Review: Cadence Weapon, “Afterparty Babies”

Cadence Weapon
Afterparty Babies

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

The number of MCs who rely on dance-centric sounds has increased dramatically. Yet not many within the party rap scene have been able to move past a carefree, sex-saturated paradigm. No doubt, there’s a time and place for booty anthems, but Alberta, Canada’s Cadence Weapon is part of the hip-hop minority that believes there’s room for intelligence and variety in the club.

While Cadence Weapon’s sophomore release, Afterparty Babies, isn’t made entirely for enjoyment on linoleum floors, it does draw heavily from multiple dance styles. His up-tempo beats certainly make a curious and oft-effective pairing with his steadily shrewd raps. Taking influence from the sounds of his youth and experiences as a DJ, Afterparty Babies exudes plenty of party vibes, including the bouncy house styling of “In Search of the Youth Crew” and the electro-inspired “Getting Dumb.” On both tracks, Cadence openly raps about relationships and his generation while encouraging you to turn off the TV set and thinking for yourself. What works about these tracks is that he doesn’t beat listeners over the head with his wits or BPMs — he finds a balance.

There’s no denying that Cadence often succeeds at combining club sounds with sharp lyricism. But he can’t always have it both ways. With the frenetic new single, “House Music,” or “We Move Away,” his production overpowers the tracks to the point where you don’t necessarily want to pay attention to what he’s saying. At moments like this, Cadence arguably leaves his hip-hop foundation too far behind him. He still stands strongest when implementing his chopped-up video game style – the same direction he took on his 2005 breakout single, “Sharks.”

The good news is Cadence often updates this approach, most notably on “Limited Edition OJ Slammer.” This electro-meets-classic-arcade joint continues the danceable thread of the album while allowing room for textured sample manipulation. And amid the glitchy blips and video game synths, Cadence also drops some of his most biting social commentary as he deconstructs the devious nature of celebrity-focused tabloids and TV news coverage.

Even when he’s just commenting on club trends (“The New Face of Fashion”), though, Cadence Weapon is an enjoyable MC to listen to. His flow is effortless and conversational. True, his formula of rare IDM and complex lyrics doesn’t always work. But with Afterparty Babies, Cadence does his best at diving deep into the party movement while not giving in to one-dimensional sex rhymes.

— Max Herman

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