Season One winner Jeanick Fournier now has a record deal with Universal Records and is performing globally. So what does it take to win one of the world’s biggest talent shows. We drove out to Niagara Falls, Ontario where Season 2 is being recorded and chatted with CGT judge Kardinal Offishall.
You’re the first rapper from Canada to have a song in the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Some of these contestants could have their own firsts if they really make it far. Everyone wants to be a trailblazer, but the trail isn’t always smooth. What are some of the pressures of being a “first” or an “only” to do something and what advice do you give for how to handle that pressure?
I don’t look at it as pressure. Instead of “I have to do something, I see it as I get to do something.” It’s a privileged challenge. Having trusted guidance in your corner is key. I tell all the artists my job as a person assisting them is to watch out for them and say hey, don't make that left, but if they still wanna go left, I have to give them the room to fail. Having that guidance can be the difference between having a great career and one that doesn't evolve as you want it to.
It feels like you have to leave Canada to prove yourself and then come back to get any kind of respect or recognition from your own country. What’s it been like for you, as a Canadian who is also an international star… and what do you say to other Canadian entertainers about that “Canadian complex” that we sometimes carry.
For the music I’m most passionate about which is hip hop, you do have to leave because there’s no infrastructure. There is limited infrastructure and resources, platforms and access. And it’s not just that you have to leave and go to the U.S., you may need to go to Asia, or Europe, but we do have to leave. It's tough. Even with me going to work in the States, the reality is that until the infrastructure changes, until the boys club relinquishes control, things are gonna stay the same for a long time.
You’re now Global A & R at Def Jam, so you specialize in finding and developing talent. When you’re sitting at that judge's desk for Canada’s Got Talent, what would you say are the top 3 things that you see in someone, in a performance that makes you say, “Yes, that person has superstar power.”
There are three questions I ask myself, Is it captivating, is it unique, and is it something I want to see again.
Music is so subjective right, are you able to put aside what you like personally vs what you think a global audience would appreciate. And how can you tell the difference?
That’s why a team is important. Several times I look at Howie and I think what, that person was trash. So you really have to have majority favour to win us over. It’s the same at the label. Part of my gift is being able to spot winning talent. It’s very rare that I like something and everyone else does not like it. Usually, when I bring something in to Def Jam, they know that if I like it, then it’s good.
What’s your feedback strategy for contestants?
I’m not the same every time. I like to communicate and be as empathetic as possible. I know what it's like to be on stage and for people to say no this isn't greatest. I see myself on stage and I think what would I want to hear that's brutally honest but something that is constructive and helps me get better.
I see that this year, Canadians who have been living abroad are invited to compete. How do you think that is going to change the dynamic of the competition?
It just expands the talent pool and it’s only going to make the season better. After season 1, I was thinking where do we go from here, how do we top this? But trust, the talent has gotten exponentially better in Season 2.
The winner receives $150,000 dollars and financial advice, all courtesy of CIBC - to help realize their ambitions. Plus, the opportunity to perform in "America's Got Talent Presents SUPERSTARS Live” at Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Canada’s Got Talent Season 2 premieres on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, on Citytv and Citytv.com, with The two-hour live finale will air on Tuesday, May 16 at 8 p.m.