Vodka and candy caught Rollie Pemberton's eye when he was invited to the inaugural Polaris Music Prize gala in 2006 after being short-listed for the award.
Fifteen years later, a lot has changed for the rapper, also known as Cadence Weapon. For starters, he won the award, his third time short-listed, for his album Parallel World.
This year's event was virtual because of the pandemic, so it was takeout sushi rather than liquor and sweets sustaining him through the night.
One of the biggest changes came when he recently changed representation to Ottawa-based Kelp Management, headed by Jon Bartlett.
"Jon is a really great guy and I've known him, even before he was managing artists like back when he was with the label," Pemberton told Alan Neal, host of CBC Radio's All In A Day, on Monday before he received the award.
"I really can feel his passion for music. He's a true music lover."
Finding a fit
Bartlett said he had been a fan of Cadence Weapon and they talked in the spring before he spent the summer "digging in," trying to figure out where he could fit in to the career of the rapper, writer, producer and poet.
The main thing, Bartlett said, is whether or not he thinks he can get an artist to new heights, and create sustainable career growth.
I love everything he's done with his other artists that he works with. — Rollie Pemberton
He was also drawn by the breadth of work Pemberton is engaged in: features, co-writing and writing a book.
"I mean there's no question about how amazing Rollie is, and all the things he has going on. And that's part of what really sold me this time, too," said Bartlett.
Bartlett said he also thought Kelp's focus extending beyond Canada's borders helped bring the pair together.
"It's really about building out the team internationally, in Europe and the U.S., and trying to grow in other places and make it sustainable."
Pemberton said he loves his new rep's temperament, calling him "super chill."
"I love everything he's done with his other artists that he works with," said Pemberton, who also asked other artists about Barlett and found only positive reviews.
"They were like, 'Oh man I love Jon.'"
Pemberton said he needed management that could help keep him on track.
"I have lots of ideas and I'm like a very creative person, but getting these projects executed, and helping me with, you know, the infrastructure of this stuff and helping me stay organized, as I'm getting progressively busier and busier, that is incredibly helpful," he said.
"And I believe Jon can do that."
Listen to Cadence Weapon's Polaris Music Prize winning album below: