Artist Highlight: k-os

Today’s Artist Highlight looks at one of the more progressive hip-hop artists who has worked with everyone from The Chemical Brothers to being a part-time member of Broken Social Scene.

“Superstarr Pt. Zero” by k-os

Before there was Drake, k-os was among the first Canadian hip-hop artists to infiltrate the mainstream radio waves with his breakthrough debut Exit and this single. Infusing reggae, flamenco guitars (“Follow Me”), and his own singing– the album stands in direct contrast to much of what was released around the same time, and particular the usually jazz-forward take on alternative hip-hop.

“Get Yourself High” by The Chemical Brothers (feat. k-os)

This Grammy-nominated song was a bonus track from The Chemical Brothers’ Singles 93-03 compilation album. Boasting the spaced-out, bombastic beats that typify The Chemical Brothers’ sound, k-os manages to do a great job at finding a voice that matches the song perfectly.

“Windsurfing Nation” by Broken Social Scene

While it seems like nearly every indie artist from Canada during the early aughts had involvement with Broken Social Scene, it’s still worth noting k-os’ contribution which is most notable on this track. An urgent track that is emphasized by Emily Haines’ (Metric) barrage of yelps, k-os makes an appearance toward the end with a few bars to wrap up the track.

“the Love Song” by k-os

Returning back to k-os’ solo albums, “The Love Song” is a staple track within his catalog. His strengths have always been in using his lyrics for inspiration while refraining from being preachy. The production combines the sound of both an orchestra and a sitar loop, once again illustrating the increased influence of international music on his sound.

“black Ice – Hymn for Disco” by k-os

While k-os’ Yes! had the single “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman,” highlighting 2007’s Atlantis – Hymns for Disco seemed more appropriate. This album mainly stands as the dividing line between k-os’ previous mission to integrate obscure, international music into hip-hop to a more mainstream sound that edges closer to a direct rock influence. The change, of course, has been met with varying degrees of criticism, but it’s a formula that has worked very well as shown here and the single “Sunday Morning,” in addition to the previously mentioned “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman.”

“Dance In Yo Car” by k-os

While no longer signed to a major label, k-os is still making relevant music that continues to integrate more rock elements into his music, with increased singing and guitars. There’s also an anthemic quality to his music that’s accentuated due to this change, making his music all the more memorable.

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