When Rollie Pemberton was a kid growing up in the late 1980s and 1990s, he’d imagine his father in some spaceship-like place when he’d hear his voice on the Canadian airwaves in his hometown of Edmonton. Rollie’s dad Teddy was a radio pioneer of sorts in the Albertan province. He went by T.E.D.D.Y. on his program The Black Experience in Sound, and brought to Alberta a wide-range of African-American and black music – including the emerging hip hop and rap that was barely out of the underground in the States.
Teddy wouldn’t have known it at the time, but his son would become someone Teddy might have played on his program, had he lived long enough. Teddy Pemberton passed away before his son Rollie, under the moniker Cadence Weapon, became a bit of a hometown hero in hip-hop and poetry.
We talk to Rollie about his life and rhymes, about his stint as a writer at Pitchfork, and about how this young man – once so shy about his poetry that he had to work up the nerve to show it to his father – went from college dropout to both the poet laureate of his hometown, and a rising star in the world of hip-hop.