Recently I was having Quite an animated conversation with a Quality journalist friend of mine who writes for a Quintessential music magasine, the name of which I shall not Quote. When I asked him what he was listening to at the moment he sighed and told me of his disillusionment with the current music scene and said he only listens to old stuff now. His point was that no one makes complete albums anymore, they just make collections of singles. "Quite the opposite" I replied but then struggled to think of any examples to back me up. Well now I have one and if you're reading my friend, you may Quote me on that.
"My Dad said I was an afterparty baby; this goes out to all the accidents out there; keep on making mistakes." And so goes the dedication featured on Do I Miss My Friends, the opening track on this followup to Cadence Weapon's critically acclaimed debut Breaking Kayfabe. " I wanted to make music that afterparty babies were created to," explains Cadence Weapon aka Rollie Pemberton. Acting as a testament to Rollie's first influence, his father, Teddy Pemberton, creator of the Black Sound Experience Radio show and introducer of hip-hop to Rollie's hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Afterparty Babies is a hectic journey through the world of club nights and house parties. This theme is explored through stories of friends, crews, nightmare DJ nights, hometowns, heroes, media and fashion.
Musically this is quite different from its predecessor. Where Breaking Kayfabe led with swirling, back-breaking electronic hip hop this one opts for a more electro/techno pace that serves to remove this artist from the hip hop roots that he may have once planted. Having seen him slot in a Joy Division cover at his London warm-up show last year, it's no surprise this album has moved on considerably from the debut and is the product of an artist open to a healthy array of musical influences. Pemberton presents an interesting juxtaposition between this thoughtful 'Wonder Years' style reminiscing and the harsh electro sound clash that carries it.
In my review of Breaking Kayfabe I was compelled to compare Cadence Weapon to a rampaging Terminator hell bent on destruction. It was a tenuous link I admit and made partly out of boredom of review-writing and also because 30 Seconds had a chorus that sounded a bit like The Terminator chase music. So I can't help feeling a sense of irony when mid-way through Afterparty Babies the song Messages Matter features a sample from Kindergarten Cop. " Who is your Daddy and what does he do?" comes the line and with it some interesting questions. Is Afterparty Babies the Kindergarten Cop to Breaking Kayfabe's Terminator? Are we seeing the human side of the cyborg? In a sense yes. It's not as hard hitting or relentless as the debut, it definitely has a lighter feel to it, it's more enjoyable and while you're jumping along to the uncharacteristically housey beats you know he's undercover and at the start of the movie you saw him kick someone's ass.
This may differ from the debut in all the ways mentioned earlier, it may be more melodic, spacious and palatable but let it run its course and you'll see it's just as tough as Breaking Kayfabe. It plays out like a night out clubbing but in reverse. It starts off strangely downtempo with Do I Miss My Friends? and by the end it's full on techno. There's no wind down, no gentle walk home with a kebab, it leaves you at top tempo to find your own way out. At the live show songs like In Search Of The Youth Crew and Real Estate were instant crowd pleasers and they don't disappoint here but instead become repetitive anthemic chants to Pemberton's Afterparty generation. True Story and Getting Dumb are electro master-classes, chucking in vintage house techniques with cuts and scratches and all topped by the most intricately crafted rhymes. It's certainly an album of 2 halves with the final few tracks providing the weight to this extraordinary record. Pemberton exited the stage at the Amersham Arms to House Music. It had the crowd jumping like a bunch of idiots and it has the same effect here. It's a dirty, crazy five and a half minutes. It swirls and bleeps to clapping beats and air-raid style sirens and it rules. By the time we get to the album closer We Move Away the techno conversion is complete. The club is in full swing and after a while the music even overtakes the creator and rises to a life of its own ending the album in almost 2 minutes of banging beats and grinding synths that threaten to go on until first light.
This has the feel of an album released by a well established hip-hop name that suddenly breaks from tradition and goes out on a limb, thus alienating hardened fans. It's exciting to see an artist do this so early and I can't imagine Cadence Weapon ever settling into a style. With this album he joins the ranks of MC's like Aesop Rock and Buck 65 as creators of their own style of hip-hop, constantly evolving and gathering up every influence and experience in their path. I am already eager to hear what this guy's got up his sleeve next and I bet I can find a Schwarzenegger link in it somewhere.