Kardinal Offishall, one of Canada's most respected and best known hip-hop MCs, has inked a deal with MCA Records in the U.S.
The Toronto-based rapper and producer has been a force in Canadian hip-hop since emerging with his acclaimed debut indie album, Eye And I, in 1997. Along with frequent collaborators Rascalz, Choclair, Saukrates and others, he's helped forge a distinct voice for urban music north of the 49th parallel.
The deal ends Kardinal's long courtship at the hands of various labels. Discussions with MCA, which is handled in Canada by the Universal Music Group, started early this year.
"A few years ago, we considered signing to a Canadian label," Kardinal said yesterday. "But they weren't stepping up with what we wanted. We felt we had a world-class product that needed to be pushed on a world-class level, so we held out for a deal that suited us."
Kardinal cited MCA's innovative ideas and healthy roster of hip-hop artists as his main reason for signing.
He said the American deal doesn't mean he'll relocate to the U.S.
"My inspiration comes from Toronto. I don't see a real border-difference between hip-hop artists in Canada and the U.S. But it's my belief that the U.S. is over-saturated right now. That may be why U.S. labels are reaching up here for some fresh ears and fresh music."