Rollie Pemberton - aka Cadence Weapon - is the former poet laureate of Edmonton Alberta Canada and current underground king of Montreal rap...among other things. Recently Pemberton hung out at Baeble HQ to tell us a little bit about his new, Polaris Music Prize nominated album Hope in Dirt City. It's a compelling collection that is the product of unique creative processes, which Rollie touches on here. Also on tap are the influences that seep into his music, anecdotes about several of Dirty City's songs, and Rollie's wide eyed reflections on hip hop in general.
Cadence Weapon continues to firmly establish his legacy as a sonic pioneer while constantly pushing the rap and electronic music envelope. Following his critically acclaimed, Polaris Music Prize nominated albums Breaking Kayfabe and Afterparty Babies and a two year term as Edmonton's Poet Laureate, he returns with a brand new album, Hope In Dirt City out on Upper Class Recordings on May 29th.
Roland Pemberton was born with hip hop in his DNA. His father, Teddy Pemberton, a Brooklyn native and the muse for Cadence Weapon's acclaimed sophomore album, Afterparty Babies, was a pioneering college radio DJ and in 2010 was inducted into the Hall Of Fame during Canada's National DJ Awards, the Stylus Awards. He's credited for introducing hip-hop to Rollie's hometown of Edmonton, Alberta through his show, The Black Experience In Sound on CJSR-FM.
Following in his father's groundbreaking footsteps, Rollie discovered he wanted to rap at the tender age of 13. Pemberton first gained massive grassroots support for his mixtape "Cadence Weapon Is The Black Hand". He soon followed up with his explosive debut Breaking Kayfabe and the album yielded instant praise and notoriety culminating in nominations from the Polaris Music Prize, the Canadian Indie Awards and "Best Rap Album of 2006" at the Plug Independent Music Awards, and won the CBC Radio 3's Bucky Award.
Pemberton has performed with Public Enemy, De La Soul, Mos Def, Questlove, Kool Keith and Lupe Fiasco and toured extensively with acts as diverse as Jurassic 5, Final Fantasy, Islands and Buck 65. He's played internationally renowned festivals such as Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Roskilde, Pitchfork Music Festival, Incubate and Germany's Splash! Festival. He's remixed Grimes, Roots Manuva, Chad VanGaalen, Kid Sister, Busdriver, Disco D and Stars and made acclaimed bootleg mixes of tracks by Ciara ("Oh") and Rick Ross/Simian Mobile Disco ("Hustlin' Hustler"). He inked deals with labels Epitaph and Big Dada. Most impressively, this was before he reached age of majority.
Deemed by Dazed and Confused as "hip hop's saviour", Cadence Weapon is changing the game. Hope In Dirt City is a clearly defined and emotionally mature statement of intent that represents the culmination of these experiences. Pemberton applies an interesting approach to production using samples as a foundation for writing the album, then working with live instrumentalists (Jered Stuffco (DVAS) on keyboards, Ian Koiter (Shad) on bass and string arrangements, Eric Lightfoot on drums and percussion, Paul Prince (The Cansecos) on guitar and Brett Miles (Magilla Funk Conduit) on saxophone) to reconfigure his original compositions. Pemberton then turned the band-recorded tracks into samples for the album to "achieve a listenable, honest approach to integrating a live band into his setup". "I wanted to have a live feel, but I didn't want to sound like the Arsenio Hall band," Pemberton told Paste. "I wanted to make it ambiguous between where the sample ends and the live band begins." Referencing his album's first single "Conditioning" Pemberton goes on to say, "Originally it was a drum machine demo, I wanted it to be a Bo Diddley song. I basically have a band play it as a rock song, then when I took it home, I switched it into half time and turned it into a hybrid-blues track."
Composed of a unique hybrid of psychedelic soul, old school rap, IDM and mutant disco, Hope In Dirt City is a groundbreaking achievement in hip-hop. Cadence Weapon has returned to bring rap back to its essence.