From punching beats on a turntable to creating mixes played on air during Q93’s Social Shakedown, New Orleans bounce artist Frederick “Flipset Fred” Palmer made everyone move to his music. On the night of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Palmer died in his sleep. He was 30 years old. His cause of death remains under investigation by the coroner’s office.
Palmer’s drive, and determination – his push – to perfect his craft, made him stand out, even within a field of talented bounce producers, said KRS Josh, a DJ and artist. Palmer was 14 when they became friends.
“I just want everybody to remember him not only for his music but how he pushed his [songs] out. Like nobody can really push on how Fred did,” said Josh.
A triple threat on the music scene, Flipset Fred had the talent of a host, the groove of a DJ and the creative mind of a producer. Beyond spinning the turntables, Palmer also played drums and the piano. He infused those elements into melodies for his bounce beats.
Palmer was only a teenager when his music career took off. He performed at local clubs like the Cricket Club, DaChatroom and the Shake Box, said Artis Collier, his best friend. “Barely could get in [at his age], but his songs were so hot, he was performing at all [the] adult clubs,” said Collier.
In 2008, in post-Katrina New Orleans, when he was only 16, Palmer became an overnight sensation, with the hit “Waistline Hustle,” Collier remembered.
“A lot of girls got attached to it, and started liking Fred,” said KRS Josh, who watched as Palmer became a popular figure at school talent shows and events.
Friend Darren West, a food vendor known as Bittles With the Vittles, first met Palmer and experienced his music coming from a club as he grilled outside. Once recorded, his songs spread quickly, he said. “Next thing you know I’m hearing his music on the radio and people playing his music in the car.”
His tag line “Me, I’m Flipset Fred and I’m ‘bout tah put the girls to bed,” was heard on every song and mix he produced.
Drawn by his good looks, bright smile and catchy lyrics – “You got to shake now, you got to give me more” and “Hustle on your tippy toes” – young women flocked to his stages to feel the beat, swaying their hips and shaking it.
Palmer was from the “bricks” – the Third Ward Melpomene projects formally known as the Guste Homes. He was displaced after Hurricane Katrina, then created music that was a touchstone to home. It “connected everybody” after the storm, his brother Nigel Palmer said.
Before his music career took off, Palmer worked various jobs, but none fulfilled him. Friends say that his light-hearted, entrepreneurial spirit wasn’t content at rigid non-creative workplaces.
A few years after Katrina, Palmer started DJing as a side gig. He knew how to grab an audience’s attention and had a way “that moved the crowd. From there, a move to producing music in the studio seemed natural, since “he always did make beats,” said Glenda “Goldie” Robert, manager and publicist for Flipset Fred. In 2010, he formed Flipset Music Group to further his studio work.
Palmer had a distinct synergy with other performers during the local rap cyphers – freestyle collaborations between artists – that he and Robert hosted.
“He had a way with artists, like he can catch them and catch that beat,” Robert said. “Artists might start out kind of off-beat, he would catch them and put them on the beat, and that would be the best performance ever.”
Palmer’s influence also spread within his own family. His younger brother Gary is rapper Lagaryy.
As a producer and DJ, Palmer worked with notable bounce artists including Big Freedia, Fly Boi Keno, Sissy Nobby, 12th Ward Peter, Hasizzle and Magnolia Shorty.
A few years ago, Palmer’s song “Wobble in the Dirt,” produced by Robert, was featured in the horror film “Black as Night.” Palmer also produced the hit song “Basketball” for one of the city’s youngest bounce artist, 17-year-old Baby Erin.
Despite his age, Palmer became a go-to producer early in his career. “If you go to the studio and you sing 12 words, Fred is gonna pull some vocals or whatever you sing and make you a song,” KRS Josh said.
After each session, Palmer took his time to create each final piece.
“It was something about Fred,” said DJ Tapout, a friend of Palmer for 15 years.“You pay Fred your money today, you might not get your song until two months later because Fred wanted to be the best in everything he did. ”
Beyond the fame, Palmer was a family man who loved spending time with his three young children — Fendi, 9, Faith, 6, and Faiz, 3. He was also the designated organizer for events for his large extended family. “Like over the past few years, he just has been trying to get everybody to come closer together,” his brother Nigel said. “Like to take family trips and have more family events, because he was getting older.”
Last Saturday morning, family, friends and fans honored Palmer’s life and successes during a celebration of life service at Second New Guide Baptist Church .
“I was right there by him all the time,” Collier said. “What I would want everyone to cherish is [his] memories. He wouldn’t want us to cry here,” he said, encouraging everyone to lift their spirits.
His only sister, Troylesha Palmer, shared a poignant memory of him, when the family was displaced in Texas and she left with her aunt to move back to New Orleans.
“Fred told me, ‘Don’t leave him.’ Then he ran behind the U-Haul truck while we were leaving,” she said. “I watched him through the rearview mirror. And I cried and cried and cried.”
Within months, the two reunited in New Orleans.
“Now I feel like I’m running after you,” she said, sobbing as she spoke to her absent brother, at the podium during his service. She already knew the strong love they shared but saw love move beyond her, to encompass a larger world of fans and friends, she said.
“Fred made us family with the whole world because everybody is his cousins and his sisters, please keep that going,” she said. “We need that to keep feeling Fred close to us.”
more from verite
Help inform our coverage as we build a newsroom for and by the people of New Orleans:
Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us by answering each question.