Cadence Weapon: Parallel World (eOne, 2021)

May 3, 2021 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Cadence Weapon: Parallel World

Rollie Pemberton’s newest album is his most politically charged release, immediately proclaiming “Black is back” and addressing gentrification and the government’s failure to recognize Black people. “Skyline” sums up the dystopian reality of these issues in 2 minutes. As ever, the noted journalist, former Poet Laureate of Edmonton, and soon-to-be memoir author’s lyrics are sharp and literate, but they’re on another level from the college-age club stories of his early albums, tackling big issues while also displaying a renewed sense of confidence. The surveillance-preoccupied “On Me” continues Pemberton’s from-the-beginning fascination with U.K. grime, featuring a guest verse by Manga Saint Hilare and production by Strict Face. “Play No Games” is closer to the purple sound from the late ’00s, with very busy, wobbly production backing pointed lyrics (“my prime minister wears blackface but he don’t really wanna face Blacks”). “SENNA” (with frequent collaborator Jacques Greene) is much closer to drill, complete with ad-libs, but with more of a euphoric rave atmosphere. Jimmy Edgar’s production on “WATER” (ft. Fat Tony) is brittle and tense, and “Eye to Eye” is less claustrophobic but still blood-chilling. Polaris winner Backxwash provides a cathartic guest verse on “Ghost”. “Connect” is a bit more dreamy and IDM-y, and closer to the more inward-looking and melodic material he’s made before. For the most part, though, this isn’t an album of hype club jams or introspection, and it’s nothing like the hipster nostalgia of his track on the last Jacques Greene album — it’s easily the most urgent Cadence Weapon record.

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