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Beats Per Millennium - Kardinal Offishall: Not 4 Sale

Kardinal Offishall: Not 4 Sale

When Akon isn’t busy guest singing on half the Hot 100, or trying to take it easy with Young Jeezy, he is out looking for new talent for his Konvict Muzik record label (I thought it would be cute to spell record with a “k” but my spell check corrected it for me.) And who better to sign to a misspelled record label than a Canadian rapper going by the name of Kardinal Offishall.

I think that I keep a fairly open mind when it comes to music but I don’t mind admitting that I am guilty of pre-judging Kardinal Offishall based on his name. After listening to Not 4 Sale I found myself pleasantly surprised. But I still can’t really bear the name so from here on out he will be referred to as KO.

KO has actually been in the game for quite a while. He released his first album in 1997 and his 2001 sophomore effort, Quest for Fire, made him a relatively well-known name in Canadian rap. But his aspirations of breaking through to American audiences may have found legitimacy in his relationship with Akon.

KO’s move to Konvict Muzik almost assures that Not 4 Sale will be his most successful album to date. It also means that he had to introduce himself to the mainstream with “Dangerous.” The album’s first single features Akon and a video where KO parties with the likes of DJ Khaled. The song is typical Top-40 fare with KO and Akon alerting listeners that some girls are in fact dangerous. The song is unexceptional, but when it was released last spring it climbed to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 so Akon was able to work his magic with his new artist.

Thankfully, Not 4 Sale’s hit single is not indicative of the album’s sound. KO’s style of rap is blended with dancehall and reggae and he pulls it off fairly well. The end result is a hybrid sound that reflects his Jamaican-Canadian upbringing.

Not 4 Sale is equal parts politically conscious rabble rousing and danceable club music. He sweet talks on “Nina” and spits fire on “Ill Eagle Alien.” He may not be the most talented artist at any particular style, but he brings them together in a way that seems to have eluded many American rappers who are either too concerned with their paper or too concerned with dismissing rappers who are too concerned with their paper. KO shows that the revolution can be fun.

The album features a variety of mainstream rap and pop guests, including the obligatory Akon and T-Pain tracks. Clipse drop by to add a couple verses to “Set it Off,” the second single, returning the favor for KO’s verse on the Neptunes’ remix of “Grindin’.” But the most successful guest spot goes to Rihanna, who sings the chorus of the reggae classic, Blondie-popularized, “Tide is High,” on “Numba 1 (Tide is High).” Her voice blends beautifully with the track and KO’s verses are one more demonstration of his ability to work with a wide range of styles.

Posted by Mike Denslow at Sep 10, 2008 11:20 AM