Critical Voices: Cadence Weapon, Afterparty Babies

By:
02/28/2008

Cadence Weapon; Afterparty Babies; Epitaph Records

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Afterparty Babies, Cadence Weapon’s second LP, is how calculated it seems. Surely, countless hours go into crafting any good hip-hop album these days, but the effort put into Afterparty Babies extends beyond time spent in the studio or obsessively rewriting lyrics. Like the best rappers, Cadence Weapon seems fully aware of his audience, goals and idiosyncrasies; unlike the best-known rappers, he’s confident rather than megalomaniacal.

“My whole career I’m going to do something different,” he said in a recent interview. “I’ve already started doing some stuff on the next one.” Along these lines, Afterparty Babies isn’t so much a follow-up as it is a stepping-stone; you can’t get much more deliberate than that.

Rollie Pemperton (a.k.a. Cadence Weapon) was born in raised in Edmonton, Alberta, where his father (Teddy Pemperton) was one of the first DJs to broadcast hip-hop over the Canadian airwaves in 1980. Pemperton briefly attended journalism school in Virginia, where he wrote reviews for Pitchfork Media and the now-defunct Stylus in his spare time, before getting signed to the Toronto-based label Upper Class thanks to a song posted on a blog. In short, Cadence Weapon has hip-hop in his blood, a critical ear and a grasp of contemporary resources.

So I have no qualms agreeing with Pemperton when he asserts that his second LP is a “hip-house” record rather than an “electro-rap” record, because he’s right. While his debut Breaking Kayfabe garnered comparisons to the UK grime of Dizzee Rascal, Afterparty Babies takes a step away from arcade soundtracks in favor of straight-up jams (“In Search of the Youth Crew,” “Unsuccessful Club Nights.”). I also don’t have to talk much about Cadence Weapon’s unique sense of flow (“Call me Alex Simon/with the words that I’m rhyming/with the peculiar timing”), uncommon song themes (“I wear pink, but ironically,/I wave my big fist at my friend androgyny”) or dry humor (“Beats hotter than a foundry/less beef than a pantry”), Pemperton’s got it all covered. He knows his songs will make you think twice (“Am I talking about something else?/Well, I usually am—you just don’t know me that well/We’re still on a strictly customer to employee basis. ”) He’s even declared in an interview with UGSMAG that the impetus for Afterparty Babies was “to make music children are conceived by.”

I don’t really need to tell you why Afterparty Babies is such a great record, because Pemperton can tell you himself, and (unlike Kanye) he’s right.

Voice’s Choices: ““Limited Edition OJ Slammer,” “Do I Miss My Friends,” “Getting Dumb”

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