Raw Poetic is best known as one half of the on hiatus duo Panacea who released a string of classic underground albums in the 2000’s. Charlie Brown’s Parents is his first solo album and like other artists who have broken away from their original platform, the shift to a new sound can often be a time of great transition. On the one hand, you have fans who want to hear a continuation of their favourite styles, but the artists themselves are often looking to create a new vision.
When CL Smooth split from Pete Rock he struggled to make the classics that made him such an integral figure of 90’s Hip-Hop. Charlie Brown’s Parents is Raw P’s effort to avoid these pitfalls and make a confident record with a unique identity. The album is ten tracks with no skits or interludes, an unusual format in today’s hip-hop world saturated with extensive amounts of filler. Furthermore he produced all the music himself, composing most of the instrumentals by playing the guitar and experimenting with synthesizers and other progressive techniques.
The album opens with the song ‘Arc’, which boasts a fast tempo indie sound. This isn’t a straight Hip-Hop album, but rather a hybrid of introspective rap and indie. Raw P sings his own hooks and blurs the line between rapping and singing on his verses. The most captivating aspect of the song is his lyrics, which seek to be more daring than the many commercial releases regurgitating mundane topics. This track addresses subjects such as the cosmos and time, as well as life itself; a direction which makes for compelling listening.
In a sense, Raw Poetic is looking to stretch his artistry to the limits by not relying on any guest features or outside influences (other than a select few musicians in his inner circle). The albums second song ‘Outburst’, is a more laid back melodic affair featuring plenty of singing from Raw P, who doesn’t shy away from attempting to achieve a greater vocal range with each chorus. It is a love song but invokes a 60’s “hippy” vibe with references to the soul and an exploration of sex. There is a very personal feel to the album thus far, with the songs delivering much of Raw P’s inner thoughts and observations.
‘Mystical Moonchild’ is my favourite song on the album thus far, lines like “mystic moon, you came and left soon, and blocked my sun’s noon” create a psychedelic aesthetic, with the hook also making for a great sing-along moment. As much as I admire Raw P for his willingness to experiment, his talents are best displayed with his fast paced lyricism. The verses on this track feature pure rapping, which for a hip-hop enthusiast like myself, make for the most exciting high points of the album.
‘Choking On Air’ is a radical departure from the rest of the LP in that it features a more electronic sound. This is also a great political protest song, a rallying cry for the masses without the heaviness you associate with an anti-establishment piece. It packs a message, but feels more like Bob Dylan in spirit than Rage Against The Machine. Even though Raw P doesn’t rap on this one, it stays interesting by incorporating a really cool haunting harmony offset by dark guitar riffs. The echos and eerie vocal tricks really succeed in making this a creative bright spark.
‘Train Tracking’ continues in a similar lyrical vein to other songs on the album whilst blending well with an almost mystical sounding guitar instrumental. It leads nicely into the last two songs ‘Dwindlen Books’ and ‘Sugary Soup’. Raw Poetic is an atheist and these tracks speak mostly of his thoughts regarding god and the search for the meaning of life. For another artist these topics may prove too challenging, but on Charlie Brown’s Parents, they fit perfectly with the overall mood of the LP. Raw P may not have all the answers but he can phrase the questions better than other philosophical emcees.