Cadence Weapon

Hope in Dirt City

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An exciting mix of weird and tough, Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon often sounds like Del the Funky Homosapien if he were a member of G-Unit, but on Hope in Dirt City, he's much more, breaking into a chest-beating, rock ballad scream on the hooky highlight "Conditioning" and going full dub poet on the reverb-drenched, reggae-drenched "Small Deaths." A mixed batch of genres like electro (the anti-industry "(You Can't Stop) The Machine"), Hot Chip-styled indie funk (the twitchy "Jukebox"), and trunk-rumbling hip-hop from the Wu-Tang side of the street (the dark highlight "Hype Man") makes this the underground rapper's most musically ambitious album to date, and his superior rhymes don't take a hit at all, even if he's mellowed and slowed his pace a touch, which fits his increased love of introspection. Hook-filled songs are built to be accessible up front, and the album is well-designed as a whole, spacing out its prime numbers all the way to the end where the new wave-inspired title track offers an '80s beat and that rambling wordplay that only exists in the post-Mos Def world. Another solid and easy to recommend effort in a discography that already has a couple, which begs the question as to why Cadence Weapon isn't a bigger name, even among the underground hip-hop faithful?

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