Why read reviews? Why indulge the prescriptive, self-absorbed ramblings and opinions of strangers? (Hi.) It's probably to determine a sensibility: an authority on a kind of music can explain what kind of music a record or whatever is. Fine. But the process is one step removed when the music in question is its own kind of reportage, provided by an ambassador of a lifestyle that's almost entirely about cultural creation and consumption. Such is the gestalt of youth culture, and rapper/beat-maker/remixer (and former music writer) Rollie “Cadence Weapon” Pemberton is a capable authority.
Pemberton is a phenomenon, and Afterparty Babies is phenomenal. This kid is as astute an observer of his own age and place in the world (young, cool, virile) as Philip Roth is of his (old, respected, impotent). Pemberton's 2005 debut, Breaking Kayfabe, was just as sharp and willful, but Afterparty Babies fulfills its sophomoric duty by expanding on its predecessor's aggro intelligence. His particular talent is to invite in every preoccupation of a young male's mind and ego, including the conflicting, unappealing debris. Pemberton has little truck with pedantry, and his rarely rhyming diatribes about party people are whip-smart and unforgiving, all spread over electro disharmonies and toy-factory soundtracks.
Pemberton raps about the intricacies of irony, of cool detachment, of protective social worlds. “Juliann Wilding,” “Do I Miss My Friends?” and “We Move Away” are mostly about the importance, the letdowns and revelations, of friends and scenes. “In Search of the Youth Crew,” “True Story” (the disc's best song) and “Real Estate” are punchy screeds about the day-to-day of the unlikely spokesperson for Canada's legions of thinking hipsters (he's from Edmonton). The gravitas owed to being twentysomething is constant, both critical and celebratory. No sycophant in his own world, Cadence Weapon is a soldier of the real.