Main Stage, 4:55-5:40 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to the day when MCs are rapping again,” Kardinal Offishall opines. “Right about now, it seems like people are really not paying attention to lyrics, which doesn’t make any sense to me in this hip-hop thing.” Kardinal Offishall is conscious of the state of the game, and his particular place in it. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Kardinal grew up in the West Indian waypoint of Toronto. His hometown, which he credits for reflecting “the cultural mosaic philosophy instead of the melting pot,” seeps into his music: broad-reaching, deep-running. Having outgrown the trappings of Canadian hip-hop, Kardinal is maturing into a more prominent role: North America’s next musical superstar.

Ironically, it’s questions about identity that have peppered Offishall’s career. Namely, surrounding the flavor of his tantalizing sonic brew: equal measures easy island riddim, cement-hardened cadence, teeth-rattling bassline, and vexing sing-song vocal. But how to describe this enticing blend to neophytes? Rap? Reggae? Dancehall? An intriguing hybrid? Labels don’t apply to Kardinal Offishall. Superlatives, however, fill in all the blanks: dope; unprecedented; the freshest thing you’ll hear this year.

“My foundation is an MC, that’s what I consider myself,” Kardinal clarifies. “But at the same time, I can flip it up. I’m not the world’s greatest singer, but I can sing my ass off if I need to. I’m a lyricist, I’m a performer; I hate to sound corny, but I consider myself an entertainer.”

“I don’t feel that I’m ever the same way 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he expounds. “I go through a lot of different moods and I try to express that because I really feel my music is an extension of who I am. Some days we clubbin’, killin’ it in the club; then some days are like speeding on the highway wearing a blindfold and no hands on the wheel. But I don’t get caught up in how people classify me. To me it’s a blessing to be able to shift through the different genres because it keeps my mind working. As long as I deliver the illest music, and that I inspire the kids still in their basements making dope music. The kids who want to make hip-hop that big, beautiful star it was before.”