Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Many different forms of hip-hop were becoming exposed nearly two decades ago.  You hear about early east coast hip-hop and you think of A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, or Biggie.  West coast saw 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, and N.W.A., while Outkast, UGK, and Goodie Mob are largely responsible for the southern hip-hop movement.  Yet if you were to approach someone and ask them to name a Canadian hip-hop crew from the early '90s, chances are you'll be received with a blank face.

That's because Canadian hip-hop is relatively new, and it's getting harder and harder to ignore it with the emergence of Drake, K'naan, and Classified.  Another one thrown in there is Shad, who hails from London, Ontario.  Not many people know about Shad, but that's because his songs don't get much radio play.  One reason is because he doesn't brag how many chicks he can get, how many drugs he can put into his body, or how heavy the bling around his neck is.  Instead he sings on politically conscious issues he cares about, kickin' back and relaxing, or women that actually matter to him.  He is able to do all this while exerting a smooth confidence about his talents, which isn't overdone.  Also, his beats aren't epically synthed out with massive bass thumps.  Most of his songs are driven by acoustic guitar loops and a drum set, it nearly sounds like a different genre, perhaps "acoustic-rap"?  This is especially evident in his 2005 album When This Is Over.

Don't let this turn you off from Shad though, he is an immensely creative and talented rapper.  Unfortunately, it's not the type of rap you can throw on at something like a frat party.  Instead, to me it sounds like Ben Harper's acoustic strumming with some rap over it, great for outdoor bummin' and casual lounging.  Shad not only shows creativity through his music, but also his music videos.  On his most recent album TSOL, released May 25th of this year in Canada, Shad draws huge inspiration from the Pharcyde and their music video "Drop" (which is also a kick-ass song) for his video Rose Garden, which is not only a fantastic song, but a pretty sweet music video.  You can see the Pharcyde shout out at the end of the video:

Shad also has some excellent tracks on his 2005 album When This Is Over, on these you can definitely hear the acoustic elements where he seems influenced by 1991's Nice & Smooth.  It's cool to see the creativity within the tracks and the unique nature of his persona.  He's not out to show off or pretend, but instead is down to earth and you get the true feel for who he is as a person, making it easy to relate to him.  In the end, he just seems like the kind of guy you'd wanna chill with.  Below are "I Get Down" and "Rock to It" from When This Is Over.  If you like what you hear, there are some additional downloads available here.

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