London hip-hopper Shad K is a rising star

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Shad K

MY NAMETAG WON’T STICK TO MY SHIRT, GUYS. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, JUST HOLD ONTO IT LIKE THIS? DOESN’T ANYONE HAVE SOME TAPE OR SOMETHING? Local hip-hop emcee Shad K plays Rum Runners this Friday.

Success has been a welcome surprise for rising London emcee Shadrach Kabango. Since releasing his 2005 debut album, When This Is Over, Kabango, better known as Shad K, has performed with esteemed hip-hoppers like Common and Lupe Fiasco.

“Opening for Common was surreal " he’s been one of my favourite artists for years,” Shad K says. “It was an amazing opportunity just to [perform with Common].”

When This is Over’s thoughtful lyrics and laid-back style have earned Shad K respect from a variety of listeners.

“When I finished [the album], I didn’t think it would have as broad an appeal,” he says. “I thought it was really ‘niche.’”

Unlike many rappers, Shad K avoids dirty lyrics and flashiness and instead engages listeners with humourous, relatable rhymes.

“[My lyrics] are not necessarily autobiographical, but they come from a real place,” he says.

Shad K’s affinity for poetry runs in the family; his mother, a Rwandan poet, is featured on “I’ll Never Understand.” Shad K says it’s the album’s most meaningful song.

He also distinguishes himself from most rappers by jamming on his acoustic guitar while rhyming about social issues. Several emerging Canadian rappers are following in his footsteps by experimenting with unique ways to express themselves.

“Canadian hip-hop is just starting to break out on its own and starting to create its own style that’s smart, original and down to Earth,” Shad K says.

Winning a talent competition held by Kitchener-Waterloo’s 91.5 FM in 2004 exploded Shad K’s career, making him an integral part of London’s music scene.

Shad feels many London artists are very talented, but he says the city’s hip-hop scene isn’t as unified as bigger cities like Toronto’s.

Shad K emphasizes the importance of promoting London artists. His involvement with local initiatives like Londonhiphop.net lets fans and artists connect with each other and learn about new talent and upcoming shows.

He says initiatives like Londonhiphop.net are “a simple but important resource” for strengthening London’s hip-hop scene.

Shad K is working on new tracks while juggling shows and promoting his previous album, though he hopes to release another soon.

“I’ll be back on the grind again, hopefully on a bit bigger level,” he says.

Despite his rising popularity, Shad K says his “bottom line” hasn’t changed.

“Making music is something that I enjoy,” he says. “It’s fun, creative and challenging.”

Shad K performs at Rum Runners tonight. Tickets are $10. Doors are at 9 p.m.

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