Every Friday Logan will profile an artist you should give a listen.
k-os seemed like a perfect fit this week, because like Astronautalis, k-os pushes beyond the borders many have constructed for hip-hop.
Said Pitchfork’s Derek Miller of k-os’ second album Joyful Rebellion, “Tracking the spiritual crossroads of hip-hop, reggae, soul, and flamenco, Joyful Rebellion stirs each of those ingredients into an album that, at the very least, deserves acclaim for blending classic and often forgotten Afro-sounds into ’04’s hip-hop scene.”
k-os, a now 40-year-old Canadian, has been openly critical of The Current State of Hip-Hop. From “Emcee Murdah,” Joyful Rebellions’ opening track, “Don’t even show them your microphones/Cause then you know what?/They want to give you a record deal/And then you end up dead you know what I mean?” and later “I see them falling/Doing commercials and balling…Money and fame could lead to emcee murder.”
This is a different kind of rap diss. It’s something akin to dismissing his competition out of hand based on a perceived lack of intelligence and integrity, rather than based on the actual disagreement about hip-hop aesthetic. It’s k-os’ big talk that’s also makes him a target.
When some critics felt k-os’ follow up albums to Joyful Rebellion were more repetition, rather than exploring new sonic territory, they let him know it. k-os: the big talker who’s more one-note philosopher than hip-hop prophet.
On his soul track “The Rain,” listeners hear a wounded k-os, “We keep chasing dollars/It’s making me holler/I just don’t know/I don’t need a check/I need some respect,” but later, he’s re-ups his defiance, “You can try to hate/Classify and mark your rate down/But I’m here to elevate/I’ll be floating in outer space now.”
k-os is trying to be different. He won’t go in history has the beginning of something new—he’s not Rakim, nor Marvin Gaye—but he has and still is creating exciting music. While his follow-ups to this point haven’t produced the watershed of Joyful Rebellion, his skill at melting down and combining genres into some stronger hip-hop alloy is a joy every listen.
k-os’ next album, Black on Blonde, is set for release January 29.
“The Dog is Mine” (first single from Black on Blonde)
“The Love Song”