Quincy Palmer bounces on his seat and grits his teeth in excitement as Kendrick Lamar’s mixtape, Overly Dedicated, fills the dimly lit radio station. Five minutes till airtime.
He is prepping for Real Rap, one of his two new radio shows on 90.3 FM WESS.
“Nobody comes in there playing hip-hop,” says Palmer as he discusses Real Rap’s contribution to WESS and campus diversity.
“Seems like what I’m doing is a fresh thing.” As the host of the only hip-hop show, he receives widespread support from the station’s other programs, which range from indie to alternative rock.
Never one to shy away from an opportunity, Palmer asked himself the courageous “why not?” when he considered joining the WESS team this semester.
After co-hosting the talk radio show Link Up on Gynesis Radio in 2017, he was eager to return to the mic with a different concept.
“I wanted to do something that was different. I listen to albums; that’s how I usually listen to music. I don’t like listening to [music] on shuffle…so I get to know albums pretty well,” Palmer begins. “And I’m just like, well why don’t I just play an album…but I can also give an insightful, interesting show.”
It is a seemingly simple formula motivated by unbridled passion, yet there is more to the process.
When Palmer analyzes a song, he dissects various elements: rhyme scheme, production, wordplay, substance and cultural impact.
The first few shows explored Nas and Biggie, and he hopes to play Outkast and A Tribe Called Quest in the coming weeks.
Although he understands the importance of classic hip-hop to Real Rap’s essence, Palmer does not intend to limit his content. Listeners can expect to hear modern hip-hop and R&B too.
As expected, his relationship with hip-hop is an age-old love affair. When Palmer was 4-years-old, his father gifted him with a Walkman cassette player.
His tape of choice was Ja Rule’s 2001 Pain Is Love album — a deliciously dangerous treasure Grandma snatched from his prepubescent ears.
In light of Real Rap’s emergence, one question cannot be ignored: Can listeners appreciate Palmer’s content in an era of mumble rap and trap music that undervalues lyricism? He believes the younger generation has not completely lost its connection to hip-hop’s roots. His audience respects his music selection, often encouraging him to play rap legends that are shared favorites.
“There’s a difference between rap and hip-hop,” Palmer asserts. “Hip-hop is party music. Hop-hop is mumble rap because it’s senseless. It’s just good times; it’s music. People are just dancing and vibing. They don’t care what they’re saying; it’s catchy.”
In contrast, “Rap has more content to it…there’s space for both. Sometimes people do like to hear a message, and sometimes people just don’t want to think about nothing. It [new music] redefines hip-hop because hip-hop is youth. Hip-hop is what’s fresh and hip.”
Palmer hopes Real Rap will stand the test of time. “…I’m doing it for the culture,” he says. “The culture wasn’t there before I got there…And now there’s a template. They [students] know it’s possible. So I hope somebody’s paying attention.”
Palmer’s second show, The iLL Hour, offers more creative freedom. There is no format; instead, the show is guided by banter, open conversation and music.
“I can’t really explain it. It’s just something that I do…It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to get on the radio. I’ve always been the type of person to talk, get anybody to laugh. I always say relatable things too,” he states.
He also shares that his willingness to express his thoughts and emotions allows him to articulate ideas other people may struggle to put into words.
“I really believe that we feel and think a lot of the same things. The human experience (although it can vary from person to person), the experience of life is the same for almost everybody in certain aspects,” says Palmer.
He continues to explain that being on a college campus can be overwhelming for many students. There are so many people, but you cannot be friends with everyone. Furthermore, you are trying to focus on yourself, and time is limited. There is a constant fear of missing out. “To hear…that you’re not alone in your thoughts is one of the greatest feelings,” says Palmer as he elaborates on the importance of his platform.
Real Rap airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., and The iLL Hour airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Listeners can tune in through the RadioFX app, tunein.com/radio/WESS-903-s28605/ or radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/wess.
If anyone is interested in being a guest, contact Quincy Palmer on Twitter or Instagram @ill_wink.
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