Meet Odin/Udini, the Rapper
By Donte Kirby
Odin Palacio better known as “ Udini La Voz,” the bilingual (English/Spanish) rapper represents Panama everywhere he goes, using his music to bridge the cultural divide between those who speak Spanish and English. Before there was an 808 (drum machine, associated with hip hop) and a mic, there was a ball and a court.
Basketball brought Palacio from San Miguel, in the heart of Panama, to Homestead, Florida, when he was 16. In 2000, Palacio,(sharing the same name as his father), an only child, left La Magnolia, housing development area , where he lived with his mother, Graciela Arancibia , the woman who shaped him into the person he is today. His mother was scared for her son, after the murder of his best friend. Palacio’s pain brought him to the point where, in front of his mother, he screamed, “I’m going to kill whoever did that to my best friend.”
“The night before I left Panama it was really hard to sleep. I couldn’t believe that I’m 16 years’ old and I’m going to leave it all behind to start a new life by myself.”
In Florida, Berkshire High School was a melting pot of cultures, overflowing with international students. Palacio had to navigate not only the cultural barriers but also the language barrier.
“It was very uncomfortable not being able to speak the language. I would feel left out a lot of times. When people were laughing and I didn’t understand what they were laughing for, I would feel like they were laughing at me, even though they weren’t.”
Palacio’s life revolved around basketball for years, hopping from high school to high school trying to find the right program, then junior colleges to finally a few four-year universities. A big change came when, Palacio was in a car accident that left him with three fractures in his neck and skull. This experience distanced him from his beloved basketball. Yet, basketball still guided Palacio to his next passion that drives his life today – music and rapping.
One day, a teammate who would often freestyle and wrote down rhymes in a notebook sat Palacio down and explained the process of writing down lyrics and bars on paper.
Years later, Palacio’s goal for his first album, “Me and My Musika,” was to break down cultural barriers. Palacio and his producers Anis Taylor (AT Soundz) and Travis Ruscil (Dappolis) together create a sound that thematically and rhythmically incorporates their diversity.
“No matter whose under one roof they’re all going to move to the same sound. They’re not going to feel left out.”
“…. I used to download instrumentals and just practice over that. I used to write in all Spanish because I couldn’t rap in English back then.”
Working together on tracks for, “Me and My Musika” was the birth of the label and production house, Higher Than 7. Palacio, Taylor and Ruscil vowed to never release a track they all didn’t agree rated higher than seven.
“Our thing is, if we’re going to do something why not keep everything in house,” said Taylor about why they decided to build a label and production company with Higher Than 7. “We can create our own opportunities.”
In order to create more opportunities Palacio became more active in the tri-state, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Latino community. He became a host for PhillyCAM’s Atrévete, a board member of the Panama International Tri-State Alliance, and a frequent public speaker at high schools in the tri-state area. As board member, Palacio, along with Judy Winter, President of the Alliance, they supported the Panamanian flag being raised at Philadelphia’s City Hall, Nov 4, 2016.
Winter had this to say about Palacio, “He is more in touch with the people. So he can help the Alliance find more Panamanians and direct them to the Alliance.”
As an artist, Palacio’s music is a bridge he uses to connect with others. As an independent musician, his connection to his audience and community is paramount to his success.
“I’ve been knocking on doors. I’ve been asking people for opportunities. I don’t do that anymore.
“I just work hard and those doors I knocked on before, today they’re opening on their own.”