Artist Interview: Cadence Weapon

*Article and photo from last year*

Words by Isabella Soares
Photo by Myles Tiessen

It has been quite a year for Edmonton-born hip hop superstar Cadence Weapon. Following the deluxe edition release of his latest studio album, Parallel Words, he is not only heading back to live events, but also promoting his memoir, Bedroom Rapper. Stylus Magazine had the chance to catch up with Weapon ahead of his performance at the Big Blue @ Night stage at the 2022 Winnipeg Folk Festival. 

Having grown up in the prairies, the artist was fond of concerts and festivals in Edmonton from an early age. When he progressed from being a festival-attendee to a performer at SXSW, Primavera Sound, and others, Weapon continued to look at the experience with an even greater level of appreciation. 

“I think it is the best way to enjoy music and share music with people. I really appreciate the communal spirit. There are certain things that you can do with a big festival crowd that you can’t do in other shows and I really like to engage with the audience. We haven’t had the chance to do a lot of festivals throughout the last two years, and I feel like this is the first summer that things are finally back,” he says.

Before hopping back on stage in Winnipeg, Weapon wanted to make his performance one to remember. Given his long-lasting partnership with Winnipeg’s own DJ CO-OP, he decided to invite his collab partner to join him for Folk Fest. The two were able to reignite the remixes they used to do a few years back.

“There is something that I talk in the book [Bedroom Rapper] about DJ CO-OP. We used to have this way of performing, where it would be like a mega mix of my own music and other people’s tracks. I always wanted to go back to that and we haven’t been able to for a few years.”

Rapper, producer, poet, and now published author, writing has always been a part of Weapon’s trajectory. As a former journalism student and Pitchfork Media contributor, the artist always used his platform to enlighten audiences about the hip hop community. Bedroom Rapper has been an extension of that practice by including his personal story in the music scene, as well as an in-depth take on hip hop music for the last 20 years. 

“I went through all my old emails and just kind of reminded myself of how things went down. It was really emotional at times to just remember these situations, but also really cathartic,” Weapon says.

His latest album, Parallel Worlds, is his most political work yet. Inspired by the repercussions of George Floyd’s death, Weapon took it upon himself to translate the conversations being held all over the media to his music. The final product garnered the 2021 Polaris Music Prize. 

“It’s definitely like one of those quotes by Chuck D: “Hip hop is like the Black CNN.” I feel like that is still relevant, and I do my own spin on it. I was just noticing mainstream media talking about race, microaggressions, and structural racism for the first time ever. That really emboldened me to go all out in these subjects on the record. I didn’t want to hold anything back and the fact that it won a Polaris Music Prize is so gratifying.”

Eager to speak up through his art and collaborate with talents from all over the world, as seen in Parallel World (Deluxe Edition), Weapon is here to ensure that music and current affairs are indeed intertwined.

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