Rapper Cadence Weapon on his favourite reads

One of Toronto's most creative artists tells us which books he can't put down


Published:

Cadence Weapon was Poet Laureate for the City of Edmonton

What reading material is on your nightstand?
How Music Works, by David Byrne; Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, by Gay Talese; and an issue of the New York Times Magazine about the future of autonomous cars.

What’s the last great book you read?
The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. A gripping tale of redemption by one of my favourite musicians.

Tell me the most interesting thing you learned from a recent book.
I learned that Nick Zinner, Karen O and Suroosh Alvi all worked at Triple 5 Soul before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vice existed from Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011 by Lizzy Goldman. 

What’s the best book about music you’ve ever read?
Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 by Tim Lawrence. It’s the definitive book about dance music’s halcyon days. I grew up listening to my dad play disco and boogie music on the radio and around the house, so I was already familiar with it, but this book showed me that the cultural background of a music scene is just as important as the music itself. 

What current writer inspires you?
Ta-Nehisi Coates is my favourite contemporary writer. He delves into topics in such a granular way, and he finds a way to articulate ideas that I’ve thought but didn’t know how to verbalize myself.

What kinds of books do you find most enjoyable?
I love biographies and oral histories, particularly about music scenes and musicians. I love seeing the twists and turns that help mould people’s careers and legacies. I find them very instructive and inspiring.

What one book do you think all Canadians should read?
Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography by Jimmy McDonough. It gives so much more insight and context to the music and life of a Canadian icon. It also has a compelling self-referential aspect to it as we follow the author chasing Young around for decades while trying to make this book.

Name three writers you would like to have a drink with at the pub?
Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin.

Toronto-based rapper Cadence Weapon, a.k.a. Roland Pemberton, has a new self-titled album scheduled for release on Jan. 19. 

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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