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Cadence Weapon: Afterparty Babies

Cadence Weapon: Afterparty Babies

Label:Big Dada/anti-
Release Date:2008

By Bret McCabe | Posted 3/26/2008

Kanye West needs to watch his back, because there's a new young MC rattling speakers with an idiosyncratic style and self-analyzing rhymes. And he speaks much more to the here and now than "Have you ever popped champagne on a plane while getting some brain/ Whipped it out, she said, `I never seen snakes on a plane.'" On Afterparty Babies, his debut album proper after two 2005 mixtapes, Cadence Weapon--22-year-old Edmonton, Canada, native and ex-Pitchfork writer Rollie Pemberton--invigorates underground hip-hop with a mess of electro beats, indie-rock bricolage, twee keyboard alloys, and the subject matter of young people who spend their nights unironically dancing to pop and crunk and minimal techno, and their days deep-digging funk and dance-pop and 1960s girl groups and anything else that can fill their MP3 players. And it sure as hell sounds like they're having a blast--even if they don't really know where their lives are heading.

The album's 14 songs whisk by in a nerdy, wordy blur as Pemberton's lines ricochet along as if you're overhearing the argy-bargy of all the text messages and cell-phone conversations going on any given night an hour before (or five hours after) the party starts. Friendster, LiveWire, Defamer, Heroes, Seinfeld, Fleetwood Mac, Marc Bolan, hip-hop hipsters, drugs, booze, getting-girl problems, girl-leaving problems, making friends, avoiding enemies, confronting emptiness, being smart, playing dumb, the terrible ennui of an early twentysomething already nostalgic for his lost youth--thematically Afterparty Babies isn't that different from any young singer/songwriter mining his life in lyrics. Pemberton is merely able to shove it all into his wiseacre brio--viz., "Your Hair's Not Clothes," wherein Pemberton casually observes, "I told my homie John they ain't albums just records/ We don't play chess, only play checkers/ He hears my songs and later wants to see the verses/ So I hang with the idiot like I was Ian Curtis."

Youthful braggadocio is nothing new to hip-hop or indie rock, but Afterparty Babies' lack of preciousness about its precocity is refreshing. Right now Pemberton's beats are too enthralled by their own far-reaching ideas to stitch together any title-fight hooks, but as soon as Pemberton finds his pop rudder, his sincere, goofball chattiness is going to earn him more MySpace friend requests than he knows what to do with.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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