Last seen in July opening for Liars at the Great American Music Hall, Polaris Prize-nominated Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon is back once again in San Francisco, this time headlining his own tour in support of 2012’s Hope in Dirty City LP.

The dynamic new album combines influences from EDM, funk, and old school hip hop to create a live show that feels more authentic and raw than your typical overzealous rapper. If you’re a hip hop fan, there’s really no reason to miss this show. Plus, Dirty Ghosts will open, fresh off a big set at Treasure Island (read our recent interview with that group here).

We caught up via email with the man behind Cadence Weapon, Mr. Rollie Pemberton, to discuss touring with rock bands, the Canadian hip hop scene, and what is like to be the poet laureate of Edmonton.

So far I’ve seen you on tour opening for two rock bands: Japandroids and Liars. How did those tours come about?

Both bands asked me to come along with them. As it turns out, they’re all really into rap. Brian from Japandroids actually has a pretty complete working knowledge of ‘90s rap. Before all the Liars shows, they’d be playing like Biggie and stuff backstage so I felt pretty at home right away.

Do you find yourself more comfortable touring with rock bands rather than rap groups?

I’m just open minded about how who I play with, I’m down for whatever. My live performance seems to appeal to both people who don’t usually like rap as well as people who are rap purists. Our show has this fast paced mix show element to it, just lots of sounds and songs and ideas, it’s hype and has an unpredictable vibe to it but there are lots of planned elements and routines too.

Onstage you always strike me as very confident, funny and easy-going. But Hope In Dirt City isn’t exactly the happiest album. How do you approach this dynamic in your live show?

This is the duality of who I am. I have a very active internal dialogue that informs my music and writing but I’m a pretty outgoing person in my everyday life. What people don’t know is that I’m usually deconstructing the social dynamics of the world, even when I’m getting drunk with the homies. I want people to be aware of the dark corners of reality but I want them to feel like they can move beyond them and just enjoy beats and rhymes. That’s what I want to provide with my show: an escape.

What are you listening to these days? Favorite rappers?

The Kendrick Lamar album is a masterpiece. It’s the best rap album in like a decade. I like Meek Mill. I’m into a lot progressive R&B artists, guys like Jeremiah, Ty Dolla $ign and Miguel. I’ve been listening to the new Tame Impala album a lot. I’m really into the “My Type Of Party” remix by Dom Kennedy, Tyga and Juicy J.

I read you finished up a two-year term in 2011 as poet laureate for Edmonton, Alberta. What’s it like being a poet laureate?

It’s pretty unique. I had an opportunity to represent my city as an ambassador of the arts and for that, I’m very thankful. It was a great chance to think about writing lyrics in a different context.

How do you think the Canadian rap scene has changed since you started making music? Any more of a scene in Montreal or Edmonton today?

It seems like things are getting more and more experimental. People are more willing to take chances and be creative sonically. Guys like Drake have legitimized Canadian rap in the eyes of Americans. I think different parts of Canada are representing nationally. Rap has become much bigger over the past decade and I feel it will continue to blow up.

Anything else you might want to add about the tour or Hope In Dirt City?

I’m thrilled to be touring this album across North America and sharing this music and our performance with so many people. The Japandroids and Liars shows were both great but the show I have been building with DJ Co-op is much hyper and more hip-hop. I’m stoked!

Cadence Weapon, Dirty Ghosts, Nate the Great
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
October 29, 2012
9:30 pm, $8.00

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