Tonight in LA, our last Gen F Live of 2006 pops off with performances from Professor Murder and the gent pictured above, T-Dot hero Kardinal Offishall. Read our Gen F on Kardi from the current issue after the jump, and grab his recent mixtape with Whoo Kid for a quick refresher in what dude’s been up to lately.
Long Time Coming
Kardinal Offishall abides
By Dirty South Joe
Kardinal Offishall is frustrated. “Hip-hop is like a parody to me right now,” he says. “Things we used to make fun of, something you might have seen on an In Living Color skit, that’s the number one selling shit in the world today.”
Raised in Toronto, Kardinal is the rare MC who is respected in both commercial and underground hip-hop circles, as well as the dancehall community—and the music
he makes reflects all three. The Jamaican influence is felt in the digital dub style bounce of his beats, and even more so in the patois with which he punctuates his commanding prophesies. Though he navigates each of these worlds easily, he sees the problems that exist in all of them. “If you’re someone who raps about hustling as your means to provide for your family, talk about the family that you’re providing for and how your choices affect their lives,” he says. “I don’t know how a lot of rappers sleep at night.”
In 2001, MCA put out Kardinal’s debut, Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol 1, which featured the moderate hits “Bakardi Slang” and “Ol’ Time Killin.” As he was readying his follow-up in 2003—even releasing a video for the Neptunes-produced “Bellydancer” directed by Little X—Kardinal fell out with his label. Subsequently Fire and Glory was released through Virgin Records only in his native Canada. “I’ve seen the worst that the industry has to offer, and now I know exactly what to expect,” he says.
In the intervening years, Kardinal has had a healthy output of independent and guest appearances that showcase him as a sort of a musical missionary,
crossing the divide between backpacker and gatpacker, as comfortable opening for Gnarls Barkley as he is for 50 Cent. As a result of his refusal to fade, Kardinal has a new DJ Whoo Kid-directed mixtape called Canadian Coke and recently formed a union with Akon, who signed him to his Konvict Music imprint. Akon is executive producing his next album, Not for Sale, on which Kardinal promises real lyrical reality, not hip-hop’s fantasy based version of regular life. “We’re supposed to be the voice of the people. We’re supposed to speak for those who can’t speak loudly enough for themselves,” he says. “As the voice changes, we’re supposed to reflect that, not just a certain part of it. As artists, we define the trends, and with the streets, we set the laws. We can’t be afraid to evolve.”