For many university students, the probability of switching their program, or area of study, is a likely and not surprising decision. Yet to complete university with a planned career choice, in this case that of a business degree, and an unplanned career as an emerging rapper, is the very personal twist belonging to Shadrach Kabango.
Shadrach, who is more affectionately known as Shad K., is a bright, up-and-coming emcee from London, Ontario. With a degree in business from Wilfred Laurier University, Shad began making waves as an artist amongst the Kitchener/Waterloo university crowd, most notably by winning the annual Rhythm of Future unsigned talent competition put on by 91.5 FM The Beat, a popular urban music station. Shad took home first prize in the solo male category, earning a prize of $17, 500, which was to be used towards recording time and resources.
And use those resources he did. Shad's debut album, When This Is Over, is an eclectic collection of lyrical genius mixed with guitar strums and drum beats. A self taught guitar player, Shad learned to play on a broken, three stringed guitar in his basement one summer. Although he never saw himself as becoming a rapper, Shad has always envisioned himself doing something in a creative field. "If I wasn't in the music industry I would be sitting in an office somewhere doing a job, but dreaming about making music instead," remarks Shad.
However, there are certain aspects of his music career that he enjoys more than others. "My favourite part of being an emcee is the writing stage. I don't mind the recording but I am clueless when it comes to technical terms and producing techniques. I just let other people who know what they are doing handle that." Shad also gets a large amount of support in other areas as well, such as handling and organizing his career. "My sister is a big supporter for me. Right now she's away in Rwanda completing an internship and I'm completely lost without her. I'm like, I can't live without her!"
Shad also looks to other family members for contributions as well, most notably his mother. Bernadette Kabango, a Rwandan poet, lends her powerful vocals to recite a poem depicting the suffering and tragedy of the Rwandan genocide in a mind blowing track titled "I'll Never Understand". When asked about working on this project with his mom, Shad admits to being more nervous then she was. "She was very natural and calm. I probably did more takes then her."
Shad's musical style can be attributed as far back to his days in seventh and eight grade when he claims he used to listen to the likes of Weezer and Beyonce amongst other artists. "My friend Meg and I had a really old yellow walkman that we used to listen to, each one of us listening through one earphone." These days, Shad can be seen listening to artists such as Common and Lauryn Hill, two of his favourite musical inspirations. "I admire anyone who makes music with a certain amount of integrity in it." But don't ask him to do a musical collaboration just yet. "There are a lot of people I admire professionally but I don't think I am the best collaborator because I can't say what I like. I think I would just end up sitting in the studio with someone, liking their work and then wanting to take it home."
Although Shad insists the success that When This Is Over has had so far comes as a surprise to him, watching him perform at the Drake Hotel in Toronto later on in the evening makes it clear as to why there is such a buzz. The sounds of the acoustic guitar, upbeat drums, and smooth beat boxing; all created by a stellar ensemble band, and mixed with his melodious lyrics form a truly unique and beautiful sound. Songs such as "Rock to It", "I Get Down" and "Out of Love", in which he blatantly announces he wants a Claire Huxtable, all have the audience rocking out and enthusiastically enjoying the performance. However, the clear highlight of the night comes from the free styling brilliance that is mixed in between the different songs that Shad performs. His ability to rhyme off the top of his head and rap about a generic or specific topic equally, put Eminem's performance in 8 Mile to complete shame. His energy, emotion and personality were reverberating through the crowd and shining through the entire room.
Shad has clearly come a long way from growing up in the suburban friendly town of London, and from completing his business degree in Kitchener, however, he has a long road in front of him and by the looks of it, his journey in the music business is far from over.
For more information about Shad you can visit: www.shadk.com.
Writer: Angelica Blenich