Cadence Weapon doesn’t like to rhyme on the spot.
“I’m so into the written word, and I really like to visualize what I’m saying,” he said after I asked him to freestyle during our interview on Jan. 19.
“You gotta see what I do when I’m really thinking about it … That’s the really good stuff.”
Rollie Pemberton played under the stage name Payroll until 2005, when he renamed himself Cadence Weapon and released his first studio rap album, Breaking Kayfabe, in 2005.
“It’s kind of like a mission statement,” he said. “I found myself repeating the same mantra after a while.
“My cadence is my weapon.”
Pemberton grew up in Edmonton where his dad spent 45 years as a DJ, spinning mostly rap and R&B on Edmonton’s CSJR FM.
“Rap in America is different, it’s been happening there for such a dramatically long time,” he said. “Canadian rap is embryonic in comparison.”
But Edmonton’s former Poet Laureate isn’t quick to call himself a rapper.
“If you listen to my music it’s a mix of several genres,” he said. “I’m making a futuristic, electronic rap hybrid.”
Pemberton gets inspiration from Canadian producers — including Manitoban production company Peanuts and Corn, founded by Western Canadian Music Award nominee mcenroe.
He said Canadian rap is its own genre entirely.
“I feel like it’s a totally different world coming out of New York City or something,” he said. “The whole infrastructure’s already been built.
“In Canada, I feel like I’m still part of a foundation for this music.”
Pemberton still draws inspiration from his Western Canadian roots — even though he’s currently based in Montreal.
“I feel like there’s this sensation to want to be as general as possible so as many people will like you,” he said. “I feel a duty to represent where I’m from.
“Even if it means rapping about Money Mart or something.” Cadence Weapon has released two studio albums and three mixtapes. His latest release, Tron Legacy: The Mixtape, layers raps over tracks by Gucci Mane and Arcade Fire.
“I’m always more interested in the creative side of things,” he said. “Despite however successful I end up being, I don’t ever see myself hanging out pool side rather than making music.”
Cadence Weapon plays the Grad Club on Jan. 27 and 28. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15.