K-OS took the Hip-Hop scene by storm with his video for “Super Star Part Zero.” A vivid but simple look at the post-modern B-Boy even made its way to the top. Not since Choclair’s debut, had so many Stateside eyes been on talent in Canada. But the album sales didn’t quite match the strength of the single.
With the release of his new album, Joyful Rebellion, he once again brings a new level of stamina to Hip-Hop. The Trinidad born MC is calm and focused in demeanor with AllHipHop.com. Just as his music, he has a concentrated creativeness, even hours before traveling across the world.
As 2005 continues to link listeners with K-OS, it certainly would’ve been tragic had he kept his promise to release only one album. Get to know one of the pure-thinkers of the mainstream, and travel the depths of K-OS’ mind.
AllHipHop.com: I have to ask this, how’d you come up with the spelling for your name?
K-OS: It was a gradual thing. I didn’t want to have the same spelling [chaos] as in the dictionary, “Noun. A state of utter confusion.” I’m didn’t want to embody that kind of energy. I messed with different spellings and meanings. It’s a reminder of what I’m on a mission to do.
AllHipHop.com: I heard that Exit was supposed to be your first and last album. What made you change your mind?
K-OS: Music made me change my mind. When you have a good day, you smile and laugh. You realize that things aren’t really as bad as you originally thought. I was inspired by different areas of music. I finished a lot in a short span of time.
AllHipHop.com: Do you consider yourself a conscious rapper?
K-OS: I’m a self-conscious rapper. I am aware of myself. I believe in self-investigation and examination.
AllHipHop.com: What makes this album different from the previous?
K-OS: Perfectionism. The next thing is always better than the previous.
AllHipHop.com: On your album, I really dug “B-boy Stance” What inspired you on that track?
K-OS: Chuck D., Mos Def, Sticky Fingaz…
AllHipHop.com: Really, Sticky Fingaz? I can’t say I see that connection.
K-OS: “Slam” made me envision someone in a B-boy stance. Sticky even said it, “I’m a B-boy in my B-boy stance. Hurry up and give me the microphone before I bust in my pants.”
AllHipHop.com: Who and what inspired you when you were growing up?
K-OS: My father inspired me. He showed me that that intelligence was more important than anything. He was also a big Jazz fan. I got all of my samples for the first album, from his collection.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your favorite Jazz album?
K-OS: Anything by Miles Davis. I enjoy his music for his teachings. I learn from them.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the Canadian Hip-Hop scene lately.
K-OS: It’s really positive. It’s still small though. There are never more than one or two MC’s in the spot light at a time. There’s too much main-stream culture. It’s harder to have a broader spectrum in Canada.
AllHipHop.com: Who should we be on the look out for?
K-OS: I’m not even sure. In the Toronto are there’s the Rascalz, Saukrates, Shelly Stone.
AllHipHop.com: Is there really distinction from your Hip-Hop to United States Hip-Hop?
K-OS: We’re young, so we’re still trying to find a voice. Most of us are first and second generation Canadians. Our parents came here. We’re trying to rap, but we’re trying to express ourselves on a conscious level.
AllHipHop.com: Explain the particular style you created for yourself.
K-OS: I don’t have a style. I’m just expressing myself. I try to observe from the outside. I’m inspired by so many rappers that it makes me different. Rakim, Mos Def, Talib, Q-Tip all had big influences on me. Canada doesn’t have any older brothers to look up to, so the lyrics become diverse. I never listen to someone to copy their style. Style is self-conscious. I believe that self-inner light is my inspiration. I’m about self-knowledge.
AllHipHop.com: Your music is very diverse and you’re also originally from Trinidad, tell me how that affects you music?
K-OS: You can make music out of anything. When I was a kid, you could sit and watch someone carve out a drum all day. I used to watch them for hours. I began to do it also. You can make music out of anything around you.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned Canadian Hip-Hop, but what do you think about the current state of Hip-Hop?
K-OS: I’m more concerned wit the current state of the world. Hip-hop is part of that. As children of the world, we’re growing.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel that your album got a larger response than Kweli and Mos Def?
K-OS: In Canada, my album went Platinum. But that’s where I’m from. Mos Def and Talib are experimental. Later on, people will go back and realize how amazing it was. It will be new to them. MC’s get tired of doing the same thing. They try to express themselves in different ways. Good artists will trust in themselves. Nas does that. He expresses himself in different ways. It makes us go from the left to the right.
AllHipHop.com: What’s next for you?
K-OS: I’m doing ten dates with Handsome Boy Modeling School.
AllHipHop.com: I noticed that after “Superstar” getting crazy play two years ago, I haven’t seen that many of you videos on TV?
K-OS: They first come out in Canada. I have a few of them. They don’t get as much, or any airplay anymore in the U.S. on stations like MTV or BET, but they’re there.