The National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene festival has now come to a close in Canada’s capital. One of the more highly anticipated shows was London, Ontario native Shad.

Among the opening acts, Zoo Legacy stood out as having a polished sound worthy of a much larger audience. With their signature rap-rock fusion sound, Zoo performed fan favourites L.K.U.T. and Echo. In their few years on the scene they’ve already learned how to properly interact with a crowd to create an engaging and personal show. If there was an Ottawa music yearbook this band would get our vote for “mostly likely to have mainstream success.”

The main act, Shad, delivered as expected. There’s a rare MC in the game right now who could match his gift with words. With his cheek to cheek grin from beginning to end, one thing is clear- the person having the most fun at a Shad concert is Shad. You can tell he has high regard for the art form of making music reflected in his lyrics and the artistry of his band. DJ TLO, whose enthusiasm for the music was almost as infectious as Shad’s, added to the energy of the performance.

Their set started off a bit like other hip hop concerts with a lot of lyrics you may not get the first time around if you don’t know them already. However, like a good professor, Shad makes you want to go back and read his lyrics to get the full message. Not every artist can do that. Something about the way Shad flows draws you in and makes you want to understand the person behind the lyrics. He comes off as quite intellectual and makes you want to learn more about his perspective.

As expected, he performed his hits Rose Garden and the Fresh Prince of Belair inspired The Old Prince Still Lives At Home. He also brought social consciousness on Fam Jam and heart and spirituality on A Good Name that reveals more about who he is. He definitely has a good name with meaning and history; meaning that comes out in his rhymes.

Shad is a throwback to real hip-hop. What makes him different from other hip-hop artists right now is his ability to just be himself. He gives a very real artistic experience; no gimmicks. What you see is what you get. He even showcased another talent- playing the guitar while rapping on Rock To It.

Overall, it was one of the better shows that we’ve been to. If you’re not a Shad fan already, go to one of his concerts and you will be.
Review by Kevin & Koliah Bourne
(@kevinrbourne/@koliah.bourne)<Photos by Kevin Bourne