Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Kardinal Offishall - Man by Choice
Jason Harrow was born in Scarborough, Ontario (in Toronto's east end), and raised by Jamaican immigrant parents. He later settled in the Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood, in Toronto's west end. Harrow started rapping at the age of eight and was winning competitions by the time he was 12. Also at the age of 12, he performed live and on stage for the first time, with Nelson Mandela in attendance during Mandela's first visit to Toronto. By 1993, he decided to change his alias "KoolAid", and went by the moniker "Kardinal Offishall" after being inspired by the great 17th century French politician Cardinal Richelieu.
His hometown, which he credits for reflecting "the cultural mosaic philosophy instead of the melting pot," seeps into his music: broad-reaching, deep-running.
On his album Not 4 Sale: "I first had the idea for a T-shirt I'd made a few years ago; it read "Not 4 Sale" and had a bar code on it. My idea was something provocative— that went beyond gender, went beyond race, went beyond what type of music you're into. And people would literally stop me on the street, telling me how dope the shirt was, how similarly they felt. The concept grew in my head based on that reaction. There's energy you can't buy— the essence of people that can't be bought or bottled, and lives within them. That's how I feel about myself—I can't be bought."