Toronto rapper Shad’s latest album TAO, released last year, takes listeners through the thought processes of Taoist beliefs and social awareness. Book by CS Lewis from 1943 The abolition of man and Shoshana Zuboff’s 2019 book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism are used as references by Shad to provide context to dystopian changes in society on music that has a traditional hip-hop sound infused with the sampling and lyricism of funk, soul and jazz.
Shad’s driving force for revolving his music around sociological issues comes from his use of art. He deals with aspects of his life through his music to better understand them.
“The way I thought about writing the album was to write about a bunch of different aspects of our lives as human beings – our relationship to work, to nature, to technology and to other beings. humans,” says Shad. “I thought about all these different aspects of who we are, because it occurred to me that each of these different aspects of our lives as human beings seem to be under threat.”
This musical organization of Shad’s thoughts allows his audience to form their own philosophical ideals. He emphasizes that people are responsible for changes in our society and says that they must play an active role in their future.
“If we can pause and follow the changes, we can escape this trap of thinking things are as they always have been,” he says. “It is not fate or a process over which we have no control. In the end, it’s our decision.
Throughout the history of hip-hop, artists have incorporated issues of sociological malaise into their work. For Shad, artists such as Lauren Hill, 2Pac and A Tribe Called Quest exemplify this, while having a full personality with a range of characters.
“If you think about portrayals of young black people, it wasn’t common and still isn’t that common to get these really comprehensive images of human beings,” he says. “It inspired me and I hope to convey that as well, the sense of ‘You can be all of those things, and you can be an entirely complex human being, and you can show all of that.'”
By incorporating these influences into his work, Shad inspires and passes the metaphorical torch of hip-hop.
“I try to inject as much humor, twist, energy and excitement into the music as possible,” he says. “So even when it gets brooding or contemplative, I hope it’s included in a helpful and uplifting way.”
Shad creates a relatable and uplifting sense of insight with his music, and the effect of this can be seen in his live shows.
“Club shows are this really special mix of fun and lots of smiles on faces and moving bodies,” he says. “Also, there’s a lot of depth, and there’s really a connection around the art and the words and the ideas. It’s this really special blend of these things coming together.
With their live performances and musical content, Shad brings their audience together in celebration of life.
“I hope they leave with a sense of hope and inspiration; it’s always the most important thing,” he says. “And I hope they laugh and think along the way, that their minds expand a bit and they are pushed to think differently. And it’s a nice ride.
Wednesday, June 8
$22.50, Capital Ballroom