He’s included mention of Jay Z in at least a few verses, and reviewed “Watch the Throne” for the National Post. The decided focus Shad, a Kenya-born, Ontario-raised MC, has put on one of the most popular rappers in the world is a bit confusing. Yeah, he’s rich and his buddy’s married to a Kardashian, but neither of those things has made his bloated discography anything other than middling. Shad shouldn’t carry around the desire to be a Jay Z, as he spits out pretty early on his fourth long-player, “Flying Colours.” Jay Z’s “Magna Carta” was another lame recording, and Shad’s apparently been gripped by enough inspiration to issue not just that fourth album, but a collaboration with Skratch Bastid, “The Spring Up,” in 2013. Beyond the guy’s clear ability to select proper production and write rhymes (that might not move too far beyond what we’ve all come to know as conscious raps), his story’s significantly more engaging than that New York MC’s. Shad’s family left Kenya, something he mentions on most of his releases, when he was a kid. But the successes his family’s achieved, cataloged on “Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins),” pretty easily trumps bein’ poor, slingin’ crack, and issuing a truckload of boring albums. Apart from all that, it’s just odd that Shad even considers the sort of broad popularity Jay’s achieved across the globe—their products are irrefutably different. It’s not that one guy thinks about his work in a different context, but Shad doesn’t ever feel the need to remind folks that he’s well-monied, tough, or anything other than a sci-fi fan. Shad winning early acclaim in Canada and taking home a Juno award might account for some of it. Tasting success in that form’s gotta be capable of warping a dude. And considering what Shad’s sculpted—“TSOL” is more than solid and “The Old Prince” is a crackerjack story—maybe there should be a bit more renown. (Dave Cantor)
November 20 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508. 7:30pm. $10-$12. 18+.