Philadelphians are listening to a bit more old-school hip-hop these days, thanks to a new FM radio station.
Earlier this month, Radio One launched Boom 107.9, one of three throwback stations the company operates across the country.
Fans can tune in and hear artists from rap’s early days including Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, but also rappers still out there making music such as Jay-Z and Nas.
That makes Temple University professor Timothy Welbeck, oh, so happy.
“It’s about time,” said Welbeck, who teaches courses about the 40-year-old genre.
Rapper Chill Moody is also pumped about hearing his old favorites. For him, the nostalgia and igniting all the memories tied to it are exciting.
Like when he cut high school to pick up “The Truth,” Beanie Sigel’s 2000 release. Fifteen years later, the details are still as clear as day.
“[We] had one of the radios with the CD player on top, sat on the porch, had to run an extension cord through my mom’s living room so everyone on the porch could sit and listen,” said Moody.
Producer Hank McCoy listens to Boom, but he’s not sure about its staying power. He said classic hip-hop isn’t the same as classic rock for example. The artists have much shorter shelf lives.
“Bruce Springsteen can drop an album today and people are going to buy it,” said McCoy. “If somebody that’s 60 that raps drops an album today, they’re going to say, ‘Get out of here old man. What are you doing?'”
Fellow producer Wes Manchild said that attitude is tied to rap being rooted in today’s culture – whenever that today was.
“It’s not just about the music. With hip-hop, there’s so many other varying factors. It’s a cultural thing,” he said.
Jay-Z, he noted, has stayed relevant because he’s not only an artist, but an entrepreneur and, in general, someone who is ahead of his time.
But Welbeck, the Temple professor, said those wrinkles won’t hurt Boom’s success because some of the songs on the station are timeless.
“The same way that we look at James Brown and Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and other heralded singers … people are beginning to realize that hip-hop has produced art that can stand alongside the art of some of its predecessors.”
Radio One launched its first Boom station in Houston. Dallas and now Atlanta now have one too.