Cadence Weapon: Breaking Kayfabe
Big Dada

Sixtoo: Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man
Ninja Tune

Sixtoo's thirteen-part Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man is all business: the Montreal producer doesn't waste a second titling tracks or arranging for guest MCs to join the fray. Sixtoo (Vaughn Robert Squire) pulls himself through a swamp of vinyl crackle in a brief intro, and then plunges into heavy beatscaping in the dozen sections that follow. After stitching the brooding tracks together from live edits, Sixtoo pared the material down to its exotic essence and grounded it with aggressive hip-hop beats. Throughout the forty-minute suite, ferocious drum grooves slam while shuddering electronics and string samples cultivate moods of noir-like portent. Parts nine and eleven flirt with reggae and jazz but for the most part the disc bleeds a take-no-prisoners brand of tough instrumental hip-hop that admirably cuts straight to the chase; even the dreamy outro hits hard when the beats kick in. Would that all music-makers could be so direct.

Equally viperous is Cadence Weapon's Breaking Kayfabe, a ridiculously accomplished hip-hop debut album from Edmonton 's Roland ‘Rollie' Pemberton. The 21-year-old Canadian throws down with the best of them but what really distinguishes the release is his mad production skills. Rather than rhyming over merely serviceable loops, Pemberton assembles memorable verse-chorus backings which prove as seductive as the vocalizing. His smooth delivery flows expertly through the opener “Oliver Square,” for example, but the song's scalpel-sharp beats and hiccupping verse and lethal synth-heavy chorus melodies make an equally forceful impression. It's similarly tough to choose between the old-school groove and hornet synth swarm in “Sharks” or the vocal hook that alternates an unintelligible garble with the lines “That means stop bitin' my shit / That means start writin' your shit.” The furious rattlesnake beats that snake through “Fathom” are so distracting, one barely notices the bitter rhymes unspooling overtop (“You cannot fathom how people can be / When it comes to this business and industry”), and in the also memorable “Black Hand,” Pemberton drapes biting rhymes over old-school breaks and a bluesy guitar-infested backing. His jones for viral beats and synths comes forth boldly in head-choppers like “Diamond Cutter,” “Lisa's Spider,” and “Vicarious” while the dizzying “Grim Fandango” and “Holy Smoke” include blistering turntable moments. Put simply, Dabrye and Dilla fans should find much to cotton to in Cadence Weapon's next-level hip-hop.

October 2007