The Palmer Squares
Read about my conversation with these guys here and on Pop ‘stache.
On Chicago’s northwest side, two lyrical hypnotics named Acumental (AC) and Terminal Knowledge (Term-K) reside. Together known as The Palmer Squares, they’re catering a crisp and refreshingly aware taste to the abundant crew of hip hop artists emerging as of late. Like their names, they’re keen and precise in their intentions to exhibit a decadent flow; voluptuous, clever and verbose. The Palmer Squares are here to provide us with entirely new and skillful rhymes, consciously treading new ground as far as the hip hop world can go. AC and Term-K acknowledge established boundaries only through their natural tendencies to cross them.
On Tuesday May 8th, their first studio mastered EP Spooky Language was released to a growing fanbase of open & raised arms. “It’s the best sounding thing I think we’ve had, you know thanks to the ARU hookup,” AC explained, citing the difference between these 7 mastered tracks and the mixtapes they’ve been recording for the past 4 years. The duo has dozens of high-traffic YouTube videos on their channel, featuring a capella freestyle sessions, roof-top rapping, and other Chi-based showcases for their unstoppable lyrical surges. Their cleverly chosen samples- many of which are soundbytes from films of their youth, others forgotten oldies samples- help catch a listener and tie all musical elements together. Check out Spooky Language’s “To the Letter” as well as the title track. Every song on this EP is solid and summertime suitable, which certainly says something optimistic about their future.
The Palmer Squares put off any and all assumptions that their music is directly influenced by other rappers. They’re in the business from the start to create something new. Growing up with influences such as MF Doom and Wu-Tang Clan might have drawn their interest, but now it seems that the hip hop they listen to simply fuels their inspiration to produce something better. “If [a track is] super wack or if it’s really dope, I inevitably get the feeling halfway through it that I want to either write a song equally as dope or way better than this.” They work on building their own styles. “The more we get involved with our own stuff, the less we listen to others.” Although they are a duo, both told me that their creative processes are very much separate. They each write their own stuff, then come together to arrange it within a beat- in the case of Spooky Language, all beats were produced by Nate Kiz.
As blunts were lit and topics trailed, conversation surfed towards their thoughts on the comments that go down on YouTube videos- mostly that they have nothing to do with the actual song featured. In response to this, Term-K explains “It’s weird that it’s being hosted on our video. I mean ultimately, it’s flattering. I’m glad somewhat that our shit sparks debate about hip hop, rather than just dead fire… after a while it gets annoying though.”
So how did all this begin? They’ve known each other since their elementary days in Chicago. AC and Term-K explain their high school experimentations: “It slowly evolved from playful parody-type stuff… really nothing we expected to share with anyone but each other. It was half the goof and then half that we were just big time haters. When everyone is talking about their favorite rappers, and in our opinion they’re just the worst rappers [Lil’ Wayne], anytime we tried to say anything we got the ‘Well I don’t hear you rappin’, you’re not saying shit’ response.” Apparently making it was the only way to keep talking shit, so they figured they’d start making it themselves. They were inspired by these subconscious challenges, and if their rising success is any indicator, this was a good challenge to accept.