Music

Cadence Weapon: Afterparty Babies

Rollie Pemberton has solidified the distinctive elements of his style on Afterparty Babies -- but in so doing, he's perhaps narrowed Cadence Weapon's appeal.


Cadence Weapon

Afterparty Babies

Label: Anti
US Release Date: 2008-03-04
UK Release Date: 2008-03-03
Amazon
iTunes

Afterparty Babies, the sophomore album from Canadian music critic-turned-rapper Rollie Pemberton, is a tough but scattered affair, referencing almost as many styles as those he lambasts. Well, it's been a while since Pemberton wrote about music, and he's grown into this renegade hip-hop star's persona comfortably.

As on his debut Breaking Kayfabe, the highlight of the album is Pemberton's varied and witty lyrical content. Whether he's talking about Gorillas in the Mist and Heroes villain Sylar in "In Search of the Youth Crew" or referencing The Wire later on, Pemberton is an insightful and spry parser of pop culture. Moreover, Afterparty Babies is well aware of young life's various absurdities, commenting on them from the point of view of a hyper self-aware, intelligent twenty-something outsider. But it's when he's dealing with more personal matters that Pemberton's language probably hits hardest -- "Tattoos (And What You Feel Like)" twists after a verse on the theme of the title to a self-analysis of sensitivity and failed relationships. Speaking to the tattoo artist, he says "I'm just a really sensitive dude … You're a cheaper shrink and you put something on me". It's ironic, of course, but still compelling.

When Pemberton's being only half-serious, or when he's playfully experimenting with different genres, he shows he can write either a savage musical hook or craft a fierce club beat. "True Story" showcases both, its stuttered beat aggressive and mechanical and the synth theme that builds into the refrain. "Do I Miss My Friends?" is a cheerful nostalgia-rap couched in a capella beatboxes and an mm-bop, mm-bop accompaniment. "Messages Matter", an angrier track that uses pointed loops of strings, is Cadence Weapon at his most cerebral, lamenting with acute observation the lack of feeling in the MySpace/emoticon/Cobrasnake generation. If there is a constant throughout Afterparty Babies, it's the club-oriented, aggressive electro beats. These come into focus through echoing '80s drumbeats and hyperactive computer-generated imitations of old-school rap scratches. Mostly this is employed for pointed, upbeat effect -- occasionally, as on "House Music", it parodies itself. When it accompanies an innovative flow, as with the 1-3, 2-4 rhyme scheme of "We Move Away", this can be quite compelling. But it's also, generally, club music rather than music that works particularly effectively as songs.

The old-school-tinged refrains to the songs is where Cadence Weapon consciously veers away from the mainstream. "The New Face of Fashion" is all ironic complement, making fun of the Misshapes/Nudie Jeans/Diesel-wearing crowd mercilessly. However, on tracks like "In Search of the Youth Crew" the repetition of the chorus eventually drags the track down. Overall, Pemberton has solidified the distinctive elements of his style on Afterparty Babies -- but in so doing, he's perhaps narrowed Cadence Weapon's appeal. Positioning himself as defiantly outsider suits the Canadian rapper, though. You get the feeling he wouldn't want to be one of the "rappers on the radio" anyway.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Music

Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum
Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Music

Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.

Music

Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.