Rollie Pemberton is better known to all of us as Cadence Weapon, the hip hop artist originally from Edmonton who had been releasing music since the mid-‘00s, and who just won the Polaris Prize for his 2021 album, Parallel World. Now he adds the new title to his resume of author as he now delivers his memoir, Bedroom Rapper: Cadence Weapon on Hip-Hop, Resistance, and Surviving the Music Industry.

In a lot of ways, it feels like Cadence Weapon is just now hitting his stride as a musician, but the truth is that he’s been at this for a while. He started very young, and he’s gone through a lot of ups and downs and different phases of his career. This is to say that there is more than enough to fill a book on his life in the music industry. Pemberton has also worked off and on as a music writer, so he’s not going into this book completely green, and in general he has a nice conversational tone to his writing that makes this book very accessible. We cover just about everything in this book, form his early years learning about music from his uncle, but also the library and the early days of the internet, all the way through his struggles with his label and management to pay him to finally releasing the album he won the Polaris Prize for, Parallel World. Now, Pemberton didn’t write a perfect book out of the gate, and there are a few times spread throughout the book when he’ll state musical opinions as facts, which feel like they should have been caught and flagged by an editor, such as when he declaratively states that no one talks about Music For the Advancement of Hip Hop any more. Maybe no one in his circle cares anymore, but that album means something to anticon.’s devoted fanbase. It’s a small thing, but it happens periodically throughout the book. More importantly, there are also a couple of chapters where Pemberton starts to give crash course musical history lessons to catch you up to speed with what he was doing, but these sections feel messy and unformed. We either needed a lot more to be researched thoroughly and mapped out more clearly, or we could have just skipped over these sections and gotten back to Pemberton’s personal narrative. That’s because Pemberton’s personal narrative is where the book shines, whether he’s talking about life on the road, learning about the business side of the industry on the fly, or his creative development over the years and the different phases he went through. These are the insights that let you feel like you’re really getting to know the person behind the Cadence Weapon name, and you begin to root for him to finally get his career on track, making the music he wants to and getting his money where it needs to be.

Bedroom Rapper has its flaws, but it’s still really solid and a must read for anyone invested in the world of independent hip hop. His insights to life on the road and his struggles to square things up with management and label are really valuable stories, and he tells them well.