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Wednesday, Nov 17 2010 | 19:31 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

After high-school Shad put his nose to the grindstone and wrote his first songs while studying business at Wilfrid Laurier University where he later graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. Sprung from his dorm-room and financed by the winnings from a radio song-writing contest, Shad’s first record “When This Is Over” was released in July 2005, and was characterized by overt introspection and social awareness. An unadulterated glimpse of young-adulthood, the self-made album bore promise of even greater accomplishments.

When 2007’s “The Old Prince” was released on Black Box Recordings, critics immediately incorporated Shad into the dialogue among the most well-regarded MCs in North America. The Juno Awards, the most prestigious honor in Canadian music, nominated the album as Rap Recording of The Year. “The Old Prince” was also named an official contender for the cutting edge Polaris Music Prize that year.

The initial singles from his latest offering “TSOL” are a testament to his calculated reproach that traverses soulful arrangements with the deft awareness of the rap gods before him. On “Rose Garden” he weighs the convenience of blissful ignorance against his burden of personal truth, stating, “The same things that float your boat can capsize it” and “I know too much and I owe too much to let it rest.” Later, on “Yaa I Get It” Shad seizes the opportunity to flip introspective syllables in the face of a riotous brass ensemble, rapping “So many sold their souls, my sole ambition is to hold solid, soul calm and bright as the solar system”, all the while nodding knowingly to an oft looked-over pocket of Canadian genius. Northern neighbors Brendan Canning and Lisa Lobsinger of Broken Social Scene add instrumental flourishes to “Lucky 1’s” and Canadian hip-hop legend Classified produces the proud “A Good Name”. Since its Canadian release “TSOL” has also been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, Shad’s second consecutive nomination.

It’s now clear that a failure to broaden his reach to the US would not only be a huge disservice to him as an artist, but to hip-hop culture as a whole. Unafraid to explore personal triumphs and pitfalls, Shad practices absolute transparency, giving all of himself to the listener by touching on issues that are universally relatable and resigning to that fact that he may not even have all of the answers. Simply put, “TSOL” is an illustration of one man’s attempt to understand the world in which we all live. Shad’s story speaks volumes on the worldly accomplishments of a borderless globe; his music is audible evidence of personal and socio-political progress. Listen, and let it be heard.

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