Reviews:: Shad - TSOL

I am a fan of the music made by one Shadrach Kabango, otherwise known as Shad K. or just Shad. I’m certainly not alone in this, as pretty much anyone who’s heard the awesome The Old Prince or seen his Fresh Prince-esque vid for the title track of that album likely feels the same. However, after a few times through his new album TSOL, I can pinpoint one of the things I like most about him: he absolutely excels at the perfect simplicity of hip hop. Intelligent & thoughtful lyrics, punch lines, witty wordplay, well-chosen beats, and contributions from an actual, honest-to-goodness DJ.


Sounds like a simple formula, but it’s not. Given Shad’s heritage, and his musical skills (guitar playing ability, etc.), it would be easy for him to make grandiose anthems that would guarantee him tons of airplay and huge buzz from outlets much, much larger than this here one. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with anthems - there’s always a place for them, no matter what genre you are shoehorning them into. But for me, really well done hip hop, in the Golden Age style, and with something engaging or intelligent to say, will always get me more excited than pretty much anything else you could offer me on the musical menu. But it says something about Shad’s talent & charisma that he makes such cerebral, true-school hip hop, yet still gets love and coverage from folks who normally don’t give hip hop, Canadian or otherwise, much of a sniff.


If you’re looking for TSOL’s poster-child, it might very well be Keep Shining, which finds Shad perfectly at home over a soul-heavy beat and paying tribute to women with “goals like Federov”, while also exhorting more girls to get involved with hip hop. It’s not your average topic for bravado-filled world of hip hop, but Shad sounds completely comfortable addressing it and constructs a completely enjoyable song around it. No surprise there though, as Shad is a thinking-man’s MC, and there are other examples of his contemplative side on this album.


Lucky 1′s uses a lush, string-filled beat as well as some help from BSS-ers Brendan Canning & Lisa Lobsinger on the hook to deliver a reminder to the many cynics & entitlement-addled kids & young adults that we should really remember to be grateful for what we have every now and again. My favorite track may very well be the Classified-produced A Good Name, which features Shad breaking down the history behind his name like a personal, 2010 version of You Must Learn.


But like any MC worth his weight in lens-less Cazals and MCM hats, Shad can certainly bring it on the braggadocios tip, and he shows it right from the get-go with the classic boom-bap & soul sound of Rose Garden, which is peppered with the kind of natural wit & punchlines (“Glen Beck better duck like foie gras”) that most MC’s wish they had. We Are the Ones (Reservoir Poetry) is a fun tag-team with T.O. MC/Producer Relic (which reminded me that Relic’s last album has been on my todo list for a criminally long time), while I’ve already described the big-beat backed Yaa I Get It as an “indie, Can-hop 99 Problems”, and Telephone shows that Shad’s lady-friends are often one his problems.


Not that I even watched a minute of the show, but I think it’s safe to say that TSOL is certainly going to be met with a much more enthusiastic response than the finale of its inverse namesake. Will that response include the awarding of coveted, one-word prizes like Juno and Polaris? I don’t need a Magic 8-Ball to tell me that a lot of signs are pointing towards yes in that regard. So go ahead and get TSOL for yourself, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

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MP3:: Shad - Yaa I Get It


VIDEO:: SHAD - Yaa I Get It



This entry was posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010 at 8:55 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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3 Responses to “Reviews:: Shad - TSOL”

Allan MacIntosh May 29th, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Shad is the best, and TSOL sure didn’t disappoint! Love the blog by the way.

chris l June 2nd, 2010 at 12:19 pm

it cant even be put into words how amazing this man is. forsure an underapreciated goat

bradley palko August 23rd, 2010 at 4:40 am

seriously, one of the best rappers alive. i don’t care what people say. all 3 of his records make my top 30 albums of all time :)

perfect review!

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