Cadence Weapon - Afterparty Babies
Blending hip-hop and electronic beats is hardly a new idea, but it rarely sounds this fresh and exciting. No doubt it helps that Rollie Pemberton, the 22-year-old Canadian rapper and producer behind this release, has impeccable credentials in both camps. As well as laying down vocals for the next Simian Mobile Disco album and touring with the likes of Klaxons and Hot Chip, he's appeared on record with underground rap MCs including Buck 65 and Antimc.
Although his debut, Breaking Kayfabe, was only released in this country last September, this second long player has been three years in the making. It's a gap that's allowed Pemberton plenty of time to perfect his studied blend of synths and silver-tongued wit, and the results are explosive. The album maintains a high level of consistency through its hour-plus runtime, peaking with Limited Edition OJ Slammer and House Music, which between them pack the harshest beats and sharpest wordplay on the LP. There are no cheesy keyboards to be found here, rather razor-sharp drum patterns and glistening 8-bit riffs to back the MC's distinctive flow. Pemberton's no one-trick pony though, Do I Miss My Friends fuses hip-hop with doo-wop in a way that has no right to work but really, really does, while Getting Dumb is hard-edged enough to recall Nine Inch Nails, packing in a half-screamed refrain and nasty, industrial snare beats.
It's a subtly eclectic work that never never sounds run of the mill, with tracks like Real Estate and the juddering True Story bundled with hooks that'll get stuck in your mind for days. The assorted brush offs, observances and asides casually slipped into tracks are all wonderfully eloquent, jumping from reference to reference in a way that sounds do effortless it can only have been the result of hard graft and sweat. The stories of the oddballs, hangers on and new friends Mr. Weapon has encountered during his rapid rise and the people that have stuck with him through it (many of whom are pictured on the sleeve) are often laugh-out-loud funny and never less than engaging. A work underpinned by fierce intelligence and a great sense of fun, Afterparty Babies is a tremendous achievement.