A couple of years ago for Canadian Music Week, I attended the Indie Awards at the Royal York Hotel. I went specifically to see Janelle Monae, but while I was there I caught performances by two Canadian artists I had never heard of. I became a fan of Hannah Georgas after seeing her on stage and was drawn to hip-hop artist Shad. This young guy was rapping so lyrically and poetically on top of old school beats. I was impressed. There was so much confidence, which came across as swagger, yet it was humble. Born in Kenya and raised in London, Ontario, at only 31 years-old it seems like Shad has a lot of life experience. Full of reflection personally and on the world around us, his lyrics have more substance than the average rapper.
This past October, Shad’s fourth studio album, Flying Colours, was released on Black Box Recordings. With collaborations with fellow Canadians k-OS, Lights, Lisa Lobsinger, Kamau, Saukrates and Eternia, this album is full of poetry delivered with rap, singing and spoken word. It really is a work of art. Shad just began a headlining tour with fellow Canadians We Are The City, including a few American dates. Considering he played Toronto earlier last month, there are a few Ontario dates left for November as well as a show at the Danforth Music Hall on January 31st. (For tour dates, click here.)
If you’ve never listened to Shad before but have a love or appreciation for hip hop, then Flying Colours is something you should pick up for your collection. Winning a Juno for Rap Recording of the year in 2011 and beating out Drake, Shad is continuing to heighten the buzz for Canadian hip-hop. This is an artist you definitely want to have on your radar.