Shad rates Canadian rap peers Drake, K’naan and k-os [Article]
London, ON – In Canada, hip-hop has historically taken a backseat to internationally acclaimed indie rock, quirky pop and earnest folk. But despite a lack of radio, venue and mainstream media support, young Canadian MCs are currently stretching boundaries — and crossing borders — to produce urban music as diverse as the country’s landscape.
“The artists breaking out of Canada are all so varied, and we have developed a reputation for having a range of voices,” Vancouver-based rapper Shad tells Spinner. “You have to be really dope, or you’re not even getting a look here, let alone in the rest of the world.”
Critics applaud Shad as a torchbearer for the golden era of hip-hop. With his Polaris shortlisted third disc, ‘TSOL,’ now available in the US via Black Box Recordings/Decon, and an American tour finally on his resume, the rapper is poised to break on an international level. So we thought we’d ask Shad to weigh in on Canadian hip-hop artists already turning heads around the world.
With a Grammy-nomination under his belt and endorsements by the likes of Jay-Z, Drake is among the most promising young voices in urban music. Shad says the rapper’s ability to carry a tune sets him above the crowd: “There are a lot of rappers that try their hands at singing, but it’s not always effective. He has a knack for a turn of phrase and he can definitely spin some memorable one liners, but he’s also got a great sense of melody.”
When Coca Cola co-opted his tune ‘Wavin’ Flag’ as part of a promotion for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Somalian-Canadian rapper K’naan became hip-hop’s ambassador to the world. Shad, who was born in Kenya but raised in Canada, credits the rapper for informing his sound with a global perspective.
“He’s a voice for the people on a global scale, and I love the way he uses global rhythms to make music that sounds like nothing else happening in hip-hop. I think what he does is so important,” he says.
A rare artist that appeals to hardcore hip-hop and indie rock fans alike, k-os is already a crossover success story in Canada and is now making inroads in the US. Shad applauds his ability to defy genre and rates the multi-talented musician as a major inspiration.
“He’s one of the best artists in the world, period. The guy can do old-school b-boy tracks over a drum break, write catchy pop songs, drop a pop-rock reggae track like the Police, then pick up an acoustic guitar and pull off a Bob Dylan-style folk song. Most times, when someone tries to do all those different things it turns out to be the worst thing ever, but somehow he pulls it off.”
The recent success of Drake, K’naan, and k-os is opening doors for Shad and his peers, and for once, that ‘Canadian’ antecedent to hip-hop might be more boon than burden.
“It feels like an exciting time, and I have already achieved things that I didn’t even imagine possible,” Shad says. “It seems that people no longer care if an artist is from the UK, Somalia, Canada, or wherever; if it’s dope, it’s dope.”
By: Lonny Knapp for Spinner.ca
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