Recognized as one of Canada’s top entertainment exports, KARDINAL OFFISHALL has made a name for himself across the globe as Mr. International, Toronto’s Hip-Hop Ambassador, and for good reason: The Soun Killa’s distinctive style of reggae and dancehall infused Hip-Hop helped to define a sound that was just emerging from the T-Dot in the late 90s and early 2000s.
A young Kardinal would began his foray into the world of rap stardom by the age of eight, rapping under the name ‘Kool Aid’ and winning numerous competitions by the age of twelve. As a young teen, he would also perform in front of notable figures such as Nelson Mandela. By the time he was seventeen, the young emcee would adopt his new moniker, Kardinal Offishall, rumoured to have been inspired by the 17th century French politician Cardinal Richelieu. In 1996, at the age of twenty, Kardi signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chapelle Music and released his first single, “Naughty Dread”, which was featured on the legendary Rap Essentials compilation album. The track earned him a Juno for Best Rap Recording. The following year, he would release his debut album, Eye & I, which spawned the hit track “On Wit da Show”. In 1998, Kardinal was featured on the Juno Award-winning single “Northern Touch” along with the Rascalz, Choclair, Checkmate, and Thrust.
In early 2000, Kardinal released “Husslin” as a 12″ single. The song quickly became an underground favourite, and was stationed at #1 on many college radio programs. Later that year, Kardi would sign to MCA Records and release a compilation of older material titled Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 in 2001. The album featured the hit singles “BaKardi Slang” and “Ol Time Killin’”, two tracks that would go on to become definitive of Toronto’s Hip-Hop culture. Kardi’s next album, Firestarter Vol. 2: The F-Word Theory, would have featured production from Timbaland and the Neptunes, but was shelved when the label folded in 2003.
Kardinal would go on to release an independent mixtape titled Kill Bloodclot Bill in 2004 with the aid of his own production company, Black Jays, followed by his second major-label release Fire and Glory in 2005. In 2007, Kardinal signed to Akon’s label, Konvict Muzik, and released his album Not 4 Sale the following year. The album featured the hit track “Dangerous”, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Kardi has been steady cranking out the classics for over a decade. His most recent video, Ol Time Killin’ Pt 2, pays homage to a track that created a legend. Tonight’s throwback track is “Husslin’”, off the Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1.