When most people think about Toronto hip-hop, Drake is usually the first person who pops into mind. The second? No doubt, Kardinal Offishall. But the 33-year-old rapper who released his debut album, Eye & I, when Drake was just 11, told VIBE he’s tired of hearing bloggers devalue his work and pin him against his fellow Canadian.
“My whole career hasn’t just been about exposing me, but exposing my city. It makes me mad that we have [Drake] who was able to break out from being local, into an international star and as soon as he’s number one, they try to put [us] against each other. That’s crazy to me. It aint doing nothing positive for my city.”
Offishall, who recorded the track, “The Last Hope,” off of Drake’s 2007 mixtape, Comeback Season, isn’t discouraged to hear people belittle his success and dub Drake as the only hot MC from Canada. “People who make those comments are very, very few and far between. The accomplishments I was able to do, I’m super crazy proud of,” he continues.
“I remember when [Funkmaster] Flex one time said I was the only thing coming from Toronto and I said ‘Nah, there’s a lot of MCs’ and he was like ‘Nah.’ Then the next year Drake got his buzz out. It’s one of those things that’s whatever. I’m into the music. I don’t really care about who gets credit, who’s the best. I’ve always been in this game to outdo myself. As long as things don’t stop me from getting my paper, then I’m good. Right about now, music has turned into a real tabloid. Shit don’t really make sense.”
Though Offishall hasn’t spoken to Drake since early ’09, he makes no qualms about voicing his admiration for him. “When that dude makes music, it stays in your head and will not get out. He’s very talented. You can’t front on the boy,” he says. “We’re two totally different artists, but we’re both from the same space. He aint done nothing to me, I aint done nothing to him. It would be different if we sounded the same, but we both try to invent different types of music.”
Just don’t bet on the two recording a single anytime soon. “It’s one of those things where you never know, maybe in the future we’ll be able to do some shit. But it’s one of those things where he’s doing him right now and I’m doing me. Just because you’re focused on your own shit doesn’t mean you have animosity towards the next nigga. The nigga’s dope.”
Offishall is currently recording his fourt album, Mr. International. He and Drake were both featured in K’naan’s Canadian Haiti tribute, “Wavin' Flag.” —Tracy Garraud