Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Canadian Hip-Hop's New Weapon of Choice

Jonathan Migneault

Mocking Music welcomes Jonathan Migneault; this indie kid definately knows his music, what we're more concerned about is his parentage. A concern you may well share after reflecting on his opening sentences.

Canada has always been the bastard child of the United States and the United Kingdom. Just about every aspect of Canadian society and culture is a 'mash-up' between its colonial father and its powerful big brother. The trend continues in the world of hip-hop. Cadence Weapon, born Rollie Pemberton, is a 19-year-old emcee from Edmonton whose goal is to change the image of Canadian hip-hop.

If Pemberton's name sounds familiar to all you indie kids it's because he was once a staff writer for everyone's "favourite" online music zine, Pitchfork. The bastards, errr… good people at Pitchfork, gave Pemberton the pink slip because his reviews were too "vague". The irony in the decision is evident to anyone who has listened to Pemberton’s music - his lyricism is anything but vague.

His debut album, "Breaking Kayfabe", mixes U.S. style rhymes with Dizzee Rascal-esque grime beats. The difference from Rascal being that you can actually understand Pemberton’s lyrics. It's obvious that Pemberton inherited his late father's affinity with words. His dad, Teddy, was one of Edmonton's first hip-hop pioneers. He started the now legendary show, The Black Experience in Sound, on the University of Alberta's radio station CJSR over 25 years ago.

This natural ease with words is evident on tracks like 'Oliver Square' and '30 Seconds'. The former makes no effort to hide Pemberton's Edmonton roots as the song, which has no shortage of clever allusions to his hometown, is a reference to the Oliver Square shopping centre where Pemberton worked as a teenager. The latter is a sharp critique of consumer culture that will make even the most awkward indie kids strut their stuff on the dance floor.

Breaking Kayfabe's greatest strength is that it never plays it safe. In a recent interview with, the ever modest Pemberton criticized the three Ks of Canadian hip-hop, Kardinal Offishall, K-os, and K'Naan, for that very fault:

"You know how Kardinal does that song with the Arrested Development loop; it's really happy-dappy, really fake stuff. You have K'Naan doing the whole 'I'm an African' bit, and you have K-os doing the 'I'm a guy with a guitar' thing. People ask me where I fit in with those three Ks, and I'm trying to do the exact opposite of what they're doing. I'm going for a really synthy sound, and I think that's why I'm going to end up doing a lot better than they're doing.”

In this blogger’s humble opinion, that confidence is well warranted.

Cadence Weapon - Oliver Square
Cadence Weapon - Sharks
Cadence Weapon - 30 Seconds

Comments on "Canadian Hip-Hop's New Weapon of Choice"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1/3/06 9:33 am) : 

Oliver Square is a grand locale.


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (1/3/06 1:58 pm) : 

I'm really enjoying Cadence Weapon - maybe I can finally add a bit more rap to my collection.

The song "Vicarious" is pretty awesome too.


Blogger Jonathan Migneault said ... (1/3/06 2:34 pm) : 

Glad to see you're enjoying Cadence Weapon.

For those interested, Cadence Weapon starts his tour this month. I highly recommend you check it out if you happen to live in southern Ontario, Montreal or plan to attend SXSW.

Here are the dates:

March 2 - Kingston, ON
w/From Fiction + Sylvie
March 3 - Toronto, ON
CMW @ Silver Dollar
March 4- Toronto, ON
CMW w/Raekwon
March 6- Hamilton, ON
w/Ladies & Gentlemen
March 9 - Guleph, ON
w/We're Marching On
March 10 - Toronto, ON
w/We're Marching On
March 11 - Brantford, ON
Dw/We're Marching On
March 14 - Montreal, QC
w/Hot Chip
March 15 - Toronto, ON
w/Hot Chip
March 16 - Austin, TX
SXSW Alberta BBQ w/SO4
March 17 - Austin, TX
March 18 - Austin, TX
SXSW Showcase

For some reason his label, Upper Class Recordings, didn't bother to include all the venues.


Blogger michele said ... (1/3/06 6:50 pm) : 

Well you bastards,congrats on your new design,i'm impressed.
As far as a canadian rapper breaking through....come on
that would be a miracle.


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (1/3/06 10:54 pm) : 

Hey, you were almost nice - that's a miracle in itself.


Blogger eyun said ... (2/3/06 3:32 am) : 

It seems almost unbelievable to hear of a rapper breaking out from Alberta. It is great though. As far as Canadian Hip-Hop breaking through, Swollen Members had a great thing going when they were collaborating with Vadim and their Codename:Scorpion project was pretty rad, then they broke. I don't think we should worry about our artists breaking or not as it is not always an honorable thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/7/07 5:42 pm) : 

I'm terriblt sorry that you guys can't understand Mr. Rascal. Over here in LDN we understand him all too well.
Fix Up, Look Sharp.

Good luck to Cadence, we're hearing good things about him over here in the UK.


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