Call & Response: Cadence Weapon
Rollie Pemberton (aka Cadence Weapon) is an amazing hip hop producer/emcee from Edmonton. He infuses his killer beats with pretty much every other style of music he likes - mainly electro, house, and techno. His lyrics and rhyming patterns are refreshingly influenced more by the UK grime scene than they are American hip hop and at age 22, he's also a retired Pitchfork writer. That's a lot of "cool" for one guy from Edmonton. Maybe that's why he's blowing up so fast?
His Dad was a pioneering hip hop DJ in Edmonton, so I guess it's also in the genes. Cadence Weapon released his debut album Breaking Kayfabe in 2005 and just released the very amazing follow-up Afterparty Babies on various indie labels around the world. The first single "In Search of the Youth Crew" has made it's way around the blogs and it's a perfect blend of futuristic hip hop and underground house. He just got back from a European tour and he also played some of the biggest festivals in the UK this summer.
Cadence Weapon plays Lee's Palace next week. I exchanged some words with Rollie about his goals as an artist, his new album, and plans to form a futuristic power gang.
blogTO: Your sound seems to be fighting for what hip hop can be. Do you see yourself as a "weapon" against boring music?
Cadence Weapon: I don't like boring music and I don't like to make boring music. The idea behind my music isn't necessarily confrontational but I'll never do the same thing twice.
What do you think of the "Canada's response to Dizzee Rascal" tag you've been getting?
I am a fan of Dizzee Rascal's music. He's a great producer and a good songwriter. His direction lately has been a little fluffy on substance, but otherwise I like his stuff. I think it's an apt comparison to make though.
I love the video game references in your video for "Sharks". How did you pick which video games to include? What were your favourite video games?
The directors came up with the concept, but I am a fan of old-school video games. I haven't gotten into any recent games, but I guess I'm pretty big fan of the Mega Man series. The last game I really got into was probably Madden 2008.
Why is your new album called Afterparty Babies?
It's a saying my dad used to say as a joke, implying that I was a child conceived after a party. I consider our generation to be the first batch of post-party kids.
What's the story behind the cover photo with you in front of all those people?
They are my friends. I made an open call to as many people as I could get, local musicians, ex-girlfriends, old roommates, just people from Edmonton. The album is conceptually based on my friendships and experiences in Edmonton's nightlife and scene in general, so I wanted to literally put the characters I'm talking about in the forefront.
Your new record seems to be a bigger step toward dance music. Are the beats you came up with a reaction to the indie dance that's exploded in the past few years? Who are your favourite producers in that genre?
It isn't a response to any trends. I was into a lot of Kompakt Records stuff when I was making Breaking Kayfabe and I guess on this album, Daft Punk would be a primary influence. But I did not make this album with the idea of making a dancefloor smash, I wanted to make a record that was faster paced and I could stretch myself out on. It is a dance record out of coincidence. Also in a way, these are songs about locations and situations so I wanted the music to effectively be the setting for the story. If it's a song about a house party, it's gotta sound like a house party.
Do you see yourself as part of any current musical movement? Is it better to be a part of a movement or be in a class all your own?
I don't think it's a part of a movement yet, but I have some guys I want to mobilize and start a futuristic power gang with. Ghislain Poirier, Megasoid, Skratch Bastid, Subtitle. Most of them are in Montreal.
You've put some stories after some of your songs on the new album. Is that your mom after "Youth Crew"? I think it's really funny. Is that what you were going for? Just joking around between songs?
That is actually my friend Sheri Barclay talking to her mom about another person called Rollie. Confusing, I know. I just wanted it to go with the song about rumors, creating a rumor about myself right before.
I recently met someone who saw you freestyle during Holy Fuck's set at Hillside. How did that come about? Any plans to record with them?
No plans, but they are my pals. I try and rap with them whenever we're in the same city. I jumped up with them at Glastonbury too.
Who else have you joined on stage?
I usually collaborate on stage with people I tour with. I like to make a tour more of a collective experience. I've jumped on stage with Final Fantasy, Dan Bejar, Shout Out Out Out Out, Subtitle, Born Ruffians, did a Nirvana cover with the Deathset, Buck 65, Islands, probably other people as well.
Your upcoming Lee's Palace show is with Woodhands - a blogTO favourite. Have you played with them before? Any plans for an on-stage collaboration?
Haven't played with them before this tour, but we do a cover of Iggy And The Stooges's "I Need Somebody" and I might be making a special appearance during their set too.
Call & Response is a series of weekly Q&A's with artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Upper Class
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