This post is long overdue on what’s quickly becoming one of my favorite albums – hip-hop or otherwise – of the year.
And, apparently, I’m not alone in my feelings for Cadence Weapon’s Breaking Kayfabe, which is a nominee for the Polaris Prize, given to the Canadian Album of the Year without regard to genre. For perspective, other 2006 nominees: Broken Social Scene, the Deadly Snakes, Final Fantasy, Sarah Harmer, K’Naan, Malajube, Metric, the New Pornographers and Wolf Parade. (Our pal Frank at Chromewaves is among the more than 100 jurors to decide the winner.)
You could see the nomination as a way to justify checking the album out; I prefer to view it as a validation – a well-deserved nod to a record layered in complex beats and Cadence Weapon’s wicked flow. (The Edmonton son, born Rollie Pemberton, also writes a blog: Razorblade Runner.)
There’s really nothing orthodox about Breaking Kayfabe. Beats are tweaked and distorted until they sound seedy and industrial under an organized mess of keyboard blips and bleeps. So far as I can tell – I bought it digitally so I lack liner notes – the album also is devoid of guest emcees and the obligatory filler that drags down most hip-hop records.
The lead track, Oliver Square (which I picked for Chris to play on his Sirius show two weeks ago), sets up the rest of the album: diced-up electronic beats while Cadence Weapon takes us on a stroll through Edmonton. He even talks about bustin’ you up with a Stella bottle in what might be the first hip-hop name-check of Stella Artois. Stella is the new 40 oz.
What’s most impressive with each successive listen is the imaginative production. Sample-based production has encouraged a generation of dependent tendencies among beat-makers. Breaking Kayfabe deconstructs the norm, breaking down standard practices into liberal-leaning and slightly warped keyboard ingenuity.