HHAP Episode 46: Rwandan-Canadian MC, Shad, on the Evolution of Hip Hop

Shad is a Kenyan born, Rwandan hip hop artist, who hails from in London, Ontario, in Canada. With an eclectic sound, that blends musical influences, and a unique lyrical style, Shad made a name for himself in the Canadian hip hop scene, winning a Juno in 2010 for his 3rd album, TSOL. In addition to being an MC, Shad also hosted three seasons of the hip hop documentary series, Hip Hop Evolution, which can be seen on HBO Canada and Netflix. The series delves into the history, and evolution, of hip hop culture in the United States. In this interview we talk about Shad’s experience growing up as a Rwandan-Canadian hip hop head and MC. He talks about his career, beginning with his 1st album When This is Over (2005), to his more recent projects. He talks about the different cultural landscapes in Canada, which ultimately influences Canadian hip hop. Shad also talks about the influence of hip hop artists like Drake and K’naan on the international reach of Canadian hip hop. Both very different artists, but both have influenced the visibility of hip hop in Canada in different ways.

Shad also talks about hosting Hip Hop Evolution, the artists he’s interviewed, and some of the insight into hip hop culture that he gained in working on that project. He also talks about his approach to music, as well as the influences of his background and experiences in his music.

The intro song in the podcast is “FamJam”, the closing songs are “Magic” and “The Fool Part 2 from his most recent album, A Short Story About A War.

Shad is on social media at

HHAP Episode 36: Blitz the Ambassador on His Art, Purpose, & Representation

It’s been 15 years since Blitz the Ambassador released his first record, Soul Rebel. Since then he has gone on to produce 7 additional albums, start his own independent label (Embassy MVMT), produce 2 short films, and produced the feature film The Burial of Kojo, which was released on Netflix on the 31st of March, with Ava DuVernay and ARRAY.

This interview took place after he screened his film at the New African Film Festival this past March in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was great to sit down again with Blitz, 12 years after I first interviewed him for allAfrica.com in May 2007. Then, he was among the first generation of African MCs making their presence known on the underground scene in the US. In that interview we spoke about how Pan African his music was, and how lyrically, he blended elements of African and the Diaspora. His music has evolved into a showcase of African and Diaspora influences, including collaborations with artists from across Africa and the Diaspora.

In this interview we again spoke about the Pan African perspectives and sounds that continue to be present in his music. Blitz attributes much of his outlook to his upbringing, the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah’s ideologies, and his experiences in the Pan African Studies Department at Kent State University.

Blitz the Ambassador also talks about his experiences with the entertainment industry in the U.S., and how he has managed to maintain creative control over his music and film projects. In this sense, Blitz the Ambassador is vigilant about the integrity of his work, acknowledging the importance of representation, and of creating your own narratives.

The two songs featured in the episode, “Hello Africa” and “Internationally Known”, as well as all of Blitz the Ambassador’s music, can be purchased here: https://blitzambassador.bandcamp.com

Blitz on social media 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlitzAmbassador/
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/blitzambassador/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlitzAmbassador