Most people can't wear sneakers with a vest, but most people can't rap either.
courtesy Upper Class Recordings

This Weapon is based on a true story

Edmonton-based rapper unveils sophomore album

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Edmonton's Cadence Weapon (a.k.a. Roland Pemberton) loves to play Rock Band with his mom. With the upcoming release of his latest album, Afterparty Babies, Tue., Mar 4, one wonders how he has the time.

The album's title, based on something Cadence Weapon's dad--breakthrough CJSR DJ Teddy Pemberton--once said about the details of his conception. Though the younger Pemberton later found out that his creation was actually planned, he still dedicates the CD to "all the accidents out there" in the opening track, "Do I Miss My Friends?"

Always working to defy definition in the style of reinvention icons Bob Dylan and David Bowie, the rapper puts forth a different feel with this effort, channeling a more dance-oriented sound, which he expects could garner him some raised eyebrows from longtime fans and critics.

"I've been waiting to put this album out forever and I can see a lot of people seeing it as me trend-hopping and I'm trying to be like a banger, electro-pop guy," he says. "It's a logical step from the last album and it's totally connected to the things I'm listening to and the things I'm interested in. The vibe of the album is about the old tradition of dancing and social interaction. What better way to do that than with a dance record?"

A former music journalist himself, Pemberton has learned the ins and outs of release cycles and how reviews can affect artists, though he says that there is a definite disconnect between creating music and reviewing it.

"When I was writing a review, it was a completely tactile thing," he says. "There's a measured process and a certain way of doing it. When I'm making music, it's more organic and it's as it comes to me. I think it's totally different."

Pemberton has managed to gain a hold on fickle indie kids everywhere with a certain do-it-yourself feel to his efforts, which is quite a feat for any artist--especially one who records hip-hop music. His success even garnered him a recording contract with Epitaph/Anti Records, home to artists that he himself looked up to as a child, like punk gods Bad Religion and Tom Waits. He cites the label as a place that's provided him with the creative freedom to do what he wants with his music.

As Pemberton works towards introducing his music to the masses, he has always tried to enrich his live shows for his audience, giving more than what one gets from popping in a CD.

"[Performing live offers] more, interacting with people on a personal level," he says. "When they go to a rap show, they probably don't expect to have someone jump down into the crowd and like, [be jumping] on them and grabbing them, or someone going off the stage and sitting on the bar and drinking a shot. It's a fun way of doing things. It's important because, why would someone want to pay to see someone dictate albums?"

It's Pemberton's goals of reinvention and producing quality music that seem to be the key to his success. As the music industry fights through the digital age, he believes the way music is distributed will change, as well as musicians' motivation to keep creating it.

"Radiohead had the best plan," he says. "They really shifted the paradigm for everyone in the business and everyone has to catch up now. As soon as the money drains out of [the industry], anyone who's in it for the money is just going to start making movies, or something. The age of blingin' out and selling a million records is not going on anymore."

Afterparty Babies is in stores Tue., Mar. 4.