It's been more than four years since Edmonton's most well-known rapper (and former poet laureate) released his last album, 2008's Afterparty Babies, an original mélange of hip hop and electronic music.
A lot has changed since then. For one, Cadence Weapon doesn't live here anymore. Since moving to Montreal, though, he's found new ways of expressing his music, both instrumentally and lyrically.
The new album, Hope in Dirt City, which was named after an Edmonton-centric poem of his, will be released May 29, 2012. Check out the first single and video, "Conditioning," a dark yet upbeat combination of rap and blues.
Let's start with the name: “Dirt City,” few know this is a sort of underground nickname for Edmonton. Why do people call it that?
It’s a self-deprecation thing, putting down the city before other people can, a way of wearing that “dirt” as a badge of honour. It’s a very Canadian thing, being proud of harsh winters and hard work and all that.
So, why did you name the album Hope in Dirt City?
It’s derived from a poem I wrote around the same time called “New Strathcona (Dirt City).” The poem is a rallying cry for young Edmontonians, a way of feeling good about the city despite the negative aspects of it. A lot of the album was written while in Edmonton and feeling existential dread, snowstorms in April and all that. It’s about positivity in the face of darkness.
I heard there's a collaboration with elecro/indie-pop artist Grimes, who’s really hot right now, on the album. Tell me about it.
I asked Claire [Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes] if I could rap over the beat from her song, “Eight.” I received the instrumental for it and wrote my own song over it called “88.” It won’t be on the album. It isn’t really a collaboration, but we’re planning to work on something properly in the near future.
So, what can we expect to hear on it?
There’s outside production by LOL Boys, Doldrums, Victor Bongiovanni, Melee and The Breezes. Buck 65 has a verse on it. These songs explore parts of my personality that I haven’t really expressed very clearly before in my music. Sex and death figure prominently. A few songs are extended metaphors about rap culture.
Last time we spoke with you, you were working on Roquentin, an album recorded with a live band. Is this a simple instance of the album being renamed or is Hope In Dirt City a totally different project?
I just felt like changing the name of the album. “Roquentin” was not scrapped; these are the same sessions. More than half of the songs feature live instrumentation that has been resampled and reconfigured into beats by me.