Raw Poetic on “Laminated Skies” and Trusting His Collaborators | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, October 2nd, 2022  

Raw Poetic on “Laminated Skies” and Trusting His Collaborators

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Mar 18, 2022 Photography by Earl Davis
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A veteran of Washington, D.C.’s earlier era hip-hop scene, with projects such as RPM and Panacea, Raw Poetic (aka Jason Moore), surrounds himself with world class level collaborators on his debut album for Def Pressè, Laminated Skies. Though many of the tracks have recorded beats that Moore assembled himself, most of the music on the album is contributed by live musicians and Moore switches fluidly from melodious rhymes to sung vocals throughout. Instrumentation is not what you would expect to find from an artist raised on rap either. His primary collaborator over the years, Damu the Fudgemunk (Earl Davis), supplies many of those unexpected sounds. Other players include Luke Stewart on bass and Patrick Fritz on guitar.

“Damu added different drums, melodica, vibraphone, a lot of stuff,” Moore explains. “He’s like the maintenance man at night. You go home and the office is brand new the next day. I’m like Batman and he’s like Alfred. He just cleans up.”

On the album’s title, Moore says, “I’m a teacher, so when we laminate things it’s glossy and fluorescent and beautiful. Life can be pretty drab at times, so I wanted to gloss it up and see if these songs can make people feel better.”

Moore was born in Philadelphia to parents who were active in the Black Panther party, but his father died when Moore was an infant. His mother practiced the Muslim faith for some time and Moore’s earliest memory of music was the Islamic call to prayer. “The first music I heard was the Adhan where you have to call everybody to prayer,” he remembers. “I had to learn Arabic and then I had to learn that song. That was my introduction to singing and then when I wanted to rap with my cousins, it just all blended together. One of my cousins told me, ‘You want to be a great rapper? Stop listening to so much rap.’”

Moore defines his music as a grab bag of sounds from a myriad of genres, one of which is improvisational jazz where he’s been influenced by his uncle. His mother’s older brother is the legendary avant-garde saxophonist Archie Shepp, who was active during the civil rights movement. Moore, Damu, and Shepp collaborated on 2020’s Ocean Bridges album. “I knew Archie when I was a kid, but I never realized how famous he was,” says Moore. “I remember being in a Tower Records one day and there was a whole section with all these Archie records. My mom sang background on [Shepp’s 1971 album] Things Have Got to Change, so it was cool for it all to come back around to do a record with him.”

In part, Laminated Skies was influenced by Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man that details Ellison’s struggles to fit in with any community—Black or otherwise. The song “Ralph Ellison” pulls from that concept, but Moore is careful to make his music universal and stays away from the strictly topical items of the day. Though much has transpired in the world since Moore put these songs together starting in 2019, he wouldn’t change his message at all.

“I try to leave out pop culture references, modern slang, and just focus on my place and how I feel about the world,” Moore explains. “Speaking of D.C. guys, if you ever listen to Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On,’ it’s still relevant today. I try to use that same formula in everything I do.”

Moore shares that there is much more music that he has composed in his vaults and being a constant creator, he has also authored a children’s book that only lacks for a publisher. “It’s about a tortoise and a cockroach and based on the Underground Railroad. The tortoise is in captivity and the cockroach says, ‘Come through the walls, I’m going to show you freedom.’ It’s a big, funny escape heist type of story, but it’s really a freedom story for the tortoise,” Moore says.

Laminated Skies closes with it’s most pop oriented and inspirational song, “Cadillac.” Moore also spends time as an elementary school teacher, and the song got its start riffing off one of his student’s difficulties learning their nine times table. The song goes from first noticing girls at age nine to the song’s closing, as the protagonist’s partner starts to fade at 81. It’s a song filled with both nostalgia and a look far into the future. Moore admits the song is somewhat autobiographical, but also says, “I’d rather be Stephen King than the character in the story. That song is my magician set right there.” The magic of blending genres, along with live instrumentation and recorded beats abounds on Laminated Skies.

Laminated Skies is out today.


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