Shad | Cult Leader
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU SOME OF THE MOST SOUR LEMONS? You turn them into Peabody awards, international Emmys and a new album titled, A Short Story About a War. At least, that’s what revered Canadian rapper Shad has done following his departure from CBC’s q two years ago.
Though he’s spent the better part of the past few years working as the host of Netflix documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution, the Flying Colours MC returns to rap five years after his last release, with a vision to explore the co-existence of fear and humanity. (Of course, Shad did explore his soft rock side with his 2016 side project Your Boy Tony Braxton; he dropped an album called Adult Contempt under that moniker in 2016.)
“The main thing I’m exploring with [ A Short Story About a War] is fear, and how much fear we walk around with and don’t even notice,” Shad says. “[There’s] this question of how much of our fear is based on a real threat and how much is an illusion — that’s kind of what I’m interested in. What I was trying to get at was these layers of conflict; social conflict, conflict within ourselves, and also get at the root of violence in a lot of ways — and I’m trying to define violence broadly, not just physical or military violence, but also economic violence, verbal violence, the way we socially exercise power.”
Shad explains that the concept of the album isn’t a reflection of current social issues, but rather came to him as a vision five years ago that he couldn’t shake off.
“When I think about this album, it’s not like any other project I’ve ever worked on — I think about it as the story [which] I want to make come alive in different ways,” he says. “This is the opposite of what I wanted to make. I wanted to make an album that feels really good, because of how horrible the world was — I wanted to make a Bill Withers album. I made a lot of songs in that vein, very soulful and positive, but then I was also making these songs, and this project was just calling me.”
While the themes of A Short Story About a and evil, Shad is prepared to win any “war” ahead of him.
“It’s been a cool new season for me in my career since Flying Colours, trying new things, being a learner again and really just trying to make a contribution. Your legacy is going to be judged in whatever way it’ll be judged, and I’m open to that. I just want to help. That’s it.”
“This is the opposite of what I wanted to make. I wanted to make a Bill Withers album.”