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Belly Dancer (Snippet) from the forthcoming album Firestarter Vol.2 'F-Word Theory' coming soon! Watch: 56k 100k 300k

The most common phrase uttered by rap artists today is: “I’m taking hip-hop to the next level.” But Kardinal Offishall (a.k.a. Jason Harrow) has no need to make this affirmation – he hears it enough from people around him. Fans, the media, and established artists such as DJ Premier, Method Man and Pharoahe Monch, have all proclaimed that this 24-year-old MC/producer from Toronto (better known as the “T-dot”) has raised the hip-hop stakes and will continue to set them higher.

“I don’t want to change hip-hop in tangible ways, like making my beats a certain way,” Kardinal explains. “I want to change people’s thought processes and create an energy that floods people’s systems when they think of hip-hop. I want to bring some meaning and consciousness back to the music, but I also want to bring back that energy and drive that inspires people.”

After years of struggling at the independent level, Kardinal achieved his childhood dream of signing with a major label – he joined the MCA roster in August 2000. And to prove his long-term commitment to his fans, Kardinal plans to release a series of albums entitled Firestarter. His decision to create a body of work that’s inherently connected was inspired by the longevity of rap legends EPMD. The first installment, Firestarter Volume 1: Quest for Fire, will hit the streets this spring.

“Volume 1 is the match that’s going to ignite the fire,” he says. “I concentrated on creating solid tunes and didn’t make any album fillers, so this will be an introduction to all the different sides and sounds of me.

” Firestarter Volume 1 is just the tip of the iceberg for Kardinal. But he’s confident that it’ll only take this album to prove why so many associate the idea of “Taking it to the next level” with his name. Clichéd rap phrases aside, Kardinal has proven time and time again that he’s not just a rap artist – he’s also a major player in the movement that’ll be setting the new standards for hip-hop.