Cadence Weapon


Written by Suzie McCracken
22 Tuesday 22nd May 2012

It's been four years since Afterparty Babies, what have you been up to since then? 

Well, I toured the world all of 2008 and early 2009. I became poet laureate of Edmonton in 2009 and had several responsibilities revolving around that until 2011. I performed at the Vancouver Olympics and played a show for the Queen of England on Canada Day in Ottawa, both in 2010. I took part in a Discovery Channel documentary called the National Parks Project where I made field recordings and original songs in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta for use in a film by Peter Lynch. I was a competitor on a national literary debate on CBC called Canada Reads. I moved to Montreal. Finally, I jammed these new songs out with my band in Toronto during the tail end of 2009 and the first few months of 2010 and recorded the primary sessions for Hope In Dirt City at Chemical Sound in Toronto in April 2010.

Wow. What can we expect from the new album? We love 'Conditioning'. 

Hope In Dirt City is a pretty diverse record. I touch on early ‘80s post-disco, funk, dub and new wave. There are a couple of songs that have a grime feel and are influenced by UK bass music. Most of the songs on this album started as sample demos by me. Then I took them to my band in Toronto, reconstructed them with live instruments, recorded those sessions and then sampled the results to bring it back into the hip-hop realm.

I wanted to make something that harked back to the spirit of very early rap music, like late 70s, early 80s. Before there were rigid constraints on what a rap record had to be. I wanted to embody the freedom and wild energy of early rap. There are a lot of styles on the album but it comes together organically as a complete composition.

I rarely meet people that are both musicians and writers. You used to write for Pitchfork... How does an awareness of music journalism influence your music, or vice versa? Do you think that's the source of the self-consciousness in your tracks?

I’m an inherently analytical person. I think about all of the angles of a situation, all the aspects of the records I listen to and the records I make. That said, when I was writing reviews, it was more of a left brain thing. It didn’t really satisfy me creatively or influence my music. When I make music, it’s a total distillation of my emotional state and I want it to be presented as organically as possible. I’m just a really reflective person and I’m inside my head a lot so that’s expressed in my music. Having done both things does make me more sympathetic to interviewers though.

Rightly or wrongly, in the past people have called you a hipster rapper. Since your last album there has been an influx of more blatantly hipster-friendly hip hop like Das Racist or even Odd Future. Do you feel a kinship with those acts or is it reductive to put yourself in the same bracket as them?

People always feel the need to categorise things they don’t understand. I feel like calling rap 'hipster' or 'backpacker' or whatever is just the easy way out, a lazy characterization. Rappers with a broader frame of reference who look different than what is considered the norm are going to be lumped together. I feel like what I’m trying to do is singular. I see other artists like Das Racist, Shabazz Palaces and Death Grips who seem to be on the same wavelength as me but all of these bands make totally different sounding music from each other and from me.

I just make music and don’t really think about who I’m making it for. The things I choose to write about and the beats that I make might appeal to people who don’t typically listen to rap or might have a specific cultural makeup but I feel like what I’m doing now is rap that anyone can appreciate.

You've previously cited a lot of dance acts as being influential - dance music has changed a lot since 2008. What influenced you from that end of the spectrum whilst making this album?

I’ve gotten a lot more focused on DJing in recent years, throwing afterhours loft parties in Montreal. I usually play a mix of contemporary commercial rap and bass music. On this album, 'There We Go' and 'Hype Man' are sonically pretty reflective of what I would play at a party in Montreal. Some of the stuff on this album was influenced by Kingdom, Green Velvet, Nguzunguzu, Jacques Greene, Mosca and Maurice Fulton.

Cadence Weapon's new album Hope in Dirt City is out on May 29th. This writer's birthday. Send presents.

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