The Canadian emcee, K-Os is an intriguing artist because of the intense emotion rooted in his music. His recognizable influences mix together to create something unique and special. The words “Canada” and “Hip-hop” do not usually go together but hip-hop is a culture that has evolved and brought cultures together. Throughout the years, Canada has exported some very unique and interesting emcees. While Mcenroe and his Peanuts And Corn crew are a bunch of skilled white emcees, some people dismissed Canada as being a novelty aspect of hip-hop that will never dominate the culture like the South recently has. Still, the true hip-hop lovers who seek out interesting and new music cannot deny that Canada has been the home to some extremely creative emcees. Kardinal Offishall brought a reggae-influenced style. Who can forget Tom Green? Before his show or Drew Barrymore, the wild Canadian first got down with Organized Rhyme and MC Face. Choclair, Kid Koala, Masia One, E-Dot, The Oddities, and Saukrates all hail from Canada. They have gained critical acclaim and solid respect. While not extremely well known, K-Os has the potential to be one of Canada’s greatest hip-hop artists. Some may compare him to Wyclef because he plays guitar, uses live instrumentation, works with a band, and sings. Comparisons aside, K-Os has proven his individuality. His debut album “Exit” was a stellar mix of solid boom-bap hip-hop and soulful singing. “Superstar Part Zero” was an extremely energetic song with lightning fast flows, intelligent lyrics, and a catchy hook. Other songs like “Heaven Only Knows” and “Patience” left a lasting impression on listeners. In 2004, K-Os returns with his sophomore LP “Joyful Rebellion” which once again creates his own little space in the ever-changing world of hip-hop. Like Wyclef, Bob Marley is a major influence in the music of K-Os. On “Joyful Rebellion”, influences of Michael Jackson are evident too. While “Exit” was an intelligent and unique album, “Joyful Rebellion” goes even further into expressing the individuality and intensity of K-Os.
Like the debut K-Os album, there are songs that are rich in emotion, spirit, and a love of hip-hop innovation. The first song to instantly capture the heart and mind of the listener is “The Love Song”. The atmospheric synth melodies mixed in with the violins and cellos make the song a truly unique emotional experience. A soundscape of rhythm and melody is created. K-Os can change lanes of soulful singing to powerful rhyming with grace. His verse truly stands out: "...Contrary to popular belief / This is not a love song, it's a sonnet / Damn it feels good to have people up on it / But, I'm just a fool playing with the master's tools / Learning how to break the rules of this record company pool / Hallucination, I see with my eyes / But my heart is telling me lies, why do I fantasize? / Why am I telling lies to the people from the stage? / Pretending it's all good when inside there's fire and rage / 'cause I can't understand, how a man lives off the life of another man / Try to pimp the universe — that's a joke / I stay rocking the boat down to my last note / It's murder she wrote, assassination vocabulary / I see your termination is heavily necessary / I should have known, they do it for funds alone / I do it to break the walls, if I fall off let me know people..." While it may not be a single or a big hit, “The Love Song” will remain a classic K-Os track. “Crabbuckit” is a very upbeat and jazzy track that has a very similar stand-up bass line to “The Lovecats” by The Cure. The excellent old-school of “B-Boy Stance” has samples of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” and Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without A Pause”. While both samples have been over-used in hip-hop, the fresh approach of his delivery and lyrics give the track a whole new life. Another well-done straight hip-hop track is the extremely short “Clap Ur Hands”.
K-Os experiments with a more soulful side of his musical art form. His previous album, “Exit” did have the emcee singing but “Joyful Rebellion” goes even further into this territory. Right from the first track, “Emcee Murdah”, the Spanish acoustic guitars tell the listener that this is not your average hip-hop album. The second track, “Crucial” has a thick rock beat that uses live drums and electric guitars. Musically, “The Man I Used To Be” sounds very similar to Michael Jackson. K-Os sings, “…I tried it / I couldn’t fight it / I just want to get back to me!…” He even does the signature Michael Jackson “Whooo-hooo!” All of these different styles are executed extremely well. The quite and beautiful “Hallelujah” is a brilliant example of his soulful style over acoustic guitars. It is not a rap song. It is an acoustic rock song that holds a hip-hop spirit. K-Os sings, “Hallelujah! Babylon has fallen!” in the chorus. The song feels like it is the soundtrack for a film where the characters finally reached a happy ending after a long, hard journey.
“Joyful Rebellion” shows a much more mature and introspective K-Os. His honesty and passion for music give the LP an element of beauty. Even though “Exit” was a wonderful record, there was some filler. “Joyful Rebellion” does not have one filler track even though some songs are more instantly gratifying than others. Like a Wyclef record, there is a dazzling array of styles on this LP ranging from hip-hop to soul to rock. The diversity and honesty make the LP flow with a graceful style. Some musicians get into the music business for money and some musicians follow trends. Through his words, singing and music, K-Os expresses his emotions with an introspective vulnerability that enlightens the listener. While K-Os may not be as lyrically clever as Canibus, Mos Def, Eminem, or Ghostface, every verse is saturated with an intense emotion that the listener has to respect. Even though many journalists will compare K-Os to Wyclef, he is poetically unique and has proven his individuality with this LP. From rock to soul to hip-hop, K-Os has mastered the art of songwriting through of the emotion he injects into the track. “Joyful Rebellion” by K-Os is a revolution of the mind, body, and soul, which everyone should hear and feel.