Edmonton, Alberta: doesn’t sound like a prime spot for the coolest afterparties. However, Cadence Weapon’s new album, “Afterparty Babies,” tries to change that conception.
Hitting you like a wave of Daft Punk and Dr. Dre, “Afterparty Babies” capitalizes on the recent electro hip-hop trend with heavily synthesized beats and capitalist lyrics. Indeed, Canada’s social democracy seems to be going well for Mr. Weapon. “I’m not a master / I just do what I have to to get rich,” he affirms.
Definitely the most appealing of the songs on the album is “House Music,” which was released earlier this month on iTunes. With cut and mixed electronic heaviness, it’s got a beat that you can blast from your white Lexus whilst waiting at the traffic lights — and still be cool in the eyes of most hipsters. “Y’all know what I’m talking ’bout, / I’m in the house” might sound like typical hip-hop lyrics, but they just can’t be when they’re set to a beat that’s more schizophrenic than sizzlin’. Mr. Weapon’s attempt to surpass the general attitude of most commercial hip-hop is laudable, and he manages to produce a sound that veers from the ordinary.
Sadly, once the novelty has worn off, Mr. Weapon’s beats just provide letdown after letdown.
It’s just like the “worst DJ night ever” that he describes in the dialogue at the end of “House Music” : “We had one good night and it just progressively got worse and worse.” Come on, Cadence, you’ve got to work on the follow-up! Songs like “In Search of The Youth Crew” do show potential, but there’s very little about the album that feels fully formed. Esoteric “hip-hop hipsters” like Mr. Weapon would do well to follow ideas through to their logical conclusion. When the same sounds are repeated again and again, it doesn’t make a song cool, it makes it annoying.
The afterparty babies have obviously been retarded by the electro rave drugs, if Edmonton is even that intense.
When Mr. Weapon says, “I wonder why we move away” (about fifteen thousand times) in “Move Away,” it leaves one wondering: Why did Cadence Weapon ever decide to move away from the electro hip-hop sound that he established with solid rapping at the beginning of the song to a corny, sliding synth repeated again and again?
Indeed, he unconsciously acknowledges this in another song, “Messages Matter,” moving clearly over the lines “everyone is meant to be a DJ and every party is meant to be great” in a fluid rapping style. It seems impossible to believe that this is the same rapper who produced “True Story,” which sounds like Daddy Yankee … with synthesizers, duh. Here, he rises above the role he seems to have created for himself as a bad Kanye mimic at a children’s party and comes into his own, a prophet, telling us his “message.” And damn, we’re going to sit up and listen.
The album is almost impossible to listen to in its entirety; there are few good songs and several patches of samey tracks. Although Mr. Weapon seems interested enough to satirize modern society, his songs can come off as obnoxious. With lyrics such as “Just bought a house / Can’t deal with the space,” Weapon seems more likely to offend than amuse and, despite the critique of consumerism implied in his treatment of brand celebrities such as Brad and Angelina, humor is exactly what Mr. Weapon is in need of.
Perhaps this is too harsh, because Cadence Weapon isn’t a force of evil. He may have not yet reached aesthetic maturity, but he isn’t the kind of rapper who advocates killing or violence. He has acknowledged rap as a force … for dance.
Just as San Francisco rappers are pumping out E’d up hyphy dance music (“Hyphy, I don’t really know what that means,” raps Mr. Weapon in “Mixed Messages”), Alberta rappers are trying to push forward into the new zone of rap that’s currently being explored. Admirably, Mr. Weapon is attempting to create a dance music scene in an environment that is rather colder.