In an effort to dig deeper into the creative and personal influences behind new music, we recruit artists to tell us about five records that they consider "Essential" by any definition they like. This time around, we decided to have Shad dig through the dollar bin at Sonic Boom Records and pick out five for us to buy him.
""Oh hey Shad, I hate rap but I like you'/Well I hate that, but I like you/At least, I like that you like me,” raps Shad on his latest album, Flying Colours. As a likeable everyman, the London, Ontario-born MC is often saddled with the baggage of being the rapper that (often white) non-rap fans deem "okay" to like, implicitly drawing a line between him and the rest of hip-hop.Well, that actually couldn't be more ironic. In a lot of ways, Shad's witty, charismatic flow puts him in line with the heroes of the golden age - basically, pure hip-hop. And like many of those way-back rappers, Shad's music picks up cues from music all over the stylistic sphere, from Billy Bragg to Jay-Z.
So we thought it'd be fun to set him loose on the dollar bin at Toronto's vinyl paradise Sonic Boom and see what he could come up with. The result is a five dollar playlist bursting with deep cut gems. if you hear one on a future Shad album, you can go ahead and thank us.
Bruce Cockburn, Inner City Front (1981)
Bruce is the toughest name a man can have. And Bruce Cockburn… what can you say? Icon. I haven’t listened to this album here, but I’m familiar with some of his other work. A talented guitarist. A talented songwriter. An impassioned man with something to say. With Bruce, you know you’re getting quality music.
David Foster, The Symphony Sessions (1988)
I got another Canadian here: David Foster, songwriter. I believe he wrote… uh… [sings Whitney Houston's] “I Have Nothing”, among other tracks. And this is him playing with a full orchestra, live from the Orpheum Theartre in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I now reside. He thanks Wayne Gretzky. We all thank Wayne Gretzky. Didn’t he inspire us all?
Musiq Soulchild, "The Girl Next Door" single (2001)
Musiq Soulchild. [Sings the song]. Sick track. With that sample... [sings the sample]. Also sampled by Beck on “Debra.” Same sample! [Sings "Debra"] Great track. Maybe I’ll use it for an interlude in the show where I have to talk smooth, maybe intro some track... for the ladies.
K-Tel Power House, 20 Original Hits, 20 Original Stars
I’m really in to this one just for two tracks: On Side 1, “Sweet Thing” by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan; On Side 2, “Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates. I think that’s late ‘70s Hall & Oates. People are into the ‘80s Hall & Oates, but “Sara Smile,” that’s a serious song. It’s magic.
Medical Mission Sisters. Joy is Like the Rain (1966)
The cover looks like it straight out of The Sound of Music. There’s roughly a dozen nuns, one with a guitar. I just feel like I can’t go wrong with this. [Reading from the cover] “They were never really written, they were never really planned. With her guitar alone in the fields on the hill, she simply sang her songs.” You really can't go wrong.