(BC)  Hip Hop, Urban

The key to the art of hip-hop lyricism making a sentence turn on a dime into unexpected territory. Canada has produced no finer practitioner of this art than Shad, and anyone who has listened to him for any length of time will no doubt have a memorable collection of his lyrical gems. Often they’re humorous (“You can’t find a better man / in an Eddie Vedder jam” from the single “Rock It”), but they come in a more serious vein, too. From “At the Same Time” on his third album TSOL:

“I never laughed and cried at the same time / til I heard a church pray for the death of Obama / and wondered if they knew they share that prayer with Osama / Blasphemy and karma / the comedy in the drama / I never laughed and cried at the same time / til I imagined they were suddenly aware of it / and wondered who’s the heretic / and is the true terrorist American or Arabic.”

It’s this calibre of flow – delivered with impeccable skill and timing over mellow, jazzy samples that show a flair for subtle musicality – that has made Shad one of the Great White North’s most widely-recognized hip-hop exports. The fact that he is that hip-hop rarity, a rapper who also plays guitar; the fact that he holds a master’s degree and is bilingual in English and French – all this may create a sense of the sharp, smart and multi-faceted music he creates. Manifesting a frictionless aesthetic that’s strangely reminiscent of the early-Nineties pioneers of British rap music, Shad’s alternately entrancing, relaxing and thought-provoking style is not to be missed.


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