K-OS / Atlantis: Hymns for Disco

Canada's premier b-boy does exactly what a rapper from Canada should do: Innovate, evolve and break free of the stereotypes generally associated with the genre. K-OS seeks respect for Toronto's Hip-Hop community while simultaneously boasting of "Sex Pistols and listening to heavy metal." This would be a contradiction for anyone else, but for Kheaven Brereton, it makes perfect sense. On the follow-up to the soulful "Joy Rebellion," K-OS experiments a little further, delving into the indie-rock arena complete with guest spots from Broken Social Scene, Sam Roberts and Buck 65. Gone are the India.Arie and D'Angelo comparisons as K-OS reinvents himself once more as the experimental b-boy whose canvas is without limitation to expectations. Futuristic, block rockin' beats and deft scratching by Lil Jaz hints at Public Enemy and Chemical Brothers. The passionate, Sam Cooke-inspired torcher, “Rain,” with its heartfelt strings and soulful sentiment is a challenger to the Outkast/Gnarls Barkley crown. K-OS explains, "I could be on the TV/ in the magazines/keep chasing dollars/ I don't need a check/ I need some respect." The personal lyrics of "Flypaper" deal with how he handles his Canadian celebrity. "Sunday Morning" may be the alt-rock breakout hit--sure to piss-off purists with its guitar as primary weapon--yet it works with an infectious chorus. Raging guitars, hyper-kinetic drumming and layers of vocal harmonies carry "Valhalla" featuring Kevin Drew and Sam Roberts. "Aquacity Boy" is a soundtrack of Queen St.--the heart of Toronto's uber hipster runway. With its mash of sounds the track pays respect to the city via the beat makers, emcees, dj's and indie kids that make up its sound. On the disco homage "Black Ice--Hymn for Disco," K-OS sings, "you’ve got to be the change" over a house rhythm track. He may have been a bit ambitious on the Bloc Party-like "Born To Run," and the overbearing (9 minute), Bob Dylan-sampled "Ballad of Noah" with Buck 65. K-OS enjoys the challenge of defining "genre." In fact, he welcomes the opportunity unapologetically, redefining status ain't hood.

(Jon Jon Scott)

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