May 26, 2010

Reader Review: Shad - When This Is Over (2005)

(For today's Reader Review, Patrick lets us know about Canadian emcee Shad's first effort, When This Is Over. Be sure to leave your comments and questions for Patrick below.)

Regardless of what you may think, we have emcees in Canada who aren't named Drake or Snow. Some of the most notable ones include k-os, Choclair, Saukrates, Classified, Rascalz...I could go on, but today I'm going to focus on Shadrach Kabango, who performs as simply Shad (or Shad K, if you wish to be formal).

If you're not familiar with Shad (and most people aren't), allow me to expand on his story. Shadrach was born to Rwandan parents in Kenya, but was quickly relocated to London, Ontario, Canada, where he grew up. So for those of you who heard that he was from London and were wondering where the hell his accent was, now you know. Yes, Canada does have a London (and a Paris, too, but I digress).

After starting classes at University, I can only assume that he woke up one morning and decided to rhyme, as he entered and won a radio station freestyle competition, walking away with $17,500, with which he recorded his debut album, When This Is Over, which was a showcase for both his writing skills and his guitar playing abilities (k-os plays guitar, too – hey, the more you know).

So. (*presses play*)

To me, Canadian Hip Hop has always had a unique sound. It isn't as though all of the beats are completely different than they are anywhere else: it's just that you can usually easily distinguish between a Canadian producer (or emcee) and their American peers. With that being said, this beat is upbeat, light, and awesome. Once Shad starts to rhyme, you can tell what kind album you are in for. Scratches are included, and as almost every hip hop song benefits from these, their appearance was appreciated. Although the scratches at the end are little off-sounding, they are there to demonstrate Shad's point of only being in music for the right reasons. I wonder if Busta Rhymes is mad about this song's title.

Another great beat; I'm not sure if Shad is playing his guitar on here, but there is clearly guitar on here. Shad starts off by giving props to 91.5, the radio station that put on the contest. Shad comes with some ridiculously corny puns, but he manages to get away with it. Some sample lyrics: “I'm the biggest thing out of Canada since Pamela's double D's"; "My IQ is so high you couldn't even fly to it"; “And try to fit with the killers like OJ’s glove”. So far, Shad is two for two.

The sample on here reminds me of some Dilla/Kanye West soulful hybrid, but not really. On here, Shad rhymes about his frustrations with love and women. Apparently, he's looking for his Claire Huxtable. The lyrics are also quite conscious, but don't let that scare you off.

With Shad’s parents being Rwandan, you shouldn't really be surprised by this song's lyrical content. The drums don’t kick in until the 1:40 mark, but the story is so powerful that you won’t even notice. Shad alternates his rhymes with his mother’s spoken word performance (one of her lines being “I untied the chains / letting go /of those who propelled the grenade scattering my brother's brains”; yeah, now you have an idea how strong this is). They even shot a video for this track, which you can view by clicking here. So far, Shad is four for four.

Okay now this is definitely Shad rocking the acoustic guitar (with a backing band... or at least a drummer and a beat-boxer), but don’t let that discourage you, as this is a great example of how rock music and hip hop can coexist. My favourite lines: "Even back in '82 my ultrasound was the jam”; “I could fill my mouth with Prozac pills and I’d still get down”; “If you want to make dough, then homey move to the States” (sucks, but he's right).

A very dope concept. A crew of people (with names such as 'Imagination' and the like) with a female foreman ( named 'Intellect') building a human being. Beautifully constructed. The song, anyway, not the person (although I'd bet they have a great personality.)

The concept is good, and if I'm mellowed out enough I love the beat. But it is quite slow and Shad's flow is delivered quite softly, so much so that you may fall asleep to this song. If you are able to stay awake, you will hear Shad discussing the Bible, religion and existence. He doesn't use any biblical quotes or overly religious tones (I'm not sure how that's even possible, but trust me on this one), so it isn't exclusionary in any way. This is really a great song, but the beat and the lyrics make it very hard to stay awake. Damn. And When This Is Over was doing so well, too.

I don't want to say this, but I have to: meh.

Less chipmunk-like then Kanye West’s beats, but this song will wear on you. Lyrically, though, Shad does a great job. I guess you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this track.

Rather slow paced, but I still find this song amazing. This simple tale is summed up with a quote toward the end: "The greatest story no one ever told was just the story of an ordinary man growing old”. There is some great lyricism to be found here, too. Well, at least it ended better than I had hoped.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Shad strikes me as Common plus k-os, with a dash of Will Smith/Fresh Prince (because of his profanity-free lyrics) and something unique. I can say I really liked When This Is Over. The first six songs were bangers, and the entire album only runs for ten tracks, so that ratio is amazing in hip hop. When This Is Over is a fun listen, full of humour and great beats. You’ll find yourself hitting 'rewind' to catch all of his jokes and you’ll be very surprised that Shad doesn’t curse once, which is mostly unheard of in hip hop.

BUY OR BURN?: Unfortunately, if you want a physical copy, the only place you may get it is London, Ontario, and I do mean only in that town. I personally live a couple of hours away from there, and I can't find any copies anywhere. So it will have to be a digital copy, which can easily be found on Amazon. If you are still on the fence, you can listen to some of the man's work on his official website.

BEST TRACKS: On a good day, all except “Real Game”; on a bad day, all except “Question Marks”, “Real Game”, “Wild” and “A Story No One Told”.

-Patrick (or exkimo64 (my YouTube Channel))

(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Hate mail? Leave your comments below. And if you wish to share your thoughts about your favorite albums, hit me at the e-mail address in the sidebar.)


  1. AnonymousMay 26, 2010

    k-os is the worst ever

  2. Kind of different from the way I wrote it, but then again I never really cared for English class.

    Thanks Max.

    By the way have you heard this album?

  3. Damn! If I was going to do a review for HHID (which I will once I get off my lazy ass), it would most def be a Shad album. I think he's one of the most talented rappers out there right now. 'When This Is Over' is a good debut, but things get even better with his second release, 'The Old Prince,' and better STILL with his third effort, 'TSOL' (which just came out yesterday, I might add).

    Shad is really worth checking out. Awesome review.

  4. protomanMay 26, 2010

    something was off about this review but i cant really put my finger on it. thats how i feel about all canadians though, i cant really explain it but theres just something i dont like. its like they give off some type of vibe or something

  5. This and The Old Prince are great albums but Shad's 2009 TSOL is completely ridiculous. Things been on repeat since I got it.

  6. this is really good, i was doubtful so i went to his site, glad i did, i needed new music, haha, he's good, the only thing is, like u said, he sounds like common (an older version though) but that's cool cuz common sucks now

  7. protomanMay 27, 2010

    well i listened to shad and he's pretty boring. review scarface's the diary already nigga

  8. I have a question fro "protoman", and I'm asking in all honesty.

    "Do you actually read the reviews and check the music to see if what the person says is true, or do you just knock what most people say just because you can?"

    Because anytime I've seen one of your comments it's been negative. Maybe you should check the music, you may like it.

    Personally I think Shad is probably one of the better MCs this decade. But that's just my opinion maybe you should check it out for yourself.... you may find you like it.

  9. Protoman Jr.May 27, 2010

    well i read Patricks comment and he's pretty boring. review scarface's the diary already nigga

  10. protomanMay 27, 2010

    well patrick lets just say "conscious" is usually another word for boring as hell

  11. Shads dope great to finally see a review,some one should do TSOL next, that albums dope ass hell.

  12. Shad is one of the best rapper out now.

  13. Wow can honestly say this is one of the last people i expected to be reviewed here. Awesome album though, good review.

  14. Old Prince is a dope album, and this one was pretty great too. I'm glad Shad is getting more exposure now, he definitely deserves it.

  15. propogandaMay 30, 2010

    we have a phrase in yaad "mad like shad", the word "shad" being the measure of an extreme level of madness...this kid is maaaad! i followed the link and checked out a portion of his tracks and is like he puts me in mind of Blu, ill mic skills and the requisite b-boy swagger but tempered with a dash of spirituality and social conciousness ... refreshing difference from the fakkery the mainstream shovelling...
    yow yute, how yaa talk bout "notable" Canadian mic chanters and yuh nuh mention Kardinal?

  16. propoganda - to be fair, he may have mentioned him, but when I edited it down I may have cut that line. I can't recall at the moment.

  17. propogandaMay 31, 2010

    my bad yute, bless