Parallel World

Parallel World

Cadence Weapon’s Polaris Music Prize-winning fifth album is his most political to date—which, coming from a Black rapper trying to survive in one of Canada’s most expensive cities, means it’s also his most personal. Setting his pugilistic rhymes to frantic, fractured beatscapes, Parallel World finds Rollie Pemberton vividly capturing the desperation and disorientation of living in Toronto circa 2021 through a distinctly Black lens. He shares his lived experiences of a place where immigrant neighborhoods are displaced in the name of rapid-transit expansion, politicians favor corporations over communities, and police surveillance is omnipresent both on the streets and in smartphones. “I don’t recognize the skyline/And I can’t see the sunshine,” he observes amid the future-shocked electronics of “Skyline,” assuming a crestfallen voice that could’ve come off a vintage blues 78, linking his present-day problems to a broader history of Black struggle. But as Cadence declares later on, he “don’t make tracks, I make anthems,” and with body-popping jams like “On Me” and “Ghost” (featuring a delirious cameo from fellow Polaris winner Backxwash), he delivers his searing social commentary with equal doses of absurdist humor and shout-it-out catharsis.

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