Shad Talks Smashing the Glass Ceiling of Underground Hip-Hop

Shad Talks Smashing the Glass Ceiling of Underground Hip-Hop
Shad is dropping his fourth album, Flying Colours next week, but he's still trying to keep his expectations realistic. He's following up a Juno-winning album, 2010 's TSOL, and was recently ranked No. 2, ahead of Drake, on CBC's list of "The 25 Greatest Canadian Rappers Ever." Still, the Vancouver-based rapper remained humble while reflecting on his ranking.

"It's always a bit of a funny thing to see, with all [Drake's] success," Shad tells Exclaim! in a recent Exclaim! interview. "But it's cool, means that people really listen to what I'm doing 'cause I think if you're going to appreciate me in that kinda way, you're definitely listening closely."

While he stays humble — as his expectations have been exceeded before — Shad is optimistic about the future.

"I remember making [2007's] The Old Prince and thinking there's a serious ceiling to how far this can go. And it exceeded my expectations," Shad reflects. "I toured two years ago with Macklemore in the States, and we were playing to like 200 people in Philadelphia. What he was doing, which was very much in the vein of Atmosphere or something... but we've all seen him smash through that.

"You never really know. I agree to some extent that there's a bit of a glass ceiling as far as underground hip-hop and who it might appeal to. But I've even been surprised thus far in my own career. I didn't think I'd ever have the reach I have now."

In the meantime, Shad continues on his hot streak of incorporating Canadian references into his rhymes. Asked what his most Canuck-centric line to date has been, he responds that "on 'Stylin' I'm talking about MPP, NDP... that's definitely up there. 'She never hit college like the Danforth,' that's definitely up there. There are some obscure ones but those two are at the top."

Flying Colours drops October 15 through Black Box Music. As previously reported, Shad is taking the album out on a Canadian fall tour, and you can see all the dates here.