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K-OS: Yes!

By Aaron Williamsreviews
Apr 27, 2009 - 8:26 PM

Listen to "Zambony"

Download: K-OS - "Zambony"

Canadian emcee and all around musical virtuoso K-OS returns with his fourth release on Universal Music Canada to make listeners say Yes!

For those not aware, K-OS is a rapper/singer/songwriter/ from Toronto, who dropped what I consider one of the best releases of 2002-2003, Exit—a fusion of hip-hop, reggae, folk and awesome music. Seriously though, this dude’s got talent. How many rappers do you know that can also sing and play the guitar? (Lil’ Wayne and Kanye don’t count).

K-OS’ love for hip-hop as a genre and culture is the running theme throughout all of his albums. Yes! is no different with “Zambony,” an 808 drum driven Rap 101 course where K-OS discusses his love for hip-hop and how, though he may be called a lot of different things (indie rock, folk), he IS hip-hop. His goal to push the barriers of hip-hop is inspiring and plays as a constant theme throughout the entire album.

K-OS chose to use a lot of different sounds on this album. On “Eye Know Something,” the song starts with hard-hitting, trunk rattling drums and shouts that permeate modern day radio. However, just when the song seems like a generic radio ballad, it morphs into a dance-infused track, with his vocals clashing against the background of Canadian singer Becky Ninkovic.

"4, 3, 2, 1"

My only gripe with this album is, at times, the music can be all over the place. I appreciate him pushing his envelope of sound but on songs like “Astronaut” and “Mr. Telephone Man,” though fantastic from a production standpoint, listening seems more time-consuming than enjoyable. I appreciate K-OS' affinity for layered sounds but I found myself just trying to understand what the song/sound was conveying. This can leave the listener frustrated and not wanting to listen to the rest of song. Sadly, some of the album’s best moments clock in at three to five minutes after the song begins.

What I appreciate the most about this album is that K-OS creates so many catchy and soul-filled joints that I still wonder why this dude hasn’t blown up. “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” contains all the ingredients for success: a catchy melody, a recognizable sample (Phantom Planet’s “California”) and fantastic rapping and singing. Furthermore, this is the first time a guest rapper joins him (Saukrates is the guest emcee. Get on him if you don’t know). The follow up track, “4 3 2 1,” which was the first single released, samples Pharcyde and keeps in step with the album’s dance-mode antics, reminding listeners that hip-hop can still be fun (peep the video to see what I mean).

The album closes with “The Avenue,” a love ballad to hip-hop where K-OS laments: “I don’t need you to say you don’t love me if you don’t/ because I love you anyway.” Here both production-wise and lyrically, K-OS bleeds his love for the genre. K-OS again shows that though hip-hop can be a bitter beast, it’s worth fighting for three two one.


When he's not messing with knobs and keyboards trying to make the next top 40 pop record, Aaron Williams can be found in the San Francisco State Journalism department, trying to write the next award winning profile piece.

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