Shad spreads consciousness

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A Review of Shad’s latest EP Boarding Pass

“Hip-Hop ain’t dead, it lives in the North”… and no, I’m not talking about Drake. Shad has continuously proven himself to be one of the most talented and socially conscious MCs in the game with his albums The Old Prince, Juno-winning TSOL, and Flying Colours. On all of these albums Shad has showcased his ability to deliver bars on bars while still addressing contemporary issues. On his most recent project, Shad teams up with producer DJ T.Lo, who produced TSOL’s leading single “Rose Garden,” and continues this trend of high quality traditionalist hip-hop.

Just a short five songs, this compressed EP is a non-stop delivery of Shad’s expertise. The opening track “Fire” hits you with a fast-paced beat giving the man opportunity to hit you with straight fire. He starts the track off with a homage to RapGenius and ends the song with the lyric “still the champ,” a perfect transition into track two: “Always Winnin.” In this track Shad does his signature, extra-Canadian, bragging while still sounding a bit humble. This technique finds him shining over a choppy and groovy beat.

The following two tracks stand-out the most on the album, both bringing forward exemplary instrumentals (be prepared to see them both on Swagazine Weekly’s Best Beats of 2014) and incredible lyricism. The first is “Hang On”, which starts off with a nice throw back intro that then builds into an incredible piano sample driven beat that gives Shad an already textured canvas to add his flare to. On this track Shad discuss the status of the music industry saying, “Now they love Louis/ CK and David Chappelle because truth is/ Comedians speaking more truth than we in music/ Like we traded mediums, now we the ones that act foolish.”

Track four is easily the best beat on this album. “Take Flight” where Shad talks about the ups and downs of touring as an MC, showing us DJ T.Lo abilities. This sample driven complexity is perhaps one of the most funky beats of 2014 and surely the stand-out track on this EP.

Shad and T.Lo close out the EP with the much more soulful jam “Knock”, a beat driven by its power vocal sample. The tune’s first verse follows Shad recounting his determination to make it in the business. The second verse takes a turn as he addresses a number of social issues with the line, “cause more often than not, the word “choice” just means more shopping.”

Perhaps an EP has the upper hand. With just five songs, an EP is always condensed and concise; there’s no filler because there is no room for it. With Boarding Pass this is exactly the case. Shad comes through with his most consistent and flawless effort to date. All five tracks are beautiful instrumentals that allow Shad to do what he does best: bring bars that make you laugh and think at the same time. So perhaps as an EP, this album has the upper hand, but regardless this is still one of the best hip-hop projects of the year.

Listen to Boarding Pass online here

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