A CONVERSATION WITH KARDINAL OFFISHALL

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Canada’s “hip hop ambassador” Kardinal Offishall quietly joined Universal Music Canada in December as Creative Executive Director of A&R. FYI was intrigued and wanted to know more about his role in the company, what he has planned and a bit about what inspires the man.

Congratulation in your executive appointment. What we can expect from you in the coming months and year?

As Executive Creative Director, you can expect me to do what I’ve done my whole career which is take risks, expose INTERNATIONAL TALENT and continue to build upon Canada’s legacy and perception.

Will you continue to make appearances and recordings?

Silly question. LOL. Of course! My new single “Freedom” featuring JRDN will be out soon.

Clearly this is a big deal. What expertise in particular do you think you bring to the position?

I’ve had the skills for this position my whole career. I A&R’d every project I ever worked on. But it’s more than just being an A&R. As creative director you have to help foster new ways of thinking and existing within the business. There are some very exciting things Universal will be introducing in 2014.

Canadian Rap, R&B and soul music has a difficult time making space for itself with so much American competiton. What advice would offer new Canadian acts?

I don’t agree. It has little to do with the American marketplace and more to do with how we view our own stars in Canada. Eventually the “co-sign” won’t have to be the only way to seem legit. Also, when artists create product that can innovate and compete worldwide, they’ll have a much better shot.

Can you name some of the projects you are taking on immediately?

Ha-ha! Not revealing that yet- but know that I’m searching the world for superstars. We also want make Universal Canada the new place for stars to want to build out their careers, no matter where they are from.

Tou have had highs and lows along your career trajectory. What stands out as your greatest moment so far?

No such thing as highs and lows. They’re all learning experiences. Every single thing I’ve done helped me to become smarter, wiser, and stronger. Being able to make music and feed your family is the greatest blessing! Every day that I wake up with an opportunity to make life better for others and myself through my gifts is a high. When I start to believe in the power of myself more than the power of the most high that’s the biggest low ever.

Had you not followed a career in music what would you be doing today?

I have no idea. I’ve been inspired by journalism, teaching, speaking, community activism and philanthropy…only God knows what that career would’ve looked like.

If you had one criticism of yourself, what would it be?

I don’t set enough boundaries and stick to them. I’m too nice…

And your strongest trait is?

Determination. It’s only impossible until you do it…

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