On January 29th, the Grad Club received a much-needed dose of Canadian hip hop. Though neither Queen’s, nor Kingston for that matter, are particularly renowned for a deep appreciation of hip hop culture, the energy of the Grad Club’s pulsating crowd told an entirely different story.
The sold out concert began with an opening performance by Egyptian Prescription, a 3rd year Queen’s med student by day, and up-and-coming rapper by night. Wearing what could only be described as a Bill Cosby inspired sweater, this rapper’s quirky demeanor transformed into an infectious liveliness; his mild manner a clever disguise for his witty lyrical prowess. As possibly the most educated rapper in the Canadian music industry right now, Egyptian Prescription finds time to perform frequently throughout Kingston and the GTA when he isn’t busy with his medical student workload. In an on-stage moment, he shed his Cosby attire to reveal a black t-shirt that read, “ I Opened for Shad K” in red text.
After the concert, I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Egyptian Prescription, whose real name is Joe Gabriel. He explained how inspirational Shad has been to him as both a friend and musician throughout his five years as an artist. Last night’s Grad club performance was the eighth time Gabriel performed with Shad, expressing how appreciative he was of Shad’s contribution to the Canadian music industry. When asked what makes Canadian hip hop distinct, Gabriel noted that Canadian hip hop, through flow and lyrics, is more closely aligned with the hip hop of the 90s— his Cosby sweater and Tom Jones/Fresh Prince imitation as case in point.
Gabriel’s set was the perfect opening act to Shad’s animated performance of 16 songs from each of his four albums, including “Fam Jam” ( Fe Sum Immigrants), “Lost,” and “Stylin’” from his latest album Flying Colors, released in October 2013. The Grad Club audience gave Shad a classic Queen’s welcome, chanting the Queen’s beer cheer as Shad drank from an audience member’s pitcher on stage. Two highlights of the night made this concert one of the best acts to come to Kingston this season: the first being Shad’s performance of “The Old Prince Still Lives at Home.” Audience members knew every word, rapping their best Shad impressions throughout the acapella verse. The second: Shad’s freestyle – his impromptu encore performance—where, in true Shad fashion, he somehow managed to be both funny and profound at the drop of a dime.
Shad continues his tour across Ontario for the remainder of the month of January, with performances in Waterloo on January 30th and at Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on January 31st. If the upcoming performances were anything like last nights, Shad fans across Canada will not be disappointed.
Emily Tamfo, Online Contributor
Photography: Emily Tamfo
Edited by: Emilie Nolan