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Jamaican-Canadian Rapper making it ‘Offishall’

Jamaican-Canadian Rapper making it ‘Offishall’

Posted by Shanelle Weir on March 21, 2014

Although he was born in Canada to Jamaican parents, rapper/deejay Kardinal Offishall has always incorporated dancehall/reggae into his recordings and performances.

Kardinal, 37, is in Jamaica promoting his latest single, the self-produced Tattoo (Rude Bwoy). Though he is known for hits including Dangerous (with Akon) and Number One (featuring singer Keri Hilson), Kardinal recently took on a different role.

In addition to working on a new album, he has been appointed creative director for A&R at Universal Music Canada. In an interview with Splash, he spoke about his role at that company and his latest projects.

"Universal Music Canada is one of the biggest and most profitable companies within the UMG family. Globally, Universal Canada is a powerhouse," Kardinal explained. Although he has worked with dancehall acts including Bounty Killer, Assassin and Tarrus Riley, Kardinal would not say if he or Universal Music Canada is in the market for Jamaican artistes.

"Both my duties and interests are to discover international superstars. Whether they come from Jamaica, Russia, India or Canada," he said. "I am bound to take the best of the best and bring them to the world stage."

He points out that of all the urban genres, dancehall music is still vibrant, largely because it is out of corporate hands.

"The music has survived and retained its core element of rawness and innovation, despite the introduction of social media and other influences that have caused other genres to blend and lose their authenticity," he noted. "Dancehall has gone through changes, seeing much mainstream success through artistes like Sean Paul, Baby Cham and others. In my opinion, there is still the foundation of vibes, energy and lyrics."

Born Jason Harrow in Toronto, Kardinal Offishal first created a buzz with hip hop songs like BaKardi Slang, Ol' Time Killin' and Maxine.

In 2008, he joined forces with Akon and his Kon Live Music company which had a distribution deal with the major Interscope Records. Their collaboration produced the Billboard singles Dangerous and Number One.

His previous album, Allow Me to Re-introduce Myself, was released in 2012. He is nominated for a 2014 Juno for Can't Choose with singer Jrdn in the category R&B Soul Recording of the Year. His new album, Impact, is due later this year.

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