Flying Colours

BY Aaron MatthewsPublished Oct 11, 2013

On fourth album Flying Colours, Vancouver, BC rapper Shad explores uncharted waters, experimenting with longer songs and other genres: "Progress" interpolates "American Pie" for a seven-minute, two-part song suite that includes spoken word and an extended rock outro. While "Progress" kills the momentum, the album remains largely cohesive in production and sequencing despite detours into new territory. In particular, the Lights-backed "Remember To Remember" broods on life lessons over tribal drums, before culminating in a gorgeous electro coda. Perfect summer jam "Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)" examines Canada's immigrant population from both personal and political angles. Shad hasn't forgotten how to spit though, and his career-best flossing on "Stylin" is proof, aided by a smooth Saukrates chorus. On Flying Colours, Shad has matured while still remaining playful and honest, digging deeper into his Common-esque similes while pushing his musicality forward. "Epilogue (Long Jawn)" offers a palate cleanser after the heavier material of "Love Means" and "Thank You," with Shad emptying his brain for almost seven minutes over a breezy piano loop. He's acknowledging his place in hip-hop and attempting to reach beyond it. However, not everything on Flying Colours works: Eternia tag-team "Love Means" is fine, but sounds misplaced and "Intro: Lost" feels unnecessary despite solid verses from Shad, K-os and Ian Kamau. Flying Colours is a wake-up call to anyone sleeping on Canadian rappers and Shad's coming for the crown next time.
(Black Box)

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