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Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 is as much a dancehall reggae album as a hip-hop record, with Kardinal bringing out his West Indian background on roots thumpers like "Ol' Time Killin'" and "Go Ahead Den". Handling most of the album's production himself, the rough-voiced MC also veers into R&B on "Powerful," comedy on "UR Ghetto 2002," racial politics on the stirring "Man by Choice," and hip-hop pop on "Husslin'". And for those not familiar with the T-Dot, Kardinal also breaks down Toronto hip-hop lingo on the anthemic "BaKardi Slang". It's slick, but not in a cloying, saccharine way. While Kardinal's obviously shooting for international attention, that's not coming at the expense of his original sound. An impressive debut for an artist who has come to define Canadian hip-hop. --Matt Galloway