How Shad Is Coping with Isolation: Old NBA Games and Finishing His New Album

"If Lil Nas X and Joe [Exotic] don't get on a track together ASAP, I know nothing about the music business"
How Shad Is Coping with Isolation: Old NBA Games and Finishing His New Album
Photo: Amus Osaurus
Shad is one of Canada's most charming, likeable presences. In addition to being a beloved rapper, he's become an all-around media personality, having served as the host of Hip-Hop Evolution and CBC's Q. Having earned yet another Polaris Music Prize short list nomination for 2018's A Short Story About a War, the rapper is hunkered down in Toronto, putting the finishing touches on yet another LP. He's also got some big ideas about a potential collaboration for Joe Exotic...

What's your self-isolation setup?

I'm at my house here in Toronto. My wife, my daughter, my brother and me. After a long grocery store expedition yesterday I can report that we are thankfully well-stocked.

Are you working on any music while on lockdown?

Yes, I spend most of the working hours these days trying to edit and assemble the final pieces for an album.

What are you watching and listening to?

• Netflix: Tiger King (if Lil Nas X and Joe [Exotic] don't get on a track together ASAP, I know nothing about the music business), Money Heist, Homeland, Community, lots of old NBA and NCAA basketball games
• Instagram DJ sets: DJ Starting from Scratch, Skratch Bastid, Club Quarantine
• Instagram Live shows: Basia Bulat, Anthony Hamilton
• Sonos in my kitchen: Bobby Womack, the Spinners, Jay Electronica, the Blue Nile

How do you feel about the response to coronavirus?

It's been a lot — a lot of grief, fear, people having to establish new plans and new routines. I think folks are doing their best. Frontline workers and essential workers have obviously been heroic and an inspiration to everyone. I think our governments have done a good job controlling panic and trying to coordinate a helpful response. One thing I've found pretty interesting to observe is the responses in different countries as a reflection of different cultural values. Top government officials in Rwanda, for example, just announced that they'll be forfeiting their salaries for the month of April in solidarity with those struggling financially. I can't really imagine that happening here. Seeing the responses in countries that were hit hard by SARS or Ebola versus countries with no previous experience with something like this. Responses of more individualistic societies versus more community-oriented ones. Societies where more people know how to live simply versus places where every day life is complex and people (like me) are very dependent on elaborate systems. I think there could be some profound lessons from looking at these differences when this is all over.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or routines in isolation?

As I said, I watch a lot of old basketball games now because I miss the NBA and I've taken to posting long Instagram stories about the games. That's been a fun. I watched the 1993 NCAA Final last night, but that's too much of a bummer to post about. But this morning I watched the highlights from [Larry] Bird's 60-point game in 1985 and that might be a better vibe to write about.

Find out what other Canadian musicians have been up to under self-quarantine with our Isolation Nation questionnaire.