Monday, April 07, 2008

Cadence Weapon - Afterparty Babies

Rollie Pemberton, born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is only 22 years old and he goes by the stage name of Cadence Weapon. With many great young musicians, he creates music that sounds well beyond his formidable years. Having grown up in Canada one might think there would be few opportunities to listen to hip-hop, or be influenced by others. In fact, his father Teddy Pemberton is credited with bringing/introducing Edmonton to hip-hop and rap. The elder Pemberton grew up in Brooklyn, NY and created a radio show devoted to the genre in 1980. While his love for hip-hop grew through his teenage years, Rollie's mom wanted him to get an education and he enrolled at college in Virginia to pursue journalism. By the time he was 19 he was established as a stingy music critic most notably for Stylus Mag (R.I.P.) and Pitchfork Media (fired after editor-in-chief called his reviews too vague). Being out of school and out of writing gigs he immersed himself in lyrics and his own beats to finally create his own music. He posted writings and tracks to his blog and gained notice from labels such as Def Jam, that eventually had him produce tracks for Lady Sovereign. After his critically acclaimed debut Breaking Keyfabe (2005) he is back with the follow-up.

Afterparty Babies (2008) ventures into new territory for Cadence Weapon. Whereas his debut album was heavily influenced by UK grime and garage rap, this newest effort has much more techno and house music conventions. The former had deep heavy beats and Babies sees more electronic and synths for the basis of beats and hooks. But what it comes down to is Cadence Weapon's lyrics. He's the embodiment of what hipster hip-hop fans love. He's hip without trying too hard to be hip. He's smart but doesn't come off as pretentious. He's knows a good beat has massive and widespread appeal. And he's witty enough to have biting pop culture references that you may miss on the first spin. You can listen to this album over and over and find new wrinkles and meanings with each listen, and that is where Cadence Weapon really grabs hold of the neurotic indie audience; more bang for your buck (although it's probably been illegally downloaded, so...yeah).

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