REVIEW: Shad-A Short Story About A War

Photo Courtesy of Secret City Records

Photo Courtesy of Secret City Records

Jessica Firmin, Music Staffer

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RIYL: Childish Gambino, De La Soul, Fashawn, Arrested Development

You’ve probably heard of Shadrach Kabango, a.k.a. Shad, if you’ve seen his award-winning documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution on Netflix. A Short Story About A War is the Canadian rapper’s first album since 2013. The album lives up to Shad’s reputation as an  honest, socially conscious artist.

A Short Story About A War transports the listener to the alternate war-torn landscape depicted on the album cover. Although the lyrics reference a land far away, they truly serve as a metaphor for modern society. We experience the war zone through a number of characters throughout the album. The Sniper, whose literal elevated position mirrors the elevated position of those with a higher socioeconomic status in society. The revolutionaries, who oppose the war and fight the system, are deliberately placed directly before the perception of The Establishment, which represents those who benefit from conflict and division. “The Revolution/The Establishment” transitions from the intense, angry attitude of The Revolutionaries to the less chaotic, and condescendingly defensive mood of The Establishment. The Stone Throwers, “vilified by all sides/vilified for small crimes,” represent those who are so disproportionately affected by the hostility of society that their own communities become war zones. The character of The Fool weaves in and out of the album, so obliviously optimistic that he frolics through the war zone unarmed chanting “they can’t kill us, cause they can’t see us, cause they only see fear.” The Fool returns again in “The Fool Pt 2 (Water)” to shift our focus from the morbidity of war to the holy, life-giving properties of water. “Peace/War” is the ultimate climactic battle against the The Establishment and The Revolutionaries, which ends unresolved. After the battle, The Fool returns in “The Fool Pt 3 (Frame of Mind),” to remind us that we have the power to live positively despite all the negative energy that exists in society.

“Another Year” brings us back down to earth, addressing the reality of poverty and violence in Toronto and political unrest in the U.S. “All I need” is the triumphant anthem of a war that hasn’t ended, preaching the universal need for love as the solution and proclaiming that “the truth is bullet proof.”


Recommended: 5,10,11,12