The 2021 Polaris Music Prize has been won by Cadence Weapon for the album Parallel World.
The Prize, which was presented by CBC Music, goes to the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit regardless of genre, sales history or label affiliation. The 16th edition of the Prize was determined by a Grand Jury of 11 music media professionals drawn from the greater Polaris jury pool of 199 writers, editors, broadcasters, DJs and personalities from across the country.
“If I won this, I wanted to announce that next year I’ll be using some of my resources to organize some voter registration events around the Toronto municipal election, as well as the Ontario provincial election because we need some changes to our leadership and we need to make things more equitable for people in this city to be able to vote. 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. 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,” said Cadence Weapon in his acceptance speech.
“Finally, this goes out to everybody in Edmonton and Alberta! I’m from Edmonton, 780, we’ve never been here before. I want to show everybody, all the young artists listening right now, and watching this, you don’t have to be from Toronto. Your experience is valuable. Your art matters. Coming from Edmonton, I don’t want you to forget that. The prairies got something to say. E-town.”
Cadence Weapon’s first Polaris Music Prize victory included a $50,000 monetary reward with the nine other Short List nominees each received $3,000 courtesy of Slaight Music. Additionally, Play MPE awarded Cadence Weapon with a global music promotion distribution package for one release (single or album) worth up to $3,025 CAD. Play MPE will also gift all nine remaining Short List artists with distribution packages worth up to $1,000 CAD each.
The 2021 Polaris Short List (in no particular order) included:
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson – Theory of Ice
Cadence Weapon – Parallel World
DijahSB – Head Above The Waters
Dominique Fils-Aimé – Three Little Words
Mustafa – When Smoke Rises
The OBGMs – The Ends
Klô Pelgag – Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs
TOBi – Elements Vol. 1
The Weather Station – Ignorance
Zoon – Bleached Wavves
Due to the continued uncertainty around returns to public gatherings, Polaris chose not to host a winner Gala event, instead CBC Toronto’s Studio 211 hosted the Polaris Music Prize Winner Celebration streaming event where by Polaris 2020 winner Backxwash revealed Cadence Weapon as the 2021 Winner. Hosted by CBC Music’s Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe, the Polaris Winner Celebration can be rewatched at CBCMusic.ca/Polaris.