Words by Ryan Reyes

Photography by Khammy Phanthavong

He beat out Drake at the JUNO Awards a few years back. He has a master’s degree and has even given a TED Talk. Shad is one talented and sharp dude. We had the opportunity to ask the lyrically-gifted emcee a few questions before his afternoon set at the Fifth Element stage at Soundset. Here’s what went down.

First off, I’m from Winnipeg and I know you’ve been there often. Any fond memories?

Oh yeah, so many! I was there for the JUNOs this year. It’s kind of a blurmostly hunting for free food. I was there in November at Union Sound Hall. That was fun. I’ll be back for Jazz Fest, too. I’ve always liked Winnipeg. It reminds me a bit of my hometown of London, Ontario. Down to earth. I’ve always felt comfortable there.

Since we’re touching on Winnipeg, how do you take your Slurpee?

I know it’s the Slurpee capital of the world. First of all, I got to put this out there: I’m a fan of the Slush Puppy. At this point in my life, I’m pretty much a plain coke slushy guy. But if there’s banana poppin’ off I’ll put half and half. Banana on top.

What are you currently working on?

This summer I’m playing a few festivals. I’m always working on new music and demoing a bunch of songs. Not for any project in particular but for just a sense of where I’m going with the next one. So that’s the zone that I’m in right now. I’ll likely work more seriously on the new album this fall.

Do you think there are some advantages to being a Canadian in the Hip Hop industry?

I think there are some advantages to just being Canadian. I’ve toured enough in the States to understand what life is like here. Not to say our country is perfect. We have some things to be happy about like education, healthcare and a social safety net. In the music industry here in America is where the culture originally came from and is exported to the world. So you can say there could be a certain advantage to being a cultural producer here.

Let’s get a little less serious here. If you could hang out with anyone famous dead or alive who would it be?

We’ll start with dead. Some heroes: Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers. Then for alive: Kanye, Stevie Wonder. Okay, well, that was two dead and two alive.

Any acts that you’d like to catch at Soundset?

Yeah, I’ve never seen Nas. I’m really looking forward to seeing Nas. Aside from that I don’t know who else I’m gonna get to see because of interviews and my set. Nas is the only time slot that I’m truly free for. Actually I wanna catch some of the Spurs game. Unfortunately I’m going to miss some of Atmosphere’s set but I’ve seen him before.

Have you attended Soundset before?

No I haven’t. This is my first time and it definitely won’t be my last.