I once read in a review of k-os’s 2009 record, Yes!, that the album is the closest thing to the definitive ‘sound’ of Toronto. I can agree with that statement, however, I believe that it can be applied to all of his music just as easily. k-os, AKA Kevin Brereton, a Trinidadian-Canadian hailing from (where else) Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has gained a considerable following up North, starting out as an underground rapper back in the early ’90s and subtly refining his sound to the point where his music is unclassifiable, genre-wise. As a guitar and piano virtuoso, along with a backing band and a good dose of samplers, turntables and beat machines, k-os has crafted a unique sound. His music, much like the wonderful city of Toronto, is a melange of diverse styles and cultures. He toys with genres, playing flamenco, indie rock, electronica, jazz, reggae, and of course, hip-hop. As well, his numerous references to T-dot hotspots and the pride for his city provides a refreshing perspective from the typical NY/West Coast/Dirty South/Midwest talk that dominates US rap. As a Canuck myself, k-os’s music is what I add to the playlist for when I want to go home without actually getting on the plane (or shelling out ridiculous prices for a ticket). Believe me when I say he’s one of my all-time favorite artists, and never fails in providing entertaining, danceable, and fully unique music.
Now, with 5 strong albums (plus one really solid mixtape) in his discography it’s tough to choose just one joint to introduce you . Each record presents a different side to the k-os, with his earlier works like his 2002 debut Exit and 2004’s Joyful Rebellion being more hip-hop slanted with forays into unfamiliar territory while later records like 2006’s Atlantis, Yes! (my personal fave) and last year’s BLack on BLonde delve deep into the hybrid of rock and pop, but this particular listen from Exit has remained a treasured listen for me for over a decade now. “Follow Me” is a highlight, as k-os puts his guitar skills to use in a deft, flamenco-infused jam. This track is a work of beauty, with the strings, the swift guitars and claps as k-os and guest Red 1 (of the Vancouver rap group Rascalz) rhyme about saving hip-hop and restoring peace and order to the world. It’s a great, great listen.