After four days of lively debates, Kardinal Offishall’s sophomore album Quest For Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 has won the first ever CANADA LISTENS, earning the title of the “one album that all Canadians need to hear.” The album was championed by writer/podcaster Kathleen Newman-Bremang, who convinced her fellow celebrity panellists with a close 3-2 win over the runner up Illuminations by Buffy Sainte-Marie, that the 2001 release from Kardinal Offishall deserved the top spot. Hosted by CBC Music’s Saroja Coelho, the four-day debate series is available on demand via CBC Listen and CANADA LISTENS daily recaps are on CBCMusic.ca.
“I am overwhelmed and honoured!” said Newman-Bremang after winning. “This album is a love letter to Toronto hip hop and it meant the world to me when I was listening to it every day with my big brothers growing up just outside of the city. We are the kids of a Jamaican immigrant and hearing our culture on this album means just as much to me today. I’m so proud that this album is Canadian and that it laid the groundwork for the current global music landscape in spite of fighting the uphill battle that was navigating anti-Blackness in the industry in the early 2000s. As I said on the show, Kardi lit a match with this collection of songs and the fire is still burning decades later.”
Quest For Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 is Kardinal Offishall’s second album, released in 2001 and nominated for a JUNO Award in 2002. It was the hip-hop artist’s major label debut and featured many collaborators from ‘The Circle,’ an artist collective he co-founded.
“It’s an honour to have an album that is so special to me win the first ever Canada Listens,” said Kardinal Offishall. “This album was created during a time when Black artists from Canada had a difficult time being taken seriously internationally…nevermind RAP artists! To put it into perspective, my brother The Weeknd was 11 years old and Drake was 14 when this project first came out. It was one of the first opportunities we got to put our diversity, culture, language, swag and stories on to the world stage. This is OUR story and marks an incredibly pivotal time in Canadian rap music history.”
CANADA LISTENS is based on the format of CBC Books’ annual competition CANADA READS and broadcast as a daily radio special on CBC Music from April 12-15. With one album voted off each day, the five celebrity panellists passionately defended their Canadian album of choice in a quest to find the one album that Canadians need to hear. The other CANADA LISTENS albums voted off this week in order of elimination are:
Comedian/podcaster Miguel Rivas, defending Freudian by Daniel Caesar
Actor/comedian Andrew Phung, defending Joyful Rebellion by k-os
Acclaimed author Alicia Elliott, defending The Con by Tegan & Sara
Actor/comedian Carolyn Taylor, defending Illuminations by Buffy Sainte-Marie