CADENCE WEAPON at Supermarket (268 Augusta), Friday (March 10). $10. www.ramosent.com. Rating: NNNNN
It's been three months since 19-year-old Cadence Weapon's, aka Rollie Pemberton's, groundbreaking debut, Breaking Kayfabe (Upperclass), hit the streets. The aftershocks of hype have yet to let up.
Reviews across the country and online (he was actually signed based on his track Oliver Square being posted on fluxblog.org) have exalted the artist/producer, his wordy songs and his remixes of Gwen Stefani, Lady Sov and DFA1979 for being an icy blast of fresh air, and rightly so. Despite their occasional inaudibility above the beat, his electro symphonies sound exceptionally forward-thinking for Canadian, especially Albertan, rap production.
So far the write-ups of his self-styled "hiphop IDM - intelligent club-rap" have almost all been positive, and the negative ones seem conflicted in a way that makes Pemberton chuckle.
"One guy said, 'I'm hearing a lot about this album. I'm hearing it's really good. I personally don't seem to like it very much. I mean, I don't really get it. So maybe the rest of the world is right and I'm wrong,'" Pemberton recalls over the phone from his Edmonton crib.
"He seemed confused about the whole review process overall."
As is noted too often, he was himself once a hiphop scribe, reviewing Young Gunz and Atmosphere albums for such influential music websites as Stylus and Pitchforkmedia.com. That may explain why he can dismiss his (few) critical detractors with such ease.
And while you can sense that he's pleased his career's off to a big, bangin' beginning, to his discomfort, Cadence Weapon is starting to find himself publicly characterized as The Writer Who Raps.
"So far, every review I've read has been 'Pitchfork, Pitchfork, Pitchfork,'" he gripes. "But I haven't written for Pitchfork in three years, so it's totally irrelevant. I don't think I should be looked at differently just because of where I used to work."
As the 10-album career arc - which Pemberton tells me he's completely planned out and saved into a Word document - progresses, that initial writer-turned-rapper tag should fade away real nice. He's already seven of 15 tracks deep into his more "pop-friendly" sophomore album, Urban Sprawl In North Texas, a Bassment Jaxx-influenced concept record about why condominiums are a problem. As if that weren't enough, USNT will be followed shortly afterward by an instrumental album that he says shouldn't take too long to finish.
If he's lucky, the journalist/rapper identity will soon be eclipsed by his latest public image, which he's only now starting to learn about.
"I was at a club and these girls were telling me I'm really pretentious. I was like, 'Oh - why's that?' They're like, 'Well, I heard you were at this house party and you weren't talking to anyone.' I was like, 'It's probably because I didn't know anyone.' And they were like, 'Why didn't you talk?' I'm like, 'Why didn't they talk?' 'Because you're Cadence Weapon. They're scared.'
"So I guess I'm also developing a rep for being a pretentious asshole."