The Old Prince waxes prophetic

By Andy Williams

On “Compromise,” a standout track from 2008’s The Old Prince, Shad dropped the line “In the same way, soon the tunes get better / And I polish a Juno, who knows / I might get acknowledged and kudos.”

The line was oddly predictive. The 28-year-old rapper, born in Kenya, raised in London, Ontario and currently pursuing his master’s degree in Vancouver scooped the 2011 Juno for Best Rap Recording. What’s particular ly significant about this victory is that he had to elbow the colossal Drake– among others– out of the way to achieve it. That being said, the win has done nothing to change Shad’s unusual opinion about his music career, which he views as temporary– or at least, he views public interest in his work as temporary.

“There’s just not a lot of people making music at 50,” says Shad. “If you have a 10-year run, that’s great. If you have a 15-year run, you’re a legend. It’s not a bad thing to keep in mind. I love music; I have a blast with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was making music for the rest of my life. I’d just be surprised if people were into it for the rest of my life.”

It’s hard to envision an end to a career that is so rapidly on the rise. Shad got his first big break in 2005 as an undergraduate student at Wilfred Laurier University when he won $17,500 in a talent competition. The win allowed him to finance his first album, When This is Over, an atypical, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating affair. Since then, it’s been a non-stop parade of recognition and critical acclaim. Still, he’s put a lot of thought in his stance.

“There are some people who always manage to stay fresh whether they reinvent themselves or whether they stay the same and still resonate with people– those cases are just so rare,” explains Shad. “Or sometimes life changes, circumstances change, maybe you have a whole litter of kids and you want to stay home more. It’s just reality. It’s just life. It’s not the worst idea to keep that in mind while you’re having fun and being creative.”

Shad’s creative endeavors are expanding. On March 23, a column he wrote was published in the Vancouver Sun. Though the piece was just supposed to be a blog post, it gained traction and ended up in print. In the article, Shad advocates that award shows, like the Junos, should recognize those who dedicate their lives to improving society, not just musicians.

“It’s cool that they printed that,” says Shad. “One of the editors asked me to be a part of a small community of bloggers for the Vancouver Sun. I thought it would be cool because I’ve never really written in that kind of style, so I thought it would be fun to try out. So, my first blog post and they wanted to print it. It’s still an idea I believe in and I think it’s not actually outrageous, so it’s cool people are into it.”

In the article, Shad shares the story of his friend Craig, who helps the homeless population of East Vancouver by giving them a space to stay. Shad argues that selfless people like Craig rarely receive the recognition they deserve. Keep an eye on award shows, because who knows what could happen? The words of the “youngin’ out of London” have proved prophetic before.

Web Exclusive: The Gauntlet Interviews Shad at Republik, May 4 2011

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