Clever Canadian rapper Shad isn't exactly what you call a slacker.
In between his third and just-released fourth album, Flying Colours, the Kenyan-born hip hop artist got his masters in Liberal Arts at Simon Fraser University.
This after getting a business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.
"This is my second degree and in a way I think both of them, in a way I didn't expect, shaped my thinking, kind of crept up on me," says Shad, 31, who's got an impressive all-Canadian list of guest artists from k-os to Lights.
"This one, I just got used to a level of conversation and inquiry. All of the sudden I'm like, 'Huh, my conversations are way more serious and longer and more in depth and I think that was a result of this.' So in indirect ways it's probably affected my music. Indirectly, I probably went deeper with this album."
We caught up with Shad after he launched his October-November Canadian tour this past weekend.
Q. Would we be surprised by anything that you studied in Liberal Arts?
A. I did take a Jane Austen class. There was one term where I started to play a lot of shows so I couldn't take anything on Thursday night or on Friday. So I was like, 'What's on Tuesday night? Jane Austen.'
Q. Did you form an appreciation for Austen?
A. I told all my friends and they all laughed and it was kind of this joke. And I read all the books and watched all the movies. And the last movie we got to was the Keira Knightley version of Pride And Prejudice. And I turned it off halfway through in a fit of rage. I've never turned off a movie in my life. And it was like, 'This portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet is the worst I've ever seen.' I was just so mad about it. I was mad. It's like there's a fundamental dignity to that character that she is (not getting) and I had to stop and go, 'Whoa, I'm really like attached to this book now.' That was the funniest experience I had. ... I ran to my computer to read online, like hoping to find a community of people who had bashed her at some point. She was nominated for an Oscar for that role!
Q. Toronto rapper Drake - whose Thank Me Later you beat out for best rap recording in 2011 with your 2010 album, TSOL - was just named the global ambassador for the Raptors. Would you like that gig?
A. I would love it 'cause I love basketball but because I love basketball, I'm also like, 'Drake you can do more for us than I can in this role.' I will acquiesce. I might love the game more than he does but the stakes are high. I'm hopeful that he can attract some talent. 'OK, let's do this Drake! You need to be calling these college kids!' There's actually one guy in particular who is a Canadian and he's considered the best college player right now and his name is Andrew Wiggins and he's going to University of Kansas and he's guaranteed No. 1 pick next year. So I expect they brought Drake to get this kid. Because if we got this kid it would change our franchise. He's like the once-in-every 10 years kind of player. He's 19 now. So a 19-year-old kid from Toronto has got to love Drake.
Q. How has living in Vancouver changed you?
A. I'm healthier. I eat kale now. I'm like yeah, I wish I could take photos sometimes of my groceries and send them to my sister (in Toronto.) She'd be, 'You are not my brother.' I know even about certain seasonal fruits! I'm like, 'Yes, I think the Okanagan peaches should arrive this week!' She'd be like, 'Who are you?'"