September 6, 2007

Cadence Weapon

Cadence Weapon
Photos by Jon B
Cadence Weapon is arguably the busiest man in the Edmonton rap business right now. Mr. Weapon (a.k.a. Rollie Pemberton) has been surrounded by music his whole life: his father – the late Teddy Pemberton – was a DJ at the University radio station CJSR and was a pioneer in bringing hip hop to the humdrum, working-class town. Cadence Weapon had been rapping reluctantly since he was 13 years old until he decided to pursue rap professionally at 19. He has been dubbed “Rollie the Rapping Canadian,” but gained wider spread recognition as Cadence Weapon and his debut album Breaking Kayfabe (as well as his lesser-known mix: Cadence Weapon is the Black Hand) in 2005. His favorite colour is blue and he does not have a valid drivers license. His new album After Party Babies is set to drop in March 2008 and is best described as a “hip house” record. While some heads might dismiss this endeavor to some Jungle Brothers throwback, Cadence Weapon has assured that it is not; he just wants to make music “that children are conceived by.”

Did you ever get picked on in school for wanting to be a rap star?

Well you know, I never wanted to be a rap star, but I always wanted to be a rapper. As I started getting better at it I started showing people and eventually I ended up rapping at my grad in high school. That was one of the first times I rapped in front of a big crowd, I was completely terrified and forgot the song I wrote, so the grad videotape has me completely fucking up.

“people who like records the most don’t buy records; people who listen to the most music buy the least music.”

Has all the touring given you an insight on the state of Canadian rap?

Some rap in Canada has been my favorite rap overall. Before I was rapping I was really into Peanuts and Corn—they’re a major influence to me. I consider them the best rap in Canada overall. I think it’s a shame that they don’t have way more props than they get.

Just from touring, I find that rap is the same as in the states. I find that West coast rap is a little more laid back just like West coast rap in the U.S. is laid back; but East coast rap in Canada starts getting more violent perhaps or lyrical. I think the state of rap in Canada is good; but we’re in a state of music where people don’t buy records anymore, people who like records the most don’t buy records; people who listen to the most music buy the least music.

Cadence Weapon

Can you on the elaborate on touring, do you generally like it?

Touring is an interesting experience, I feel like I’m in a carnival sometimes, but I like it. I’m already socially awkward enough, so it forces me to meet new people. It’s cool [to make something] and you never think about how far you can go until you’re touring and someone yells out ‘play this song!’— ‘You’ve heard that fucking song?!’

Do you have any awkward experiences?

On my last tour I was playing this festival in Toronto, I did this outdoor show with my label mates and this really thugged out dude starts screaming at me: ‘I’m gonna fucking kill you! I’m going to eat your shit! I could kill you!’ It seemed like he wanted to battle more than actually kill me, so I grabbed his arm and pulled him on stage and I was like ‘Rap!’ So then he starts rapping, it’s like battle rap like he’s going to fucking kill me; he’s going to lay me on the ground like I’m getting a massage – that was one of his lines, which I thought was pretty funny. I finished my set, started DJing and the guy came back again and was still in my face: ‘No seriously, SERIOUSLY, I’m going to fucking eat you!’ Security kicked him out finally around 2 in the morning; at 3am we’re taking our gear down and this guy is on the phone waiting for me, on the phone like: ‘here he is, he’s here now, c’mon!’ So then I got into a cab and left.

Have you met any of your idols?

I played the Pitchfork festival in Chicago and De La Soul was playing, weirdly enough Prince Paul was at the show for some reason on stage with them. I started creeping around the stage and got a photo with him and stuff.

Did you show De La Soul your Stakes is High tattoo?

I managed to show Dave my tattoo and he didn’t seem phased by it at all, so I think they must get a lot of weird guys with De La Soul tattoos coming up to them. Prince Paul as well was not shocked. Maybe he was thinking: ‘Holy fuck, get away from this guy’ because he did kind of creep away.

“For a while there was going to be a song with Buck 65, but I don’t want to use it, I don’t think it suits the vibe. I’m not going to force it.”

How close are you to being able to survive on rap?

I’m getting really close…but I mean that is the ultimate goal for me. I would like to buy a house; other than that, I have no other major goals. I don’t think I’m ever going to get a car, I don’t want to be another asshole on the street, and I don’t want to effect the environment. I can wait, I can take the fucking bus and wait an extra 15 minutes it doesn’t bother me at all.

Cadence WeaponHow and why did you develop the beats you have now?

I used to rap on other people’s beats a lot. The thing a lot of people told me is that ‘it doesn’t sound like you’ and I agreed with that. I started making beats; stuff I thought was more representative of who I am. I’m not out to offend a sector of hip hop fans; I’m not making the music I make with anyone in mind at all. If the music I make sounds weird to other people, that’s just a by-product of myself.

Breaking Kayfabe is more electro and your new album is a hip-house album. What do you say to people who criticize you for making music for critics and not rap heads?

I think that’s funny because what critic would like a hip-house album? No one fucking likes hip-house, I don’t like hip-house, but that’s the best way to [describe] it. It doesn’t sound like Jungle Brothers…but no I definitely don’t do music for other people at all. My whole career I’m going to do something different, I’m never going to put out the same shit. I’ve already started doing some stuff on the next one, it’s just going to be a rap album. I just want to get it over with, like ‘Yes, I can rap.’

I have a career trajectory that I’ve planned out; I want to do an instrumental album, I want to do an album with other rappers, I want to do albums that are completely produced by someone else. I will never repeat myself, unless I literally repeat myself and make my own songs.

What can we expect from After Party Babies?

The title is derived from something my dad used to say when he was entertaining other adults: ‘Rollie was definitely an after party baby’ – I used to listen to this shit. I want to make the kind of music that children are conceived by. The album is not completely dance oriented; probably the most rap oriented beat I’ve done is on it, DJ Nato does that beat. I don’t have any guests on it at all.

You don’t like guests?

I only want to do it if it works for the project. For a while there was going to be a song with Buck 65, but I don’t want to use it, I don’t think it suits the vibe. I’m not going to force it.

Cadence Weapon

People don’t really think of Edmonton as a rap mecca, is it relevant?

People didn’t think that about Minneapolis before Rhymesayers, someone’s got to set a precedent. I feel like the thing I love the most about rap is that there’s so many different voices and so many different ways of portraying yourself and getting your message across. I think it would be a shame to limit yourself; how do you create a cultural identity for a place if you’re not willing to try.

What keeps you in Edmonton?

I got a line on my album saying: ‘the next person to ask me that in an interview might get fucked up!’ I’ve lived in Edmonton my whole life, even when I went to Virginia I was always homesick and I felt completely alienated, a lot of people aren’t open-minded. Coming from a place that is multi-cultural and going to a completely black school…it was different and it was weird.

I have a lot of hope for Edmonton, anything good that can happen to a city can happen here.

Shout outs?

DJ Nato, Touch (the home boy), Deej Weez, Peace to Mindbender and Conspiracy, everyone in LBA, peace to Chaps and the whole Saskatoon rap unit, peace to Scratch Bastid and Buck 65, peace to Peanuts and Corn and all the dudes in Winnipeg, peace to Epic and Kazmega, peace to Giovanni Marks—Fall Fashion is coming (Subtitle and I have a top secret rap project about clothing and girls).

Cadence Weapon “Sharks”

13 Responses

  1. SBU loves cadence weapon…i even said , when mindbender and conspiracy and cadence weapon were at BLACK DOG that ‘cadence should be an honorary member of SBU’…he laughed

    cadence, make edmonton the best


  2. i produced the buck and cadence song and the beat bummmmps, but it will need to be re-done. but trust me it is a club shaker. F’real like Murs 3:167.

  3. I saw things for what they really were last night at the Nas show. I paided $65.00 for my ticket and went in. I had a double allaze and a budwiser. I saw the end of Prosper and that big guy from War Party. They were OK but, I can throw it down as good as them in my opinion. They would tell you otherwise though. They might say something like “Props, Son. thanks for coming out.” I don’t need to deal with people like that anymore. I don’t have the passport. I am a whiteboy and I don’t have the passport. In the eyes of the real hood. White boys are cracked out and will never be hood certified. No matter how many albums they sell. I am not going to waste my time trying to be shady because i don’t like what he stands for. Rollie, Props man for all that. Best of luck. Must be nice to be young and marketable. I’m not! Best of luck making the ultimate paper stack and going platinum. You can have it bro. I am going to law school. that’s what white boys do. I got out of the game before I was even in it. White boy is wack, he is on crack, someone pull of the gat, and end that fool and put him in his backpack. If anyone has any thoughts on this please get ahold of me at

    [email protected]