Cadence Weapon and J-Live
Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Mon 19 May; The Ivy, Glasgow, Tue 20 May
In the space of two albums, Rollie Pemberton (aka Cadence Weapon) has cut a compellingly maverick path across the hip hop landscape. His first record, Breaking Kayfabe, set critical tongues wagging when it appeared on the independent Canadian label Upper Class Recordings in 2005 before being picked up by Big Dada in the UK. There it was re-released as a precursor to Pemberton’s sophomore LP, the dazzlingly inventive Afterparty Babies, which arrived in March this year.
Cadence Weapon grew up immersed in music in Edmonton, Canada. His father is credited as one of Canada’s first hip hop radio DJs and by the age of 18, Pemberton Junior had become a regular contributor to Pitchfork, writing hip hop reviews for the influential American music website. Clear comparisons can be made between Pemberton’s observant, articulate writing and his virtuoso rhyming; both are imbued with his passion for popular culture and diverse musical taste. Alongside obvious hip hop reference points (De La Soul, Jurassic 5), he gleefully plunders the entire club music canon, from synthetic, fizzing 8-bit textures to booming, breakneck booty bass.
Pemberton’s lyrics, delivered in a relaxed Canadian accent sound earnest and sincere, without the sandal-wearing sanctimony that the brown bread ‘n’ backpack intelligent hip hop fraternity can sometimes be accused of. Cadence Weapon favours determinedly ordinary subject matter; his short, insightful meditations on friends and parties, sex and relationships brim with self-confidence and joie de vivre as well as charming, self-depreciating asides. Cadence Weapon’s music is humble and humane, and deserves to be cherished.