Cadence Weapon wants the win

Cadence Weapon’s ‘Rollercoaster’ demands respect

Cadence Weapon -Rollercoaster

Cadence Weapon:


Genre: Hip Hop, Electronic

If you like: Little Simz, Drop 7, Jacques Green
Best track: Shadowbanned (ft. myst Milano)
Release date: Fri., April 19
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Next: Plays TD Music Hall, Sat., April 20
Why you should listen: It’s an album made to be listened to in full. The production is inviting and hypnotic, transporting you straight into the future. Loaded with smooth verses and optimistic ideas, there are not many rap albums that sound like this.

Even with a coveted Polaris Prize win and years in the music business, veteran Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon still has much to prove — and to win — and he’s counting on his upcoming album Rollercoaster to get him there.

His sound is a mix of industrial and electronic accompanied by tactical raps. He calls this new album a “cyber dystopia,” bringing us into a world that has signs of the present but feels like the future.

Rollercoaster will be his sixth studio album, an important milestone in his career trajectory. Cadence Weapon is recognized as Canadian hip hop royalty. He has never been nominated for a JUNO, and on this album, he adamantly demands his respect.

“I’ve been thinking about solidifying my legacy, and that includes winning Polaris. But then it also includes things like the JUNOs. I think that was a part of the thought process. Parallel World wasn’t nominated for a JUNO, and I was kind of like, what’s a guy to do?”

The name Rollercoaster has two meanings. Cadence Weapon’s real name is Rollie Pemberton, and Rollercoaster was one of his nicknames growing up. The second part of this double entendre is how we view the internet and technology. Today’s digital attention economy can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster.

“I feel like a rollercoaster is something you intentionally go on to scare you. I feel like that’s what we’re doing every day. That’s how it feels to go on Twitter sometimes — it’s just this really extreme experience.”

The new album, whose release he celebrates at a TD Music Gall gig on Sat. Apr. 20, resembles an immersive history lesson. It critically examines internet culture and technology, and like any self-respecting MC, it takes shots at the industry plants and clout chasers. His career began during the infancy of the internet, and since then, he has seen the life cycle of an artist take on many different forms. He stands on business when it comes to his feelings on those who he thinks have gotten a handout.

“I think there’s definitely a theme of me taking on people with unearned success in my opinion, whether it’s industry plants or nepo babies or just people who I feel like have things handed to them, and that’s never happened to me. “

This album is enjoyable sonically, and the production style is familiar to his fans. An industrial, futuristic rhythm drives the energy throughout. Songs like Exceptional and Lexicon feel like you’ve dropped into a video game set in 2053. This canvas fits his message on Rollercoaster, which he delivers without sounding preachy.

“What I want people to take away from this album is, really, you can be more mindful about the decisions that you make online.”

Cadence recruited some strong collaborators for this project, some “fellow Black weirdos,” as he calls them. American musician Bartees Strange starts the project, and his voice is present throughout.

“I got him to do a couple tracks on there. I wanted him to kind of be this voice beckoning you into this cyber dystopia that I’ve created. I wanted it to be very organic. I wanted it to be a living machine.

Cadence Weapon is no stranger to the internet. Amid the critiques, he has his guilty pleasures, something worth checking his phone for.

“Right now, my favourite thing to do is online auctions. For everything really, I’m just on there where people are doing estate sales. That’s really where a majority of my jewellery comes from these days,” he says laughing, “people who died. I’m actually totally addicted to doing it; it’s my favourite thing.”

Immersed in the album’s soundscape is a lasting message: some concern for the next generation of internet users and how it will affect the future.

“I kind of worry about what the next generations are going to be like online and this lack of history. This album, in a way, is like a time capsule of what the internet was like at this time, what it used to be like and it’s just showing people what was once possible.”

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