Tonight is the annual gala to announce the winner of the Polaris Music Prize, the award given to the best Canadian album of the previous year, "judged solely on artistic merit". The winner tonight will leave with their record amongst the likes of previous winners Patrick Watson (Close to Paradise) and Final Fantasy (He Poos Clouds), the knowledge that a bunch of music journalists really dug their shit, and one of those gigantic cheques for $20,000.
This is when I go on record to proclaim my prediction for who that may be. And by tomorrow, if London, ON's MC extraordinaire Shad takes home the hardware, I'll look like I actually know what I'm talking about.
Shad's nominated record, 2007's The Old Prince is about as strong of a hip hop record as Canada has ever seen, and perhaps stronger than any we may see for years to come. Musically, his band (and yes, he plays live with one), fuse elements of jazz, soul, hip hop, and rock while Shad's rhymes are clever, intelligent, honest and just overall enjoyable even to those who balk at 98% of the urban music genre. His lyrics are distinctly Canadian, yet his widespread potential appeal leave us thinking that, unlike basically any Canadian MC's to date, his success may not be limited to within our own borders. Given that, the Polaris panel could (and should) recognize The Old Prince as an opportunity to acknowledge and encourage quality urban music in Canada.
By comparison, co-nominees such as the Weakerthans, Stars, and arguably Kathleen Edwards are riding their nomination on the back of records that are not only not the best album of the previous year, but aren't even close to the best albums in their own discography. Had the Polaris existed when Left and Leaving dropped, John K. Samson and co. would have had a strong case for the cheddar, but such just isn't the case as Reunion Tour is widely considered their most uninspired effort to date.
For the record, if it's not Shad, then my runner-up votes go to co-Londoner Basia Bulat's folk gem Oh My Darling, and Parc Avenue by Montrealers Plants & Animals.