au·then·tic: of undisputed origin; genuine.
Shadrach Kabango’s character is the apotheosis of authentic, and he takes as genuine of an approach to hip-hop that you will ever encounter from an MC. Rwandan born, and raised in Ontario, Canada, Shad who is currently 31 years of age, has been blessing microphones for seventeen years now. After winning a local radio talent competition (and some prize money) in 2004, he then self-financed his first studio album, When This Is Over, in 2005. Nine years, three albums and a few mixtapes later, the rest has been history in the making.
I got turned on to Shad back in 2007 by one of my best friends, who interestingly enough hails from Rwanda himself. He tossed me a copy of Shad’s recent album from that year, The Old Prince, which eventually ended up being nominated for the 2008 Polaris and Juno awards, that recognize the best albums in Canada, regardless of genre and simply based on artistic and poetic significance. Within a month of indulging in and dissecting that album and its content, I knew that in so many facets, it would be one of the most important albums I will have ever listened to.
Shadrach, who clearly takes immense pride in his music, also has an uncanny ability to insert humor and sports references into his lyrics. Throughout his discography you will find tracks that touch on everything from the lighter subjects of an obscure NBA reference and having to live at home with his parents, to the average human’s everyday struggles of falling in or out of love, weighing fading friendships or being confused about a current path in life. Even touching on some of the most sobering of subjects such as poverty, failing education systems and Rwandan genocide. But with the wide realm of topics that Shad dives into, there is always one constant ending theme: Hope.
Whatever the subject may be that he’s assessing, his words always come back to the idea of the listener taking an insightful look inside themselves to become the best individual they can be. His music reassures you that there is always something better in store for you, as long as you have the heart and will to pursue it. This is best exemplified on his track, What We All Want, where he conveys “I spark this speech like stars to bleed light when it’s hard to see/I’ve scarred my knees praying for a peace of mind and a heart that’s free. Cause that’s what we all want.” And even simpler, his music and way of life can be summed up in one lyric from his song Keep Shining (which is a tribute to the strong and independent women of the World) off of the album TSOL (2010). He humbly delivers “You can’t be everything to everyone. So let me be anything to anyone.” A lyric we all can undoubtedly apply to our own lives.
In today’s society, Hip-Hop and Rap are so widely considered to be such a negative genre, and in all honesty, with what is presented accessible to the masses through the radio and television, that instantaneous assumption is unfortunately an understandable one. But Shad, along with countless of other artists, is a living testament that meaningful Hip-Hop, deeply rooted with substance and good-nature, really never died.. and never will.
*Shad is releasing a brand new album, called Flying Colours, in one month on October 15th. He currently has three studio albums available: When This Is Over (2005), The Old Prince (2007) and TSOL (2010). You can follow him and check his tour dates out HERE. Below is a brief interview and a couple select music videos of his.
Finally Known Interview with WRG Mag:
Rose Garden (TSOL):
Keep Shining (TSOL):
Brother (The Old Prince):