One of the best writers in hip-hop, one of our favorite artists, and one of our best friends, the incomparable Shad, visited Sound Session to speak with J. Moore and I recently. We discussed a variety of topics, exploring what it’s like coming up in Canada making his style of music, winning the Rap Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) over his countryman Drake, and how he chooses to promote himself in the US market. He also spoke about his last album, Flying Colours, and his plans to take the follow up project in a new direction, before running through a lightning round of questions covering 90’s sit-coms, left handed basketball players, his favorite sneakers, and more.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Shad represents everything I love about hip-hop and I cosign literally every song/message he’s put out into the world. Very talented, very humble, and very intelligent, I wish more artists would follow in his footsteps.
These are the kinds of songs that simply put Shad on a level that few other artists can touch. Truly next level in his message and his delivery. Wow.
Words from the director, Justin Broadbent:
“The death of music is similar to the death of visual art. The online, numb, browsing experience has (naturally) started to effect the current state of art. We’ve become a Tumblr’d culture, over Googled, educated and bored in 4 seconds or shorter.
“I made a non-music video for Shad’s “Progress”. It’s a website. It’s a comment on the state of art and also maybe the only video that could attach to such an intensely accurate and poignant song for our generation. It is like the movie credits to now. Tumblr on.”
Shad’s lead single from his upcoming Flying Colours album. I mean…I don’t even have to say anything at this point. Dope beat from Skratch Bastid, smooth hook from Sox, and Shad does what Shad does. That second verse though. Damn.
Similar to my favorite “freestyle” video of all time, Shad went in on the “Grammy Family” beat for about 7 minutes and absolutely murdered it. So many bars, so much knowledge. Best writer in the game, imo. Peep the lyrics here.
The homey, and still my vote for the best writer in the game, Shad, just dropped a new EP with Skratch Bastid (one of the dopest DJ’s in the world, if you’re sleeping). Download the quickstrike right here:
The Spring Up is the result of fortunate timing, grapefruit Perrier, a shared high school obsession with Outkast’s Aquemeni, and a couple of sessions at Skratch Bastid’s Toronto studio this April. The 5 track collection marks a moment in time for the pair; embodying the spirit of Spring and also serving as a sort of prelude to Shad’s upcoming full-length, to which Skratch Bastid also contributes. The collection features a production assist from DJ Jazzy Jeff, and a turn on the mic from compatriot Cadence Weapon.
Quick strike EP from the homey Shad as he celebrates his birthday. 5 tracks, all sampling classic songs from his childhood. Along with Lupe, SK is my favorite writer in the game. Shout to my guys G and T-Lo as well. Download this immediately!
Ah yes, the list that generated enough tweets in the Seattle hip-hop community to trend the other day has reached its conclusion with the release of the #1 video above. For those unaware, D-Money of Juice Radio put together this project inspired by the MTV “Hottest MC” debate where he asked several media figures in the Seattle/Tacoma area to submit lists of their top 15 “freshest MC’s.” The panel was comprised of myself, Casey Carter, Sara from Fresh N Def, Sermon from Sermon’s Domain, DJ SupaSam, DJ Swervewon, Josh Rizeberg, and DJ Iceman. A final slot was reserved for fan votes collected on Juice Radio’s website and you can view the entire list and the accompanying videos here.
We were told to construct the list using specific criteria focusing on solo MC’s (not groups or singers) and their accomplishments within the past year. The various categories we were instructed to key on ranged from sales/downloads to radio play, from concert draws to media recognition, and every variable you can think of in between. In the end, even with the criteria, the idea was to make picks based on who we felt were the overall “freshest” in the NW, which is obviously subjective to each individual. Not surprisingly, we had fairly different lists, and also not surprisingly, it was revealed during the course of our discussion that some of the panel did not follow the criteria or fully understand it. What’s a hip-hop list without some controversy from the very start (and the inability to do the most basic tasks correctly)?
The format allowed for the panel to bump up artists if we were convinced during our discussion that they had been voted to an incorrect slot. Personally, I would have preferred the panel to simply fill out their lists accurately from the jump and then we could stick with where someone was voted. If you’re deemed knowledgeable enough to be on the panel, you should be able to construct a good list and defend your picks without getting swayed during the discussion to vote someone up or down. That said, when Macklemore was revealed as #3 on the list, I was happy we’d have a chance to vote him to his correct position at #1 because it’s clear that with the criteria we were told to use, nobody has excelled more than him in the past year. It’s not even debatable in my opinion.
I was disappointed that the list didn’t unanimously have him at #1 to begin with, but I can’t speak for the selections of any other panel member. All I know is that only 6 of the 15 artists I selected made the final list (though they only revealed the top 10, so I suppose 5 were never going to make it). Of those, I think the most startling omissions were Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown) and Ish (aka Palaceer Lazaro of Shabazz Palaces). To conclude a “Freshest In The NW” list without two of our most successful and influential artists, who continue to release great music to widespread critical and consumer acclaim, seems like a travesty.
Regardless, it seems the list accomplished what it set out to do, which was to generate conversation about all the talent we have in the Northwest. Were there things I would do differently if this were my project? Absolutely, starting with the fact that I would never do it to begin with. However, this is Juice Radio’s creation and I enjoyed giving my two cents in the discussion.
That said, I’m troubled by the reactions of many people, mainly because they seem to be attacking the idea that this is some sort of definitive list. Of course it’s NOT a definitive list! I thought that would have been common sense, but yet again, for the 24823948239423424th time in my life, I’ve overestimated the intelligence and comprehension levels of the general public (though if I continue to do that, it’s really more my fault than theirs). Individual lists are fine, but it’s the idea that combining a group of lists, from anyone, somehow transforms these individual opinions to fact that is completely absurd. I assumed everyone would understand that, but I was wrong.
I hope you enjoyed the debate and the videos, but I’d advise you do yourself a favor and don’t take it too seriously. Then again, that’s also just my opinion…
Bronson was one of the few artists at SXSW that I hadn’t seen perform before so I was really excited to see him rock. Aside from being a dope MC, this dude is completely hilarious on and off stage. You can get a sample of that in this video with Nardwuar.
I’ve been meaning to post this up for a bit, but as usual, better late than never. Besides is a collection of Shad’s recent guest appearances and remixes, all seamlessly blended by the one and only DJ T-Lo. The best writer in the game, IMO.