Deeply Indebted

The well known rapper SHAD is another Kenyan artist who has defied the odds. SHAD was born in Kenya in 1982 but was raised in London, Ontario. His parents moved their family to Canada when he was just a year old. His parents were Rwandan so he grew up knowing a lot about his culture. The stories that his parents told him about their life and hardships in Rwanda always stuck with him. In an interview SHAD said “My mother continuously instilled in me a sense that my life, my presence, and my personal integrity were all rooted in a history—a history of Rwandan people who were (and are) full of goodness, complexity, dignity and fortitude.”

At 12 years old is when SHAD began to embrace his culture even more. During this time the Rwandan genocide became very prevalent in Canadian society. His parents had him and his sister partake in various marches and protests. He visited Rwanda for the first time when he was 16 years. When he got there he said he felt at home. It was exciting for him to see the landscape and people who looked just like him. After experiencing Rwanda and his family that lived there he began to identify himself an African-Canadian. He feels that his home is not just Canadaor Rwanda, but it is the whole world.

SHAD still lives in Canada and has continued his music career there. He signed to Black Box Records in 2005. His success even expanded to the point where he beat Drake, a worldwide famous rapper from Canada, in the Juno Awards. In 2015 he became the radio host at CBC Radio One. SHAD made a four-part documentary series called Hip Hop Evolution. In this documentary interview various rap artists to understand the origin of their music. This was shown on HBO Canada and eventually on Netflix.

Regardless of where he was raised and lives now he still embraces his culture. He pays attention to the things that occur in Rwanda. In his song “I’ll Never Understand” he speaks about the Rwandan genocide. This song also includes poetry by his mother. His music speaks about Canada and Africa. SHAD is deeply indebted to both of his homes.

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