Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, his father was Teddy Pemberton, a pioneering hip hop DJ on CJSR-FM. He began rapping at 13, and following high school he briefly attended journalism school, dropping out soon afterward to concentrate on music. He released the underground mix tape Cadence Weapon is the Black Hand in 2005, and his full-length debut Breaking Kayfabe at the end of the year. Breaking Kayfabe has garnered strong reviews in Canadian, American and British media, and Cadence has toured extensively to support the disc, including concerts across Canada and three shows in Austin, Texas at the 2006 South by Southwest festival.
Cadence Weapon was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize which awards $20,000 for the Canadian album of the year. However, he lost to Final Fantasy’s He Poos Clouds. Coincidentally, the Toronto alternative newspaper Eye weekly‘s cover photograph the Thursday before the award was presented featured both Cadence Weapon and Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett adopting a mock confrontational pose. The accompanying article, in fact, revealed that Cadence and Pallett had become friends and both really admired each other’s records. Cadence and Pallett also performed together on the CBC Radio concert series Fuse in April of 2007.
On February 21, 2007, Pemberton announced that he signed an American record deal with Epitaph Records, a move that will give him greater exposure in the United States. As a part of his new deal, Breaking Kayfabe was released in the US on March 13, 2007. In the fall of 2007, Big Dada became Cadence Weapon’s representative label in Europe.
He also accompanied Final Fantasy on part of his 2007 tour.