Cadence Weapon Wins 2021 Polaris Music Prize in Canada

Photo credit: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Cadence Weapon

Cadence Weapon’s fifth studio album Parallel World was announced as the winner of the 2021 Polaris Music Prize on Monday (Sept. 27). The prize is awarded to the “best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales or record label,” according to the organization.

Cadence Weapon, a Canadian-American rapper (real name Roland "Rollie" Pemberton), hails from Edmonton, Alberta. His win was announced during an event that was streamed live from CBC Toronto’s Studio 211.

While this is a major arts award in Canada, Cadence Weapon should not expect a congratulatory phone call from Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Cadence Weapon blasted Trudeau in his acceptance speech. "I also just want to take this time to mention that Justin Trudeau has worn Blackface so many times he can’t even remember how many times, and he was just given a third term," he said. "That’s exactly why I need to be making rap records that are political, that are about these subjects because that’s still a fact today."


This is the 16th year of the Polaris Prize, which is presented by CBC Music. Past winners include Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs (2011) which also won a Grammy as album of the year, and three albums by acts that subsequently went on to collect Grammy nominations – Caribou (2008), Kaytranada (2016) and Lido Pimienta (2017).

Other past winners of note include four-time Grammy nominee Feist (2012) and Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015), a 1982 Oscar winner for co-writing “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman.

The nine other albums on the 2021 short list were Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Theory of Ice, DijahSB’s Head Above The Waters, Dominique Fils-Aimé’s Three Little Words, Mustafa’s When Smoke Rises, The OBGMs’ The Ends, Klô Pelgag’s Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs, TOBi’s Elements Vol. 1, The Weather Station’s Ignorance and Zoon’s Bleached Wavves.

The short list was announced on July 15, culled from a long list of 40 contenders which was announced on June 15. Albums eligible for 2021 Polaris Music Prize consideration must have been released between May 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021.