The term 'hip-house' re-entered music review parlance last year, following Kanye West's all-major-label-guns-blazing reinterpretation of Daft Punk's glitzy electro-disco 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger'. The.ahem.'hip-house' aesthetic of Cadence Weapon's 'House Music', an Edmonton-born producer and MC upon whom the irony of such labelling is not lost, is more akin to Vertex-era Buck 65 (who Cadence is currently touring with) filtering the deeper house of Daft Punk's earlier work on the album 'Homework', particularly tracks like 'Revolution 909' and 'Da Funk'.
This rather more knowing approach allows Cadence Weapon to explore the identity crisis inherent in trying to meld the Edmonton club sound he is surrounded by, and the Anticon-esque lyrical sarcasm he is clearly schooled in ("I've know who I am for longer than I remember, but that was before I met you."). 'House Music' plays off the tedium of club behaviour ("I know some bathrooms, they did a couple of lines in'em) against the tedium of hip hop clichés ("I rap about drugs, I do it for my family") whilst managing to somehow work as a club track that avoids hip hop clichés. Cadence lays bare this uncomfortable musical coupling before the chorus bursts into a full on dance floor work out, courtesy of some Bassment Jaxx sirens and a huge garage-synth riff, during which he reminds us that he is, after all, 'in the house'. It's vital, unrelenting stuff that underscores an original talent.
The pounding 4/4 electro rhythm, the kaleidoscopic use of sounds, and the intentionally over-stated vocal delivery strongly recalls Saul Williams' 'List of Demands', an artist whose 'project' seems to mirror Cadence Weapon's in a number of ways. Both have an uncanny ability make big statements by exposing their problematic position as artists, and both design their production to smash you in the face - musical subtlety offers nothing to their quest to directly connect the message. The subtlety comes through the wordplay and the self-deprecating awareness of what the music implies. Good though 'House Music' is, there are better tracks on his recently released album 'Afterparty Babies' on Big Dada recordings. He's over in the UK in May, and is well worth a look.