Shad

Tao

Image of Shad - Tao
Record Label
Secret City

About this item

Over the course of five records to date, JUNO Award-winning Toronto rapper Shad has used an array of old-school tools to tackle modern problems, addressing the indignities and absurdities of our world through a shapeshfiting melange of boom-bap breaks, dusty soul samples, jazzy improvisation, and 10 dollar words rolled into thousand-dollar rhymes. But after weaving his myriad musical and philosophical interests into a narrative socio-political song cycle—2018’s A Short Story About a War—Shad began building his sixth record, TAO, from a much simpler concept: an image of a circle. Though, in true Shad fashion, he saw something much more profound within its basic round boundaries.

“The thing that inspired this record was this image in my mind of a circle, but it’s getting fragmented, and then the pieces start floating away from each other,” he explains. “And that felt to me like a picture of ourselves as individuals. If you think of our humanity as one whole, there’s all these different aspects of that, whether that’s work, or our relationship to the land, or our relationship to the transcendent, or our relationship to our bodies, or to our inner child?”

On a track-by-track basis, TAO examines the many different fragments that make up who we are, forsaking the explicit narrative connectivity of A Short Story About a War for a more implicit thematic framework. And where its predecessor’s intense subject matter naturally chanelled a more intense, even aggressive spirit, the looser structure of TAO allows Shad to return to his “natural strike zone” of more playful, block-rocking bops—the sort of tracks that might make you smile and snicker even as they unpack such thorny topics as race, capitalism, and technological dependency.

TAO was actually written and recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us into hiding, however, the events of the past year have only amplified the album’s sense of currency and relevancy. As Shad notes, “COVID is almost not like a new situation—it just sort of accelerated what was already happening in terms of isolation and precarity of work.” But now that vaccines are allowing us to take our first steps back to the lives we once knew, TAO’s arrival is perfectly timed for a world that’s ready to laugh, hug, and dance together again.

TRACK LISTING

1. Out Of Touch
2. GOD
3. Work
4. TAO Pt 1
5. Slot Machines
6. Slow
7. Body (No Reason)
8. Storm
9. TAO Pt 2
10. Black Averageness
11. Garçon
12. TAO Pt 3

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