Think universal health care and clean subways are the only good things to come out of Canada? Allow Kardinal Offishall to reintroduce himself. The Toronto hip-hop vet has been much respected in underground circuits years before linking up with Akon's Konvict imprint. Now, catapulting into the mainstream with the monster single "Dangerousâ€ and a new hip-hop/dancehall hybrid album Not 4 Sale, Kardinal has his sights set on world domination. But first, he takes us through his neck of the woods. Oh, Canada!
By John Kennedy
Kudos on being KING's official 2008 Caribana correspondent. How was the festival?
Caribana was pretty crazy this year. It was like a homecoming for me, because I haven't been home in a minute, and with all the crazy stuff that's been going on, there was mad love and support. So it was an extra special Caribana this year.
For the Canadian-uncultured, can you describe what Caribana is?
It's hard to say in words. If you take the [West Indian-American Day] Parade in New York and Atlanta's Freaknik from back in the day and smash those two together, I guess that's what Caribana would be. Just up north in T-Dot (Toronto). It's crazy; it still has the title for the largest North American West Indian parade. Jouve is the real-deal party that goes 'til like 8 o'clock in the morning. Jouve's got the fire truck that sprays water into the party, they've got the paint, they've got the baby powderâ€”that's the real thing as far as being true to the West Indies and the whole Carnival experience.
Can you also school us on the, um, scenery north of the border?
Toronto has not only the most beautiful women, but also the most diverse pool of women. Because when you go to Atlanta, you've got a lot of those chicken-fed women with the big asses. When you go to L.A., they always got the top shelf and the face [looking] right. But Toronto, we got women from the West Indies, the Philippines, Italy, Portugal, all around the world. So you have the best overall combination of face, physique, all that stuff combined.
Time to renew our passports!
Most definitely! And you can double check that with any artist who's ever been to Torontoâ€”they'll tell you the same thing. 'Cause on any given day, your random favorite artist is in town, and I'll say, "What are you doing here?â€ They be like, "Yo, Kardi, I got this little thing-thing up here.â€ So be careful once you come up there, because you may not leave.
Our bags are already packed. What's the difference between Canadian and American women?
Canadian women are real partial to American men. A lot of Canadian women get wet real easy once they hear an American accent. The only other real difference is that American women, they love for you to trick off on them. They're always expecting everything to be paid for, from a drink to whatever. I don't know if it's the rudebwoy culture, but most of the time we don't be spending on women just because. If I spend money on a female, she earned it. In America, before you can even expect to talk to them, you already got to spend some dough.
Golddiggingâ€”it's the American way! Since dropping your new album, we haven't seen so many puzzled faces at Best Buy. Why'd you name it Not 4 Sale?
Next to my family, my music is the most important thing that I've got. And whether linking up with Akon or Jimmy Iovine, I have a certain legacy that I'm trying to continue. I've got a certain fire and energy that I must represent at all costsâ€”my style, my culture, everything, in my music. So it didn't matter who I hooked up with or how much money they had, there was no check that would make me sway from what I'm trying to do with this music. So that's what Not 4 Sale [means]. The music is not for sale.
Still, the same formula has opened you up to a whole new audience. "Dangerousâ€ is probably getting burn at some kid's Bar Mitzvah as we speak.
[Laughs] You know what's funny, that's how I know "Dangerousâ€ is definitely a universalâ€”it's just something special. There are a lot of people who aren't really into hip-hop but they love that shit out of some "Dangerous,â€ just by how it sounds. That's when I really understood how music can break all boundaries.
Do you encounter real-life dangerous women on the regular?
Yeah, man. I've definitely had a few stalkers in my life. There's been those chicks that you're like, "Wow, this chick is crazy wild. She looks so ill.â€ After that, you realize when you start getting them calls at four in the morning, them chicks that just show up. Them chicks that stay over at the cribâ€”you're sleep, wake up and they're just sitting there staring at you. [Laughs] You know what I'm saying? I've definitely had my share of those in life. I know what them dangerous women are all about. [Laughs] Believe me.
Our favorite is Chanta Patton, who graced the mock-up KING cover in the "Dangerousâ€ music video. Did you handpick her for the principal role?
Trust me, we sat in on the whole [selection] process. I was like, "Yo, how are we going to know when the "Dangerousâ€ chick walks through?â€ We're going through themâ€”this one got a nice tail, this one got a nice rack, this one got a good face, but we needed an overall, over-the-top best combination of everything. [Chanta] came through with that skin-tight, see-through dress [laughs]â€”she basically had on nothing underneath it. Everything was sitting where it was supposed to be sitting. We were like, "Ah-ha! There she is.â€
And now she's everywhere, including an authentic KING cover.
On the MTV Awards, she was the main chick for T.I.'s performance. And it's funny, because people hit me like, "Really and truly, all she's doing is the â€˜Dangerous' video live.â€ I'm still waiting for my percentage for jumpstarting her career. [Laughs]
What about your career? Are you satisfied with a Billboard chart-topping smash after grinding for so long?
Maybe it's to a fault, but I don't really get caught up in all that stuff. Even though "Dangerousâ€ is crackin' crazy and a lot of eyes are finally open and people are finding out who I am, I'm looking at this as a marathon. This is just the beginning. I know we're used to random overnight successes in hip-hop, people who started yesterday and all of a sudden they're these worldwide names and they've got their one little single. I came from a school that's still focused on albums, performances and just being well-rounded artists. So I'm definitely looking at this for the long run and I'm just going to keep grinding until I become a top-top-caliber artist who's viewed as such.
Not 4 Sale is in stores now.