Canadian Musician - May/June 2021 - Page 46

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BY MICHAEL RAINE

CADENCE

WEAPON

HAS GOT SOMETHING TO SAY

PHOTO : COLIN MEDLEY
Sometimes don ’ t wanna show face / But I know I must face the facts / My prime minister wears blackface / But he don ’ t really wanna face blacks – from “ Play No Games ”
Raising the rent then they blame the victims / The city tears down encampments / My neighbours bought a place in Hamilton / Tents right next to the mansions / They acting like it isn ’ t happening / City planners never plan for us / Mayor Tory doesn ’ t ride the bus / Or ride a bike or ride for us / So how can he understand what we want ?/ Ford Nation ’ s for the corporations / But he don ’ t care about the public / Whenever we ask for what we need / They say there ’ s no room in the budget – from “ Skyline ”
46 CANADIAN MUSICIAN

Parallel World hits hard . That ’ s the best and most succinct way I can think to describe it . Three tracks into the first listen of Cadence Weapon ’ s fifth album – after the triple punch of “ Africville ’ s Revenge ,” “ On Me ,” and “ Play No Games ” – I ’ d felt like I ’ d been hit over the head with all the conversations , events , and politics of the past year . And they may not sound like a good thing , per se , but the songs bang , and the dexterity of the lyrics and his ( ahem ) cadence make the album undeniable . You want to pound your fist and bounce your head , and then rewind to make sure you absorb the lyrics . And so , just a few songs in , I was thinking to myself , man , this album hits hard .

“ I ’ m dissing every level of government on the album . It ’ s like , people don ’ t really do that anymore , because people are like , ‘ Hey , conservatives buy records , too ,’ or whatever , right ? To me , I say , ‘ Fuck that , take a stand ,’ or why are we making art , you know ? That ’ s just the way I personally see art ,” asserts
Roland “ Rollie ” Pemberton , a . k . a . Cadence Weapon , twisting the famous phrase that Michael Jordan supposedly used to defend his apolitical image in ‘ 90s .
For the last decade and a half , ever since his debut LP Breaking Kayfabe , which was shortlisted for the inaugural Polaris Music Prize in 2006 , Cadence Weapon has been one of one of Canada ’ s most gifted MCs . He seemingly has the innate ability to find that perfect combination of flow and topic matter , though there is a rawness and directness to Parallel World that feels more consistent throughout the body of work than on any of his previous albums . And while a lot of the topic matter may be ripped straight from the turbulent headlines of the past year , from race relations to COVID shutdowns , it doesn ’ t feel trite .
“ I guess , for me , I don ’ t want to make this record that ’ s like , I ’ m Stuck in My House ( The Album ), or whatever , you know ? There ’ s nothing vibey about that . But I felt like I ’ ve been really interested in the idea of making useful music — music that people can live by , and music that people can relate to in dif-