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.