Culture | Cadence Weapon: Armed and dangerous

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This weekend, Montreal’s Zoobizarre was host to Cadence Weapon, an increasingly successful rapper hailing from Edmonton, Alberta. Cadence Weapon, a.k.a Roland Pemberton, has been enjoying international success after releasing his sophomore album, Afterparty Babies earlier this year.

True to his Edmonton upbringing, Cadence Weapon has always found Canadian rap more interesting, believing it to be just as diverse as its American counterpart, but with a more earnest approach. “I’m more interested in personalities and stories,” he noted, describing his focus in rap. “[But it’s] something that doesn’t seem to be very important in the States these days.” However, it was Cadence Weapon’s father, and not his nationality, that fostered his early interest in rap. His father, Teddy Pemberton, brought hip hop and rap from Brooklyn to CJSR-FM, an Edmonton college radio station, and it was his influence that inspired Cadence Weapon, who says that he was “bred to be a rapper.”

But Cadence Weapon is no ordinary rapper. Citing artists such as RZA, Daft Punk, and David Bowie as his influences, he maintains that it helps him take his music in different directions. “I don’t work based on the rules created in the rap world,” he says. “I make songs from the perspective of someone who wants to approach every song differently. I never close myself in.”

Not closing himself in, it seems, also includes drawing influence from a wide variety of genres including 60s pop and French house. Cadence Weapon further diversifies his music by not absorbing much rap. “I’m not drawing from the same palette of other rappers or producers,” and this, it would seem, allows him to create new and original sounds.

His second album, Afterparty Babies, is significantly different than his debut. When asked how, Cadence Weapon stated that the “songs are significantly faster, the rapping is tighter and it’s conceptually more balanced” also mentioning that he tried to steer every song in a different direction in order to create a constant shift.

The lyrics also deal with a variety of subjects; Cadence Weapon simply states that he is “influenced by the human experience, the things people say and do,” which would account for the wide range of themes dealt with in Afterparty Babies. Cadence Weapon also revealed his fascination for melody and its ability to create a direct physical or emotional response, giving that as a reason for his interest in 60s pop and soul. “It’s just direct melodic structure and it works perfectly”.

When asked why, among all his interests, he chose to focus on his musical career, Cadence Weapon simply said: “Music was always first for me, so why not keep it that way?” Charming and talented, Montreal will no doubt look forward to Mr. Pemberton’s next visit.


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