Shad - TSOL
Released: 12 Nov 2011
Style: Pop Rap
Arctic Top Track: Keep Shining
Review by: Rich Pickings - 25th May 2012
Look, being in denial about the existence of Canadian hip-hop – like it was the Yeti or something – is funny, but needs to get stowed away. True, Shad was born in Kenya before reaching Ontario as a childhood refugee, but the Maple Leafs and Mounties deserve full credit for his development into a slightly screw ball but very real up and comer with a fresh and positive take on an over crowded platform.
He's certainly not a novice, making his début in 2005 with the self financed When This Is Over (The money partially coming from prizes won in local rapping open mic nights), although for reason yet to be explained TSOL arrives in Europe 18 months after it initially dropped in his adopted home country.
Maybe it was perceived that Shad's smorgasbord of styles would be less confusing to us over the pond, what with us not really having a domestic scene worth any kudos (Yawn). Either way the game may well be loose, non aggressive and Saturday afternoon, but it still doesn't stop Telephone and At The Same Time having enough gravity to create a real sense of purpose. Daisy Age? Maybe, but this is a man who believes in giving you positive antihistamines for the soul, as Keep Shining's ringing gospel message of open horizons and cultural togetherness does more for any community than mad love for hoes and blow ever did.
One of the chief moans coming from rap haters is that the creativity on which it was based – economic and political at the start, musical later – has all but dried up in the face of a big label nihilism. We say screw you on that one, and offer for the defence our client's global hit in waiting Rose Garden (Yes, that one) which strides forth from the ashes of the mousey original and comes off like a love contract with no get out clause you want to exercise. Not happy? Well, We, Myself & I Might be a terrible punning title, but instead it rocks out like De La Grohl himself, totally in contrast with it's tie dyed bed fellows. Truly, we are blessed.
It's easy to forget rap is supposed to come from the streets rather than inside an expensive suit or half way down a glass of Crystal. Those streets don't have to be mean or necessarily dirty either you know, just real. TSOL's self written sleeve notes end in the word “Peace”. Which is certainly a notion for all us flower wearing hippies to keep fighting for, our way.