Cadence Weapon aka Rollie Pemberton is a Canadian artist who follows up his debut "Breaking Kayfabe" with "Afterparty Babies" released on Big Dada in the UK. Check out what he had to say about Grime, Street Fighter, Games Consoles, the definition of Skippy and his latest release when he spoke to Davide for this in depth interview.
Davide: Give me the lowdown, what’s Cadence Weapon about? Your music? Your influences?
Cadence Weapon: Cadence Weapon is a concept about music as a weapon. Basically it is my way of saying that your words can be as important as a tank. It’s kind of like when the US, during Desert Storm realised they couldn’t just roll in. So in the end they brought a tank in and blasted Van Halen at them. It’s my metaphor for my music.
Davide: If you could name your genre what would you call what you do? (please don’t say hip house)
Cadence Weapon: Lol… I would call it folk’s rap, it’s rap about folk’s. The whole Hip House thing is kind of a joke and every other application of Hip House that has ever happened is pretty shitty. It’s not like I decided to do this because I thought ‘Ah man, Pump Up The Jam is like a classic song’, it’s not even really about the musical style I happened to do for this album, that came about more as an extension of what this album is about. After Party Babies is about real people and the people that hang out at parties and clubs.
Davide: Hence the title ‘After Party Babies’ – babies that are made at the after party?
Cadence Weapon: Yeah, yeah, absolutely… lol.
Davide: Looking back at your first album ‘Breaking Kayfabe’ how would you say this album differs from or is similar to it? I mean in regards to production, themes, content etc.
Cadence Weapon: This album is far more cohesive than my first, it’s all made with a definitive purpose, the songs were made closer together, sonically it is very dance floor, a lot of the songs can be mixed into house. It is also way more upbeat, faster and tighter in regards to flow and rhymes, it’s far more precise and cohesive. Personally I prefer this album although I’ll probably say that every time.
Davide: There’s a clear Dubstep / Grime influence on Sharks, was that a conscious decision? Were you influenced by UK Grime and dubstep on that track?
Cadence Weapon: Before I made ‘Sharks’ I was really into Grime but it was more about making a track around the concept of a call and response. The chorus is meant to be an unintelligible monster voice that is actually saying ‘go out and buy my shit’. That album was released in Canada in 2005 and so that song predates Dubstep, certainly before it left the UK. I’d say the bass line is grime influenced though and there’s a video game influence there too.
Davide: Ok then, what is your Street Fighter character? (The artwork for Sharks is a Street Fighter Parody)
Cadence Weapon: Great question… I like Ken, he’s an American, he’s a tough guy like Ryu but blonde. In later games he had the flaming upper cut which is a killer move. But then even though I’m a Ken fan, I’m also feeling Blanka, he’s not the most open ended character but he’s got the electrification and the roll which are heavy.
Davide: He’s good for the unbeatable combo’s and other similar ‘sad’ tactics.
Cadence Weapon: Ahh I know, I can’t play like that, I don’t cheat!’
Davide: Who do you rate on the UK Grime scene then?
Cadence Weapon: I’m a BIG Grime fan and I really like Trim, he’s so cool, what a cool style he has, totally off beat, it’s so freestyle and very original, even just as a rapper, real fly, he’s really funny too. He’s got a line:
‘people are saying that flowdan writes Wiley’s lyrics but that’s not true cos I do’
I also like Dirty Goodz, he’s a technical artist, incredible rapper, tight as hell.
Davide: He’s got great skip as well.
Cadence Weapon: What does that mean? I keep hearing that, ‘skippy’, I keep hearing that word on Skepta’s tracks.
(reporter plays skippy ring tone freestyle)
Cadence Weapon: Ahh chopping, we would call that chopping, it’s the old school term in West coast rap, a lot of the LOTU, Freestyle Fellowship etc. rapping super fast, skipping the beats, like Twista for example, he’s the skippiest. I could do that stuff but it’s hard to do that and actually say something.
Skepta kills, Greatest Hits is awesome, I really like it, is that blowing up over here?
Davide: Not at a mainstream level, other than a select few artists like Lethal and Dizee, Urban doesn’t really cross over.
Cadence Weapon: I didn’t think Lethal was that popular…
Davide: He’s got his busines hat on.
How did it start for you? In the UK kids generally go through youth clubs, pirate radio and then mixtapes – plus all the New Media kids on t’s, myspace and more. They are on a serious grind, are the youths in Canada on similar moves?
Cadence Weapon: Well for me, originally I was on the battle scene, battling for money, getting some notoriety on the streets. Then I put out a mixtape, sold it in bars, parks, clubs, to people on the street. That work led to interest and people wanting to sign me plus it set me up for a load of Net coverage. I got some good reviews, plus getting my music up on blogs really helped. This was back in the time when blogs first became really popular and they were being read by thousands of people, I went up on Fluxblog and that day my phone didn’t stop ringing and I got like 100 emails, people wanting to sign me, wanting remixes, it was actually that article that led to me doing my Lady Sovereign remix.
Davide: You produce your own tracks and have remixed for the likes of Lady Sov, Kid Sister and more? What’s your set up?
Cadence Weapon: I’m a real computer guy and though my studio is down at the moment, I use pretty regular stuff; Reason, Fruity Loops, Cubase, my only real piece of hardware is a drum machine called Dr Rhythm. Ultimately I like to get the basics sequenced and then I get the synths, vocals and FX in there at my studio and then the last stage is to take it into a Pro studio for mastering.
Davide: What do you know of UK rap?
Cadence Weapon: You know, I don’t know anything about it, obviously there’s Roots Manuva my label mate, he’s king I guess. The only UK rap I have heard is artists that have rapped with a US rapper. I am a big fan of J. Zone, I love his beats, I think he did a track with Jehst? I think that song was called Stairwell To Stage, that tune is hot, both Jehst and J. Zone rap on it. He also did a track with Diversion Tactics, it was like J. Zone’s whole crew and Diversion Tactics rapping about the two different scene’s. But to be honest I don’t know much about UK Rap.
Why don’t the Grime and rap scene’s collaborate, is there resentment?
Davide: Well when Grime first emerged the HH guys didn’t want to know, help or collaborate and the Grime MC’s had to build their own scene, their own blogs, their own club nights. Now that Grime has surpassed the UK HH scene, certainly in terms of current media coverage, they don’t really need UK Hip Hop, though there have been some colabs.
Cadence Weapon: It’s kinda reminiscent of the US / Canadian underground scene’s vs. commercial Hip Hop, kind of the same dichotomy, the underground didn’t want to know about the nerdy shit, they thought it was boring and stupid and they didn’t understand it. Now there has been like a paradigm shift and underground stuff like that is more popular, the more commercial people are trying to be conscious in their lyricism but people can see right through it.
Davide: I hear your the video game king – whats your flava? Xbox or PS3?
Cadence Weapon: I like video games but I don’t really get the time anymore, growing up I was hugely into video games, in fact before I wrote for Pitchfork I reviewed video games. Xbox vs PS3? Definitely NOT PS3. The thing about games nowadays is that they don’t come out as often, I can’t name a single game out on the PS3, it seems to take forever to get them out now, I don’t even know a single person who has a PS3. Video games are such big business that nobody wants to take chances on stuff, it’s almost like the movie game, all about the sequel. That’s why I think the Wii is winnning the gaming war stateside, it’s cheaper, everyone wants one, the games are simple, kid’s are playing it, adults, everyone’s on it.
Davide: You know about Pro 5 right? When Pro come’s out the streets are empty.
Cadence Weapon: We do that with the American football game Madden, I do parties back home and I did a recent party and my boy was like I need a free entry as I just gambled away $100 dollars on Madden! That’s crazy.
Davide: So you promote parties? Any juicy stories?
Cadence Weapon: Producing a show is always like psycho, anything can go wrong. At my most recent one, everything was going well, nice vibes, people loving it, then as soon as I get on the decks some raver kicks out the power cable! The power went out instantly, it was like ‘What the fuck just happened? Was that me?’ Someone then plugged it back in, I got on the decks again and out when the power again. In the end we sorted the situation by putting a potted plant in front of the power point – simple solutions.
Davide: What’s the Canadian Hip Hop scene like? Who’s big on road out there? Give us three Canadian artists you think we should check.
Cadence Weapon: It’s not much better commercially than over here, I tell you that. I like a lot of the underground rap in Canada. Peanuts and Corn are a really cool rap crew out of Winnipeg, there are lots of interesting aspects to Canadian rap but I reckon it probably has a lot of the same problems you guys have here. It’s conscious and it’s about stuff, but there is no focus on song writing or building their songs around interesting topics, it’s almost derivative, like some late 90’s DMX album or something. Also check out Mind Bender from Toronto and Touch and Nato, I feature on their album and Nato produced one of the beats on this After Part Babies.
Davide: Part of the problem is that UK Rap doesn’t always represent being British, our culture and our lifestyle as opposed to the Grime acts who have formed a scene that is undoubtedly Brit to the core. Does Canadian Rap have similar issues?
Cadence Weapon: Yeah that’s another thing with the Canadian scene, people are afraid to admit that they are Canadian, they will try and rap like they are from New York, people from Toronto pretend they are from NY, people from Vancouver try and rap like West Coast, like Snoop Dogg. It’s like ‘your from fucking Canada, your from Toronto man’. People can see right through that, they see the video and they know you haven’t got any money, it’s all so transparent, a little weird, I don’t know why people would want to do it.
Davide: I found a quote of yours “I have a top secret rap project about clothing and girls” – What is it?
Cadence Weapon: That is indeed my quote and it’s an album with subtitle Out Of California, as yet we haven’t started it, can’t give you any more details I’m afraid.
Davide: Finally, What’s in your iPod?
1. Skepta – Greatest Hits
2. Tom Waits
3. Steeley Dan
4. And Bob Dylan of course, he is my favourite rapper
By: Davide Ferreira