Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Fam Jam” by Shad from the 2013 album Flying Colours on Black Box Recordings.
The Kenyan-born, Canadian-based bilingual rapper known as Shad has led a diverse life in and out of the music arena. Born Shadrach Kabango, he began rapping when he was 14 years old, and in 2005 he released his debut album, When This Is Over, after winning winning a large sum of money on an Ontario radio station talent contest while he was still in college. Shad continued both his studies, earning a business and a master’s degree, and his musical career, having now recorded four studio LP’s and two EP’s (along with a myriad of singles and mix tapes). He recently released his latest record, Flying Colours, which features his signature cleverly-playful-yet-occasionally-self-deprecating lyrical style that’s always sharp, no matter what his target.
Flying Colours’ single “Fam Jam” appropriately begins with a woman’s voice saying, “I’m proud of my nephew”, whom we can only assume, with a smile, is Shad himself. With topics like welfare, scholarships, public busses and economic inequalities to touch on, Shad manages to place important social messages into our psyche with a joyous flavor – aided by a bright plucked guitar and a sample from Jay Z, the patriarch of modern hip-hop. “Now, when you’re third-world born but first-world formed, sometimes you feel pride, sometimes you feel torn,” raps Shad. With this seemingly simple rhyme, we instantly understand the underpinning of his plight: where does someone like Shad fit? Or, more broadly, where does anyone fit? The answer? In music.
Shad is currently in the middle of a Canadian tour, playing at The Vogue Theater on 11/29 in Vancouver and at the Sugar Nightclub on 11/30 in Victoria. Unfortunately, there are no U.S. dates scheduled right now, but you can assume he’ll be back here soon enough. Keep checking his website and Facebook page for updates and for more music. For now, check out the official video for “Fam Jam” here: