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So, this may be the most Canadian song of 2013.

It’s called ‘Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins) and it’s the brand-new single and video from Canadian rapper Shad, in anticipation of his new record Flying Colours. In it, he impersonates his ‘uncle’ rapping, crashes a domino game, references the Fugees, calls for reparations to First Nations, relates the family immigration story, shows some 70s slides and gives a belly-zerbert to a baby.

Oh, and there’s a lot of dancing. It’s exuberant and joyful and awesome.

Shad has released three great records since his self-made, radio-talent-competition-funded debut in 2005, and his last one TSOL finally got him some of the attention he rightly deserves – after a couple of nominations for the Polaris Music Prize (in 2008 and 2010) he won the Juno for Rap Recording of the Year in 2011 (beating out Drake).

But I think the new record Flying Colours is gonna be the thing. The first single ‘Stylin’ came out last month and it’s killer. But the track released today — ‘Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)’ — just makes me grin. Produced by Skratch Bastid, it’s got bright African guitar samples (maybe Kenyan?) a joyous dancing bass line and … Shad’s cameo as an elderly ‘uncle’ on the dancefloor. So fun.

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Here’s a note from Shad on the making of the video:

Working on Flying Colours in the city of Toronto offered a daily reminder of the diversity of stories in our midst. This diversity is often and rightly celebrated, but the innumerable stories that comprise our treasured multiculturalism here in Canada can also hold a lot pain, as well as some complicated questions around what it means to succeed, and what it means to belong.

As I started writing and reflecting on the different joys and struggles within our stories, I was reminded of the community parties we had with other families who arrived in London, On from East Africa when I was growing up. I thought about the fun we had as kids and the various difficulties that our families encountered over the years.

I wanted to make something to celebrate some of that; a throwback to our old fam jams, and a toast to the trials and triumphs of many. The video features some of my “cousins” (not real cousins but… you might know what I mean), some of whom I first met at those old community parties. I’m proud to say we’re mostly grown up now; a few even have kids of their own who also appear in the video. 

Hope you enjoy,

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And I sure do love the shoutout, musical and lyrical, to the Fugees here:

“Don’t turn away the stateless/Think of the waste/If one in three reFugees/Is a Lauryn Hill…”

You can pre-order Flying Colours here. Rapgenius posted the lyrics to ‘Fam Jam (fe Sum Immigrins)’ here. And here’s Shad a few years back, freestyling for Exclaim! mag in Trinity-Bellwoods Park in Toronto:

Shad kicks off his fall tour next week in support of Flying Colours – starting with a Friday night mainstage gig at the Ottawa Folk Festival; additional Canadian (and American) dates below.

And look how awesome – in addition to big halls like Toronto’s Opera House and Montreal’s Théâtre Corona, he’ll be hitting some great small venues, like The Casbah in Hamilton, The Red Dog in Peterborough and Amigo’s in Saskatoon.

Sept. 6 – OTTAWA, ON – Ottawa Folk Festival
Sept. 7 – PORTLAND, OR – Hawthorne Theatre (MusicFest NorthWest)
Oct. 19 – TORONTO, ON – Opera House
Nov. 6 – MONTREAL, QC – Théâtre Corona
Nov. 7 – QUEBEC CITY, QC – Le Cercle
Nov. 9 – PETERBOROUGH, ON – The Red Dog
Nov. 13 – HAMILTON, ON – The Casbah
Nov. 14 – ST CATHARINES, ON – Mishun Nightclub
Nov. 15 – GUELPH, ON – Peter Clark Hall (University of Guelph)
Nov. 16 – LONDON, ON – London Music Hall
Nov. 18 – GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Ladies Literary Club
Nov. 20 – CHICAGO, IL – Schubas
Nov. 21 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN – 7th St. Entry
Nov. 22 – WINNIPEG, MB – Union Sound Hall
Nov. 23 – SASKATOON, SK – Amigo’s
Nov. 27 – CALGARY, AB – Republik
Nov. 28 – NELSON, BC – The Hume Hotel
Nov. 29 – VANCOUVER, BC – Vogue Theatre
Nov. 30 – VICTORIA, BC – Sugar Nightclub

And here’s that wicked first single from the album that I was telling you about: ‘Stylin’ (featuring Saukrates).

Helen Spitzer used to write a lot more about music. Her baby keeps really good time on the drums. Follow her.

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