“Shad” the Storyteller

“Shad” the Storyteller
“Shad” the Storyteller

Poignant storytelling and vulnerability are two of the core building blocks of hip hop. In my opinion, a tasteful incorporation of both factors lay the groundwork for honest, healing conversations across the diaspora. Not only this, but they also make for raw, honest lyrics that strike a nerve whenever they are heard. It is this wicked ability to story tell that makes songs compelling, my personal favorite examples ranging from 2pac’s The Hate U Give Little Infants F*s Everybody to Jay Z’s 4:44 to J. Cole’s Kevin’s Heart. Knowing this, Shadrach Cabango, or Shad the Storyteller, takes into account each of his experiences to create articulate pieces that serve as the catalysts for social commentary and criticism. Shad is a Rwandan and Kenyan hip-hop artist who is notorious for creating music that transcends borders. The ideas are not only familiar to Africa, but to the world as a whole. He does not shy away from discussing everything from politics, to gender and race, to environmental conservation.  His song Storm, released in October of 2021, is a moving peek into the crushing realities of the struggles of having poor mental health. The lyrics are quite repetitive, with Shad repeating the line “I can’t stand the storm” with an increasingly desperate tone as the song progresses. Shad also makes several biblical allusions throughout the song “Oh Lord have mercy on me I can’t stand and my knees are so weak I’ve been going for days and weeks I just can’t handle no more on me” to convey the true severity of the situation he’s in. Upon listening to this song for the first time, I was immediately surprised by its tone/mood. Typically, hip hop artists use their music to gas themselves. They speak highly of themselves and their possessions. Very rarely do we get a glimpse into the true emotional spectrum that comes along with being an artist in such a public and exposing way. Surprisingly, Shad chooses to do the complete opposite. He does not shy away from the harsh truths of his reality earning him his worthy title of Storyteller.

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