The pandemic led to a breakthrough for Edmonton-born rapper Rollie Pemberton, aka Cadence Weapon. In the darkness and isolation wrought by it, he crafted a crisp 10-song, 26-minute album that is the most politically charged collection of songs he’s produced. Parallel World is full of references to Canadian Black experiences and history that earned him the 2021 Polaris Prize, his first after being nominated twice previously. Edmonton’s former poet laureate has embraced the role of activist/artist with cutting wordplay that rallies for change and rails against technological and systemic machines while electro-infused beats provide a suitably claustrophobic sound. This is the culmination of nearly two decades behind the boards and on the decks, acclaimed releases and relentless touring (not counting a hiatus from music industry machinations) – this lyricist is inspired and enraged by issues and experiences, personal and political. Parallel World is a dystopian soundbath reflecting both the pandemic-onset world in which it was written and the long simmering social justice explosion of the past two years, with an energy that captures Cadence Weapon’s incendiary live performances.
Biography by Derek McEwen