Not a b-boy stance...
K-os has a new album out...in Canada. I have no idea why his record label refuses to release his albums concurrently in the US...that would seem to encourage bootlegging & torrenting & the like. It's worth noting that you can buy it via itunes, but as one of the dozen remaining consumers of physical CD's, that's not something I'm willing to do. I need discs, man!
Anyway, whenever EMI decides the US is worthy of a physical release of Yes!, I will purchase it. In the meantime, I downloaded a copy and have been listening to it all week. It's good. Damn good.
I don't really understand K-os. I feel like I enjoy his music far more than I should. Last.fm says he's my 13th most-listened to artist since I started tracking such things in January 2006. That puts him ahead of Nas, DJ Shadow, Gang Starr, and Tribe (who sit at 31st!). That seems odd, but the numbers don't lie. A track of his makes it onto just about every mixtape I make. If I can't think of anything in particular that I want to listen to, there's a good chance I'll click on one of his albums. They're musical comfort food for my ears, apparently.
But why? He's a capable MC...but he's hardly deep. Sure there are mildly clever lines, but the songs don't really seem to have much actual coherent meaning. They're sprinkled with cliched 'positive' or 'conscious' hip-hop topics, in addition to actual cliches. It almost seems like the lyrics are filler...the real stars of K-os' songs are the hooks and the music. OK, that's probably a little too harsh...but there's no doubt that the man has a strong ear for making both catchy choruses and catchy songs. There's obviously a pop sensibility in his head.
Take the pretty much flawless first single from Yes!, 4 3 2 1:
Or how about the equally perfect first single from the previous album Atlantis, Sunday Morning:
Or these two singles from Joyful Rebellion:
The Love Song:
And since this has become a K-os video post, I might as well put the song that introduced me to his talents, Superstarr Pt 0:
All of those songs seem to get inside my skull- leaving me humming melodies, singing choruses, and tapping beats with my feet. And they are far from the only tracks of his that cause such symptoms. There's something going on here...like K-os has figured out how to burrow directly into the 'pop' area of my aural nerve...hitting the receptors that crave music that just sounds good without necessarily presenting stunning metaphors, abstract thoughts, gritty realism, heartfelt emotions, etc. I'd argue that K-os does occasionally provide some of those things, but that overall his music is about sounding good. And you know...despite the negative connotation (especially in hip-hop) the term 'pop' suggests, there's really nothing wrong with that. My ears certainly appreciate it.