Monday, February 11, 2008

leak of the week - afterparty babies

to hear rollie pemberton tell it, the life of a 21 year old internationally respected rapper isn't actually all peaches and cream. on afterparty babies, his first album for anti-, pemberton, better known as cadence weapon, bemoans the loneliness of touring, the duplicity of fame, and the somewhat questionable honor of being "an accident." though his debut breaking kayfabe was released in 2005, it wasn't until last year that pemberton really began to get the attention he deserved, due primarily to his uniform rejection of hip hop convention. an album that defied even the most progressive interpretations of the genre with its 8 bit beats and mostly rhymeless flow, breaking kayfabe (a title that references a relatively disguised pro wrestling technique) stretched the fabric of hip hop, and was utterly alluring and almost indigestible. thankfully, if not surprisingly, afterparty babies promises more of the same, only better. pemberton's conversational delivery, a mix of bitter soliloquy and nonchalant fatalism, and his own acerbic and intensely melodic beats have been honed in the two-plus years of touring in support of kayfabe, presenting us again with an album that could very well be unlistenable if it wasn't so brilliant.

the first thing about afterparty babies that really makes an impression (after opening track "do i miss my friends," which consists of pemberton's looped acapella) is the almost unreasonable amount of melody in his beats. almost entirely self-produced (as was kayfabe), babies exemplifies pemberton's wholesale refusal of any conventional beatmaking process. mostly devoid of bass, and intentionally so (he spits "just bought a beat / can't deal with the bass" on "real estate"), babies rolls with melodies so thick as to obscure his own flow, swirling, glitchy vortexes that don't stand still. hip hop production is usually straightforward - one beat for the verse and one for the chorus - but babies relies on unstable sounds that flit between cuts by dj weez-l (cadence weapon's traveling dj) and pemberton's own deviant electronics. "in search of the youth crew," the first track released from the album, is aggressively top-loaded, but it is "limited edition of oj slammer" that exemplifies the exaggerated glitch of babies, harshly inorganic sounds that are not mere complements for pemberton's flat delivery. with only the exception of "do i miss my friends," afterparty babies cements cadence weapon's outsider approach to beatmaking, a radical process that exceeds similar efforts from other IDM artists.

beat-wise, afterparty babies is mostly more of the same of kayfabe, only better produced (and glitchier). pemberton's lyrical maturation is the album's real highlight. a little more brazen and a little more lonely, pemberton has filled out as a lyricist, honing his mostly rhymeless flow and letting free associations inspire him. he talks more trash but seems more wounded - on "do i miss my friends" he tells us "i have friends who don't know my name" - but his hyper-intellectual delivery is impressive, to say the least. throughout babies, he belittles hollywood ("tom cruise and katie holmes was my idea"), pop music ("it used to be 'i wanna be your dog' but now it's 'who let the dogs out?'"), "hip hop hipsters / dearly departed," mocks tattoos for a whole song, and, as so many have done before him, trashed major labels on the anthemic "real estate." most poignant, however, may be "juliann wilding," a person and a song whom pemberton acknowledges as a inspiration for the record. checkered with equal parts charisma and disgust, babies finds pemberton in excellent lyrical form.

get ready to buy afterparty babies when anti- releases it on march 4.

1 comment:

Juliann Wilding said...

dope, this album is deep. mr weapon's poetry makes me ache, and i'm being totally serious. x.x o.o