Shadrach Kabango -- commonly known as Shad -- is making the most of his success while still keeping one foot on the ground.
He chalks himself up as being "just like everybody," with a career built on a lot of luck. He used his winnings from a radio contest to fund his first album, and credits himself with just being in the right place at the right time.
"Being in this time with the internet, it's easier to share your music and get your message across. My success is based on this time and chance," says Shad.
He's modest about his work ethic too. It may seem like he is doing the near impossible by pursuing a music career while completing his masters degree in liberal studies, but Shad takes it all in stride.
"Music is a priority. I consider it work," he says. "It's what I have the most to contribute to right now and school is something more of interest and also something that could be useful down the road. I like the level of comfort in being able to make music, but knowing there's something else out there."
With a nation as big as Canada, it is interesting to see that many hip-hop and rap success stories are hailing from Ontario -- London in Shad's case.
"We are pretty respected all over the world as Canadian artists because the government funding has allowed us to do our thing and make music that we believe in and can be proud of," Shad explains. "The Toronto music scene is uniquely vibrant. So the people there are pretty serious about it and to even make it on a local level you have to be making really, really good music. That prepares us to succeed on a national and international level."
One can only hope Shad will be sticking around the music scene for many years to come. His unique ability to adapt different genres of music to fit his hip-hop sound may seem new to this generation of consumers, but Shad's sound is a product of hip-hop's legacy of reinterpreting different genres and bringing it all together.
"A basic core, foundation feature of hip-hop music is that it has always been music that is based on history, other musical histories, and traditions and piecing things together that's kind of unique to the artist. Hip-hop artists and fans have a built-in history lesson that comes with the music. Everybody is interested in where samples come from, who the artists are and it's cool that way."
Shad has found success with this approach, but he doesn't take that success lightly. Many artists given a chance in the music industry have become over-sensationalized, cookie cutter icons that focus on the bottom line. Shad is not about billboards and charts, he just wants to do what he loves and relish in the moment.
"Music with integrity is music that is made with intention. That goes beyond a way to make money. Music has integrity if it's really committed to being honest, brave and creative and putting those above maximizing sales potential," he says."I try to make music that is unique to me. If I put out a song or album, it's not so much, 'Is this the best song,' but is this the song that only I would make?' That's what makes the music worthwhile, if the music is unique to that artist."