timetables were for a lesson that some kid will never hear. But it was fun.

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