NPR logo

'Flying Colours' Has No Fear Of Sincerity

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/233229428/233229384" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Flying Colours' Has No Fear Of Sincerity

Music

'Flying Colours' Has No Fear Of Sincerity

'Flying Colours' Has No Fear Of Sincerity

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/233229428/233229384" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Shadrach Kabango, also known as Shad, writes about music that's earnest without being corny. The Kenyan-born, Ontario-raised rapper talks with host Rachel Martin about his new album, Flying Colours.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When you think about the geography of hip-hop, chances are you're thinking East Coast, West Coast, probably not north of the American border. That's why you probably haven't heard of Canadian hip-hop star Shad.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHADRACH KOBANGO: (Rapping) (unintelligible) Warmest wishes of snow (unintelligible) the show (unintelligible) what I'm spitting. Oh, Michigan snow. Listen, no, I don't put on airs. I'm conditioned to blow...

MARTIN: Shad, more formally known as Shadrach Kabango, is a big deal in the Canadian music scene, for good reason. His catalog stretches from tongue-in-cheek odes to the virtue of thrift, or to earnest meditations on race handled with equal style. We talked with Shad about his new album, "Flying Colours," and about how a Kenyan kid from a Rwandan family eventually found a home in London, Ontario and a career matching the rhyme and rhythm.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: So you were born in Kenya.

KOBANGO: Yeah.

MARTIN: How old were you when you came to Canada?

KOBANGO: I was just a year old. I was a baby. I was a year old. My sister was three. And my parents were around my age but younger maybe.

MARTIN: Why did your family leave Kenya?

KOBANGO: My family is actually originally from Rwanda. My parents grew up there but actually had to leave when they were maybe five or so, because of a conflict around 1959. So they were refugees their whole life. We were refugees in Uganda for a while, everywhere basically in Central and East Africa. Then I was born in Kenya and we were still refugees at that point. So my parents said let's try and find a place where we can stay for a while.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAM JAM")

MARTIN: In that song that we just heard, you talk about seeing the stories of the Rwandan genocide in the news.

KOBANGO: Yes.

MARTIN: And in a song of yours from your first album, you talked explicitly about the genocide. Let's play a little bit of that older song. It's called "I'll Never Understand."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'LL NEVER UNDERSTAND")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'LL NEVER UNDERSTAND")

MARTIN: In one of the songs on this album, you describe your relationship with music as a man in love with his therapist...

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: ...which is kind of interesting. Can you talk a little bit more about that analogy? Are you working out some stuff when you're writing a song?

KOBANGO: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And I don't know, it's just like the easier place to go is to your music, I think. It's a safe place to go to with all these, like, dark feelings and turn it into something that we can share and something that's hopefully beautiful.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Shadrach Kobango, he performs as Shad. He spoke with us from the studios of Chat Radio, just outside Medicine Hat, Alberta. His new album is called "Flying Colours," spelled C-O-L-O-U-R-S.

Thanks so much for talking with us, Shad.

KOBANGO: Yeah, thanks Rachel. Appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.