Rapper Cadence Weapon on his favourite reads

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

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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