TORONTO – Cadence Weapon won the 2021 Polaris Music Prize for their album “Parallel World”.
The Edmonton-raised rapper’s full-length record – which fuses hip-hop, electronic and grime music in a reflection on social injustice – was selected by an 11-member grand jury as the best Canadian album of the year, in according to his artistic merit.
The recognition comes with a $ 50,000 prize and increased notoriety for the artist who has been part of the Canadian music industry for over a decade, but who is still widely considered underground.
“I can’t believe this is happening, I feel amazing,” he said on webcam Monday as he accepted the honor from home.
The 35-year-old musician’s victory comes after two of his previous albums were shortlisted by Polaris, âBreaking Kayfabeâ in 2006 and âHope in Dirt Cityâ in 2012, but failed to win the award.
âParallel Worldâ, his fifth album, was already the darling of music critics who applauded how his 10 songs which played over 26 minutes left a lasting impact. Some have credited the record with capturing a unique perspective in Toronto on the experience of black people in Canada grappling with gentrification, technology and history.
âI definitely made music with a journalistic purpose,â he said, acknowledging that much of the inspiration for the album came from watching the George Floyd protests last year.
Cadence Weapon, nÃ©e Rollie Pemberton, moved to Toronto in 2015 after spending many of her formative years in Montreal. But before that, he was already on the radar of the Canadian art scene, named Edmonton Poet Laureate for two years in 2009.
His family ties to Edmonton run deep. His late father, Teddy, was a college radio hip-hop DJ while his grandfather, Rollie Miles, played with the CFL Eskimos for 11 years.
While accepting the Polaris Prize, Pemberton laid out his early plans to use some of his âresourcesâ to organize voter registration events around the Toronto municipal and Ontario provincial elections.
âWe need changes in our leadership and we need to make things fairer so that the townspeople can vote,â he said, calling on other interested musicians to join him in his quest.
At a press conference after the award was announced, he told reporters he also plans to use some of the award money to help some Toronto crowdfunding campaigns reach their goal, including one for the community of Little Jamaica, which is touched by a light. a rail transport line that will soon pass through the region.
Pemberton also reflected on the nation’s political landscape a week after polling stations closed for the early federal election.
“I also just want to take this time to mention that Justin Trudeau has worn blackface so many times he can’t even remember how many times, and he just got a third term,” he said. in his Polaris acceptance speech.
“And that’s exactly why I need to make rap records that are political, that deal with these topics because it’s still a fact today.”
The Polaris Music Prize recognizes the artist or group who created the previous year‘s outstanding Canadian album, regardless of genre or sales, as chosen by a team of journalists, broadcasters and bloggers.
It is considered one of the most prestigious music awards in the country. Past winners include Backxwash, Haviah Mighty, Jeremy Dutcher and Kaytranada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 27, 2021.
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