Check out some of the Def Jux catalogue and the Antipop Consortium and you’ll find the odd nugget of gold. Cadence Weapon has a sound that sets him apart from many of today’s young pretenders. That said Cadence Weapon himself is stupidly youthful. A mere 21, he’s already been a reviewer for Pitchfork (now retired � that makes me feel old), and remixed the likes of Death From Above 1979. Still as one great philosopher (or was it filthy paedophile) said, “age ain’t nothin’ but a number”.
Rollie Pemberton (to use his real name for a moment) certainly knows his way around a studio, because Breaking Kaytabe is a solid, dense piece of work. Everything you need to know is contained within opening track Oliver Square. Angular, intense and relentless you get an overriding sense of claustrophobia when Pemberton is in full flow.
Sharks is similarly close and uncomfortable. Twitching away like a broken arcade machine, there is something undeniably unpleasant lurking in these songs. Grim Fandango sounds like a horror movie condensed into three and a half prickly minutes. Black Hand breaks out classic break beats and then goes on to reference Bob Dylan whilst making noise that Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad would be proud of.
Turning On Your Sign loops and loops and loops hypnotically. It builds effortlessly, piling layer upon layer until they threaten to drown out Pemberton’s vocal. It’s the occasionally low placing of the vocals in the mix that is the only thing about Breaking Kaytabe that you can take to task. There is little doubting Pemeberton’s production skills as each of these songs are pieced together with expert care. Mixing together elements of grime, pop, metal, techno, and good old Nintendo his careful assembly of each of these songs displays a prowess that many spend years trying to achieve.
Breaking Kaytabe is not an album packed with hits by any means, but that is hardly the point with a record such as this. As a body of work however it is an important album and one that announces a major talent to the hip hop scene. If this is the quality of his debut, one can only wonder at what Pemberton might come up with in the future. Breaking Kaytabe is without a doubt one of the most impressive releases you’ll hear all year, regardless of genre.