Skiddle rating: 4/5
Reviewed by: James Massoud
May sees the release of K-os' fourth album, Yes!. I imagine the album getting its title after completion with the rapper punching the air in delight having rediscovered his mojo; his last album – Atlantis: Hymns for Disco came out in 2006.
Yes! certainly sounds fresh and is enhanced with the presence of notable collaborations: Nelly Furtado, Saukrates, Metric’s Emily Haines and The Dears’ Murray Lightburn all make appearances on the album. Unlike many of his contemporaries in hip-hop, K-os’ intent is spreading a positive message through his lyrics. In the past he has criticised those responsible for creating a negative, stereotypical view of hip-hop culture. The rapper, whose name is an acronym for Knowledge of Self (although he admitted once in an interview that it used to stand for Kiss on Sight), reminds his listeners in the album’s first song ‘Zambony’, that his lyrics are not sinister for he is the son of a minister.
The album really comes alive from track four – ‘Uptown Girl’, which borrows the psychedelic sound of the 1960s Dutch group The Shocking Blue’s ‘Love Buzz’ (the same song that was made popular by Nirvana with their own grungy version). This is quickly followed by the fantastic forthcoming single ‘I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman’, this time sampling Phantom Planet’s ‘California’. From this point there’s no looking back with the old skool style of ‘4,3,2,1’ – the hip-hop equivalent of Feist’s ‘1,2,3,4’.
K-os’ fusing of rock guitars and classic hip-hop beats, coupled with the optimistic messages behind his lyrical content, is a welcome return to a genre that has been crying out for a rapper to regain control of the ugly path hip-hop has steered onto in recent years. Having accumulated platinum and gold albums, three Juno Awards, four MunchMusic Awards, six Canadian Urban Music Awards, a Source Award and a Grammy nomination for his feature on the Chemical Brothers’ ‘Get Yourself High’, Yes! could arguably be the Trinidad-born Toronto-raised MC’s best album yet.