Kardinal Offishall on the Pantheon of Canadian Hip Hop Greats

"Dangerous," the Kardinal Offishall song featuring AKON, is currently on the charts in 25 countries globally—twelve years since its recording. It’s become a TikTok sensation. “Shoutout to all the women on TikTok who turned the "Dangerous" challenge into a movement,” Kardinal says, boisterous as ever, sounding as if he’s ready to burst on a stage. “Shout out to everybody making dreams they didn’t even know were possible into a reality.” We have a longer piece on Kardinal in the works, but all month, he’s been posting clips from his career to celebrate Black History Month—and they’ve been amazing.
“What I’m trying to do is make sure people understand we come from greatness and celebrate our own—not dick ride other countries or other cities—and not because shit looks cute on the internet,” says Kardinal, working on no less than four records as he also acts as an Senior Director, Urban A&R at Universal Music Canada. “We have an amazing legacy of dope artists who do dope shit and have been doing so since the 80s and 90s.” We asked Kardinal to give us his favourite Canadian MCs.


Photograph by Larissa O'Coin

I don’t want to minimize him by comparing him with other people, but he’s our QTIP. He’s our will.i.am. He’s our forward-thinking, risk-taking genius.


They’re a group, but they have to get a spot. I’ll give them one if I have to limit my list.

Saukrates and Choclair

Those two for sure. You can’t list indisputable Canadian MCs without those two.



Two defining things he did: change the toxic masculinity of hip hop and show you can do this music without the typical hip hop journey. Now, I love Mobb Deep and MOP, but Drake changed the way that people consumed and viewed hip hop and he pushed the boundaries and tapped into his feelings in a different way. Drake is different from what LL Cool J did. He made emo hip hop cool and more accessible.

The Holy Trinity of Hip Hop: Dream Warriors, Michie Mee, & Maestro Fresh Wes

End of sentence, no debate, no doubt about their contribution.

Kardi is the one of the first Canadian MCs to reach Billboard and international mainstream success; he appeared on Northern Touch in 1999 and ten years later won the JUNO for "Dangerous," featuring Akon, his tune that’s become a TikTok smash. He popularized the phrase T-Dot. He performed for the Queen. He recorded with Pharrell and Timbaland and Maestro and Estelle. He’s currently at work on new music. “We’re doing some stuff around the anniversary of Firestarter,” Kardinal says, “and there will be a lot of new music dropping—bet."