On his previous album, Joyful Rebellion, Canadian rapper K-os shouted defensive lyrics such as "Hip-hop is not dead; it's the mind of the MC." That particular line got him in trouble with some critics, who saw the Toronto lyricist as a preachy preacher's kid proselytizing the masses. K-os actually is a preacher's kid; he grew up a Jehovah's Witness, and his raps have a sometimes abrasive touch of fire and brimstone. But after a two-year sabbatical, he seems to have set his personal gripes aside. Atlantis: Hymns for Disco combines a variety of styles that strain the definition of hip-hop, including rock, soul, dub and folk. (It's a welcome change to hear him include more singing.) For "Mirror in the Sky," K-os's lyrics are comical, introspective, bold and personal. "Sunday Morning" is the album's best tune, with its catchy chorus and rock and roll attitude -- and that's where Disco has an advantage. Most of his fans already know the man can rap, but the indie-rock instrumentation behind songs such as "Born to Run" is a signal that Canada's most popular MC isn't as fixated on hip-hop as critics think he is. As for the lyrical lectures, his approach is more suave this time -- and the result is an album that's as unassuming as it is powerful.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Cunningham