::WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WITH A CANADAN TWIST::

 

 
This newsletter is designed to give you updated entertainment-related news, provide you with some upcoming event listings and share some helpful tips.  

                                               
 

::NEWSLETTER

Join My Email List
Email:  

::GALLERY

::INTERVIEWS

::CONTACT US

::CARIBBEAN COVERAGE

::FEES

::ARCHIVES

::ABOUT US

::CLIENTS

::ENDORSEMENTS

::OPINIONS

::EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW::   
November 14, 2005

 

 
The Church of Hip Hop by Kardinal Offishall

If youíre a lover of hip hop with a message, loads of Canadian talent (as well as global talent) and good music, RUN, donít walk to your nearest retail store for a copy of Fire and Glory! To take from Kardinalís bio, Ďhis diction, a deft mix of Jamaican patois, mixed with Canadian and American slanguage, sounds so distinctive and dissimilar to any other music out thereÖ and thatís where the Fire comes in.í  Along with some amazing artists on this project, it is truly a signature Kardinal product.  The signature of excellence. 

Kardinal Offishall captures the scope of Fire and Glory and hip hop in general in our interview at Irie Food Joint on Monday, November 14, 2005.  This educated and articulate Canadian artist laid it down so eloquently and passionately that I could have been at a private religious service Ė the Church of Hip Hop, that is. 

LE:

Tell me about Fire and Glory.

KARDI:

The album Fire and Glory has been a couple of years in the making.  Itís finally coming out on November 15th in stores all across the country.  Itís dope because itís a collaboration between my label, Black Jays and Virgin Music Canada.  I got to incorporate some of my favourites on there.  Vybez Cartel is one of my favourite dancehall artists.  Spragga Benz who I think is one of the most underrated dancehall artists.  Also, work with Renee Neufville from Zhane and Busta Rhymes.  That was crazy.  Also I got a chance work with a lot of my favourite Canadian artists, most of which are from my crew, the Black Jays Ė so Nicole Moses, Ro DollaLindo P narrates the whole thing.  Rileyís on a song with Spragga Benz.  Just got a chance to work with a lot of really talented people. Thatís a good feeling at the end of the day.  Besides the fact that the music is good Ė the energy from those people is also a crazy thing to live with every day. 

Thereís a lot of topics on the album from police harassment to family values to people getting deported from Canada from dealing with a lot of legal things.  So many different subjects that we dealt with on the album.  I think that itís really thorough and complete and something that any Canadian or anybody around the world, for that matter, should be proud of. 

LE:

You produced most of Fire and Glory Ė why did you decide to take that on this time and not before as youíve produced so many other artists (a virtual Whoís Who of urban music talent)?

KARDI:

Really and truly I think itís because itís been so long since Iíve come out with a full length on a major label thatís been one of my own.  I wanted it to be more about myself.  I wanted to be able to showcase what Iím dealing with as far as production goes.  Iíve worked with a lot of different people over the years but I definitely wanted to have my production shown on this album.

My music is an extension of myself and the best way to represent yourself is to do it yourself if you can.  Iíve been putting in work for many years now and I think I know where I want to be and how I want to be represented so Iím always of the opinion that no matter what it is in life, that if you want it done properly, do it yourself.  Whenever Iíve been given the opportunity, Iíll do anything myself.  The more personal it is to me, the more that I will protect my baby, meaning the music.  I think when itís not as much you then you can kind of fall back if something doesnít work and then say Ďoh somebody else did thatí but when itís more you, you kind of hold on to it more and you have a lot more to prove and you feel it more.

LE:

Would you say that the difference between this project and other projects would be?

KARDI:

So far in working with other artists I was able to give them my twist and thatís the whole thing about it is being able to work with someone else and even with yourself, and pulling out something that they might not have been able to do on their own.  I kind of challenge myself, sometimes itís a challenge just to be able to master a song.  Somebody elseís?  It releases something else in your brain but when itís you, you have to work that much harder to make it an above average piece of work. 

LE:

Part of our Canadian culture is that we embrace so many cultures Ė have you ever been tempted to step outside your culture to make a hit?

KARDI:

Itís always tempting.  Iíve had that dangled in front of me before.  ĎWhy donít you just work with this person?í but I believe that I have a greater purpose than just making a hit song.  Thereís more to it than just the hit.  Thereís a message that goes along with it, thereís a movement that goes along with it, thereís a mentality that goes along with what Iím trying to do.  I donít think itís as easy as doing a formula song that radio is going to play over, over and over.  Thatís not what Iím here for.  Iím here for more than that. 

LE:

Do you feel a certain responsibility on the mike? 

KARDI:

Having a microphone is definitely a responsibility.  Some people donít like to feel responsible like ĎIím not responsible for your childrení and really and truly, we are not directly responsible because I feel that even on the day when I have my kids, that nobodyís going to say that my child is a certain way because of television or radio.  Itís going to be because of how I brought them up.  I think that no matter what I do in life, it is a direct result of how my parents raised me and the values that they have instilled in me. 

But I also feel that you cannot be just reckless on the mike because your words and the vibe you put out there has an effect on peopleís lives.  I know that for sure because of the profound effect that many different artists had on my life.  Anybody from Chuck D and Public Energy to Bob Marley to Mobb Deep to whoever.  These people affected my life and how I grew up so I definitely want to have a certain kind of effect on the way the people grow up as well. 

LE:

What would you say is the unique contribution of Canadian hip hop?

KARDI:

I think that itís similar to other places but what that really is the emigration of people from the West Indies to other places in the world.  Whenever I go to London, itís a similar mix of people, a similar mind state.  I think because Canada, especially Toronto, deals with the whole idea of being a cultural mosaic, it comes out not only in the music, it will come out in the artist, the way they view the world, they way they think about things.  If you look at us, anybody from Nelly Furtado, kos, myself Ė Nelly Furtado is a proud Portuguese person, kos is a proud Trini and myself, a proud Jamaican Ė that type of thing youíre not going to get in the States. 

Until he died, and they started digging for info, you didnít know that Biggie Smalls mom and dad were from Jamaica, you didnít know that.  Thatís not necessarily what they promote over there.  Pete Rock, who is now a good friend of mine, his parents are from Jamaica.  He actually has family over here.  Renee Neufville (from Zhane), whoís on the album, her parents are from Jamaica but her whole career, they couldnít find a way to put that into her music and have people understand it in the States.  Whereas here, we get it because thatís how we always came up.  From Dream Warriors to Michie Mee, weíve always had that in our music.  I think thatís pretty unique just because weíve been doing it for so long.  Michie was repping that way back in 1987. 

LE:

What do you like most about being a Canadian artist?  The least?

KARDI:

I like the fact that Iím educated Ö I could end the sentence there (laughs).  I like that Iíve learned so much about different cultures growing up here, whether itís Taste of the Danforth or celebrating Chinese New Year growing up.  Thereís just so many different things that go on here that you learn about in the school curriculum.  I grew up before all these educational cuts and they used to have cultural classes within school and you were able to take Cantonese, Black History, dance classes Ė so many things I was able to learn here. 

We have so much access to stuff Ė VideoFact, Factor Ė all these different grants that help artists flourish and help us be the best that we can be.  Thatís what I love most about being from Canada and being a Canadian artist.

What I hate is that we will forever looked at as second or sometimes third.  Thatís not just within music but thatís our military, our Government, our economy.  A good reason is because of the proximity in terms of how close we are to the States.  Because we are only 30 million people over here and theyíre 10 times more.  Itís just one of those things Ė itís always going to be like that because for every 2 Canadian channels we have on TV, theyíll have 20.  For every two artists weíll have, theyíll have 20. 

Although there was a point in time during the Trudeau years when our dollar was actually stronger and until that day comes again, thatís just the way itís going to be because we have such a powerhouse Ė theyíre an ignorant powerhouse Ė but because theyíre right there, itís one of those things when youíre living in a house beside a skyscraper, youíre always going to be in the shadow and youíre always going to have to work to get out of that shadow. 

LE:

I think that Canadians have somewhat of an inferiority complex.

KARDI:

I think it used to be that way but now because of the Internet, and the global community growing so close together, now people are starting to get what the States is about.  Saying that all this stuff is being revealed about the States, now weíre able to be our own person and have our own identity.  It hasnít always been that way but now, in 2005 and 2006 just around the corner, I think itís definitely going to be even more in the forefront, that we are Canadian Ė we are not American Ė and people will take us for what we are. 

LE:

Youíve been working in the industry for quite awhile.  Did you ever want to give up when you were on your way up?

KARDI:

No.  Never.  I never wanted to throw it in.  Honestly, thereís times when you have to remind yourself why youíre doing it because thereís just so much BS that gets put in the forefront of the music industry. Thereís so much stuff that you have to fight against to get your music heard.  Now, itís about marketing and gimmicks. 

When I was coming up and what gave me the spark was these people that just came out of nowhere with these ideas that were so new, so raw, so fresh.  I used to love when that new artist came out Ė when Naughty by Nature, the first Tribe Called Quest song, De La Soul, Public Enemy.  I remember all those songs and all those artists and I remember not ever hearing anything like that before.  Now, because things are so based on marketing schemes and gimmicks and stuff, sometimes itís ĎWhy am I doing this again? Is my music going to get heard?  Are people interested in hearing anything with some depth?í 

But Iíve never wanted to throw it in.  Never. 

LE:

What are your thoughts about the music industry and whatís been the biggest challenge?

KARDI:

The biggest challenge is getting my music out there on a large scale - getting the same shot that an American artist would get.  What it means is that Iím proud to say that in travelling, the comment that I hear the most is that Ďyo Kardi, youíre so ill, your stuff is so dope, all you need is that one shot.  That one opportunity to release your music on a large scale.í 

Iím still in the trenches trying to get it done.  How I plan to keep doing it and eventually get it done to where Iím happy with it , is to work 10 times harder than that next artist.  While that artist is playing video games, Iím going to be in the studio.  While that artist is taking trips to Italy and France, Iím going to be in the trenches trying to get on that next project so that more people can hear my voice and see that Iím not anybody to be played with. 

LE:

Iím not a hip hop head, I feel that hip hop started out to elevate consciousness and awareness Ė do you feel that this mandate has changed at all? 

KARDI:

Yeah, I think what fuels a lot of people unfortunately is to make money.  Not that I donít want to make money doing it or that itís a bad thing, but when thatís the only thing that youíre in it for like ĎWell, I donít really like rap like that but if I can rap and make a million dollars, then Iím going to do it.í  Unfortunately, thatís tainting the way that hip hop is viewed.  Because some people are so focussed on the money and these gimmicks more than the actual content of the song, itís kind of making a mockery of itself. 

LE:

What pieces of advice would you give to a young artist that wants to enter the business?

KARDI:

Network network network.  That is definitely the key to a great amount of me and my peopleís success.  And itís not just about meeting people, itís about people remembering who you are.  You have to go out there and meet people but somehow they have to remember you.  You have to do something so that they will remember you.  So that your name will come up and other networking opportunities will come.  You never know behind which door is going to be your shot.  You never know when any little crack in the door that you can stick your foot in Ė you never know if you push that door in if thatís going to be your time to get over that hump and really be someone super successful.  Networking is the probably the most important thing that an up and coming artist should be about.

Even if itís just that one day and youíre not able to form a long relationship, learn. Listen to what people are saying.  Even if itís 10 minutes.  That 10 minutes could be the most important 10 minutes of your life. 

LE:

If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would it be?

KARDI:

Hmmm.  I was going to say Bob (Marley) but I think it would have been interesting to work with Peter Tosh.  Heís a rebel with no apologies Ė not that Bob was soft or anything Ė Bob was definitely one of my idols, but Peter Tosh Ė just the way that he spoke he was not just somebody who could talk, he was an orator.  Somebody that commanded your attention. 

When I get into my moods when I want to talk about something thatís important to me and society, I think that that combination would have been crazy in this day and age. 

LE:

What do you want people to remember you for?

KARDI:

That I was somebody who tried his best to instill the idea of success into anybody that ever heard me speak or heard my music.  I want to be remembered as somebody that was not just trying to push positivity but trying to promote the whole idea that we are more than we think we are.  Sometimes we have this limited idea of what we can achieve in life.  We have this notion that I come from here, I can only achieve this.  Or Ďthatís never going to be meí.  I want people to say ĎKardi was a person that said screw that.  I can do whatever I put my mind to.í  Really and truly, Iím nobody except somebody thatís from Toronto thatís doing his thing.  To have worked with some of these multi multi millionaires, these super successful people Ė itís not that I did anything magical.  I just had a goal and stuck to it.  I reached for it and was focussed and I think that anybody can do it, as long as they work hard. 

How does it go? ĎSuccess before work only comes first in the dictionary.í

LE:

So, whatís in your CD player right now?

KARDI:

I donít really deal with a CD player, I deal with the iPod, straight up.  I just bought Spragga Benzís Fully Loaded album.  I buy stuff every Tuesday.  I bought the 50 Cent soundtrack.  I just bought some old school stuff, Audio Two, they did the song Top Billing, Dwele.  I think I have 8,000 songs on my iPod.  We were just listening to some early 90ís dancehall on the way over here Ė Red Dragon, Cutty Ranks and all kinds of stuff.  It all depends on what mood Iím in. 

LE:

Do you have any favourite Canadian artists? 

KARDI:

Yeah.  One of my favourite Canadian artists of all time is a good friend of mine - Saukrates.  Heís so talented.  Like me, we went through all this bureaucracy and he wasnít able to get his music out like he should have.  Heís going to get his music out Ďcause Iíve heard the album and itís crazy.  But he is so super talented and heís somebody that Iíd be proud to stand up in any circle to say that this is somebody whoís representing the T-Dot and also representing my crew.  Saukrates is a multi-talented person and I think that the world needs to hear his music because itís craaaazy Ė from the same vein as a Marvin Gaye back in the day or a Quincy Jones.  All these different things wrapped into one within a hip hop way, but not limited to hip hop.  Heís phenomenal.  Heís phenomenal. 

Support Canadian talent and get your own copy of this CD Ė you wonít be sorry.  Thanks to Kardinal for making my job so easy Ė I can easily see what heís Ďthe peopleís champ like Lennox LewisĒ, as he raps on the title track.  Special thanks to Ken Witt of Virgin Music Canada (pictured right, also with Kardinal and Craig 'Big C' Mannix) and Mayday for arranging this interview.