BaKardi on the rock

MIKE ROSS

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

That Kardi, what a kard. The rapper has a different word for everything, his own slang, BaKardi Slang, as the song goes.

"Yuh duh know" means "it's true."

"Corn" means "marijuana."

"De gyal dem" means "women."

"Beat dat face" means having sex with said women, possibly under the influence of corn.

Is there a phrase in Bakardi Slang that means "Good golly, who the heck booked me to play with a couple of heavy metal bands?"

We'll see how it goes. Kardi, stage name Kardinal Offishall, real name Jason Harrow, has the dubious honour of opening the MuchLoud Tour at the AgriCom tonight, also featuring Godsmack and Econoline Crush. He's not worried.

"Really and truly with the kids right now, kids are not as loserish as the older generation, back in the day when you were either only into rock or into rap," Kardi says. "Everything's all mixed up now. It's just the older generation that's kind of close minded to the whole thing. But I think it'll go over pretty well."

Back to the slang. Kardi's new album, Firestarter Vol. 1, is full of it. Of Jamaican descent, which you can hear in his lilting rap style, he says the street-Creole style of speaking is just "how we get down in Toronto." The multicultural centre of the universe, or "T-dot" in BaKardi slang, is increasingly becoming its own little world with a unique and thriving hip-hip scene separate from U.S. influences.

Even so, Kardi's songs are meant to be accessible to everyone. There is no mistaking the message in Man By Choice, for instance. It's aimed at what Kardi calls "closet racists."

Says he: "It's people keeping their ignorance on the down-low. They smile in your face and then hold all these opinions about you when you leave. That's how Man By Choice came about. There's a lot of different stuff going on in that song. In the end, it doesn't matter what people think of you. You don't have to live up to any ignorant belief. You can make your own destiny."

Yes, but what about the sad state of the American rap scene that spits out one cartoonish black stereotype after another? Kardi, it must be noted, resists this sort of thing. Hardly any swearing or mention of guns on his record, for one thing. He blames rap music stereotypes on the "cartoonish suits" who run the record companies.

"A lot of people like to blame the rappers," he says. "But if you look at what happens behind the scenes, a lot of these rappers really don't have a choice. They have to do whatever is going to generate sales. If sales are down, they get dropped."

But maybe some of them try a little harder to "make their own destiny." That's the Offishall word.

Tickets are still available for the MuchLoud Tour, for $27.50 at Ticketmaster (451-8000).


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