Shad Explains His Soft Rock Side with Your Boy Tony Braxton
Published Jul 26, 2016Considering it's been three years since the release of Shad's acclaimed Flying Colours LP, fans of the now-Toronto-based rapper may have been getting antsy for the artist's next collection. Few, though, could have expected the follow-up would arrive as Adult Contempt, a record that has the rhymer born Shadrach Kabango adopting a '90s-era pop rock croon under the guise of Your Boy Tony Braxton. Even in a year rife with off-the-cuff surprise releases, Shad's change of direction came out of nowhere.
"I think some people do it more artfully than me. You've got the Beyoncé full-on drop, the eight to 12 videos and an album," Shad tells Exclaim!, in reference to his own record, which arrived earlier this month without any promotional heads-up from his record label, Arts & Crafts.
"I think what's behind it is just the climate of music right now. It's so much easier to make and put out music," he continues. "One thing that's always frustrating for artists, though it's often a good idea, is the waiting once you're done an album: setting up the marketing and creating some anticipation. It's all a good idea form a marketing standpoint, but it's frustrating. You make something you're excited about, you've finished it and you want to put it out as soon as possible."
Despite its unexpected arrival, Adult Contempt has been incubating over the last couple of years. Shad started writing the music while he was still living in Vancouver, ahead of moving to Toronto to become the host of CBC Radio's q.
As the project took off, taking inspiration from soft focus popsmiths like Michael Penn and Terrence Trent D'Arby, he headed back to his hometown of London, ON, to work on the tunes with Matthew Johnston, a childhood friend who also drums with Shad for his hip-hop sets. While the two have bonded over music since their formative years, the sweet and syrupy approach of Adult Contempt was a bit too much for Johnston at first.
"He makes fun of me for liking this music, and for knowing so much about it," Shad says with a laugh. "We connected on a lot of stuff, from hip-hop to rock music, but not so much this stuff. He's not so deep into it. I would reference things while we were recording, and he'd be like 'Why do you like that song?'"
While even his closest confidantes were razzing him, trying out a different approach was key for Shad. He's pleased to have gotten a bit of time in his busy broadcasting schedule to drop the album, and there are plans to assemble a backing band for Your Boy Tony Braxton. While Johnston may have been skeptical about the project at first, it seems like he'll be on board for even more onstage action with Shad.
"He's come around to it a little bit," the Boy confesses with a satisfied chuckle.
You can listen to all of Adult Contempt below.