Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jul 26th 2010 12:15PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Hip-hop goes down well at summer festivals, and Shad's sound proved to be a particularly good fit, with its laid-back but thoughtful vibe. No braggadocio or posturing here -- known for his nimble wordplay referencing everything from his personal background to pop culture, Shad's genuine warmth and playful sense of humour rang through loud and clear during his spirited set.
Like several other artists at Hillside with current releases under their belt, Shad chose not to stick simply to new material, instead serving up a mix of tracks from previous releases as well as newer songs. But while the crowd was clearly onside with the overview, singing and clapping along to most of the tunes, given the stronger punch of his new music, one was left wishing Shad had leaned more heavily on the 'TSOL' material during his set.
Backed by only a DJ and bassist, Shad (who occasionally picked up an electric guitar himself when not bounding across the stage with mic in hand) nonetheless managed to create a full sound that brought to mind the smooth, low-end-heavy sound of the best of old-school hip-hop.
But while his style might evoke what came before, Shad's no mere imitator -- tracks like 'Keep Shining' made a deft impact with their intelligent lyricism (the song is a shout-out to the influence of strong women in life and hip-hop), melodic samples, and dense beats.
Older fan favourites like the hard-hitting 'Compromise' had the crowd flinging their arms in the air to the beat, while the always amusing 'The Old Prince Still Lives At Home' (arguably the song that catapulted Shad into the spotlight with its 'Fresh Prince' parody video) elicited one of the biggest responses of the festival, as Shad urged the audience to clap out the beat while he rapped the outro a capella. Playing off the cheapskate theme of the song, Shad quipped: "I don't know how you guys can afford to come here [to the festival], but I plan on volunteering from now on."
Perhaps the smilingest emcee to ever rock a stage, Shad was clearly enjoying himself as much as the audience, kicking an errant beach ball back into the crowd, dropping clever freestyle verses, and offering a constant stream of wry banter between songs.
Poking fun of himself for writing "emo" songs, the rapper introduced 'Out of Love, Pt. 2' by joking that his bandmates can't handle his sentimental side. "Is anyone not in love right now? This song goes out to you," Shad said, admitting, "We jacked the chorus from the Fugees for this one."
The rapper's west coast pals Hey Ocean joined in on the fun, with singer Ashleigh Ball standing in for Broken Social Scene vocalist Lisa Lobsinger on blissful summer jam 'Rose Garden'. Unfortunately, Ball's thin vocals were no match for Lobsinger'' sweet backing harmonies on the album version, but given that Shad's set relied heavily on samples, another live element was still welcome.
Initial closer 'Get Up' seemed like a bit of an uninspired choice to wrap up the set, but realizing he still had more time, Shad launched into a forceful version of 'A Good Name' as his final number. One of the strongest tracks on his new album, the song sketches out the story of the origins of the rapper's full name (Shadrach Kabango), and underscores the wit and humanity behind his music -- characteristics also fully on display in his memorable turn at Hillside.