“Five Minutes With” Toronto Hip Hop artist Shad

Over the course of five records to date, the JUNO Award-winning Toronto rapper Shad has used an array of old-school tools to tackle modern problems, addressing the indignities and absurdities of our world through a shapeshifting mélange of boom-bap breaks, dusty soul samples, jazzy improvisation, and 10-dollar words rolled into thousand-dollar rhymes. But after weaving his myriad musical and philosophical interests into a socio-political song cycle on 2018’s Polaris shortlisted A Short Story About A War, Shad began building his sixth record, TAO, from a much simpler concept: an image of a circle. Though, in true Shad fashion, he saw something much more profound within its basic round boundaries.

TAO is about deep connection, wholeness, and the various threats to it. TAO refers to the Chinese philosophy of naturalism and is an acronym drawn from CS Lewis’ highly prescient 1943 book, The Abolition Of Man, that discusses The Tao. The TAO acronym is also found in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff, another very influential book for Shad during his writing process. “The books were written something like 70 years apart but totally connect on the topic of preserving our humanness against certain threatening ideologies and technologies,” he explains. “Each song on the album focuses on a different part (or parts) of our humanity that we’ve been losing touch with.”

Photo credit: Justin Broadbent

Name: Shad

Genre: Hip-Hop

Founded: 2005

# of Albums: 6

Latest Release: TAO

Latest Single: Black Averageness

Latest Video:

Favourite musician as a teenager:

Common, Outkast, Lauryn Hill

Favourite musician now:

Kendrick Lamar, Sault

Guilty Pleasure Song:

The only song I truly feel conflicted about is probably Drops Of Jupiter by Train.

Live Show Ritual:

Put on lightweight shoes, stretch

Favourite local artist:

Charlotte Cornfield

EP or LP?


Early bird or night owl?

Night owl

Road or studio?


Any shows or albums coming up?

New album is called TAO, out everywhere October 1st.


Rapid Fire Qs from Toronto

Favourite local Restaurant:

Sugo + Conzos, Caribbean Queen of Patties, Seoul Shakers

Favourite Street:

My street

Favourite Park?

Carlton Park

Favourite Music Venue?

The Baby G

Favourite Toronto Staple?


Where can we follow you?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube




About Joel Levy 2574 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography