“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
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
Shad the Storyteller
Representation and roots are the foundation for hip hop. Without representation, hip hop would arguably not exist. Further, with culture, comes language. So when Shadrach Kabango, also known as “Shad,” was born in the early 1980s in Kenya, representation too played an integral part not only in his upbringing as a Canadian citizen, but also as a award
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.
Diaspora based artists like K’Naan, Blitz the Ambassador, M3nsa, Wale, and French Montana, and Tabi Bonney have been covered heavily in this blog. There are several other first and second generation African MCs around the world who have not been covered as much in this blog. As students in the Hip Hop and Social Change