By Jason Herring, September 10 2015 —
Since he started releasing music in the early 2000s, Toronto rapper k-os has carved out a unique sound that bridges the gap between hip-hop and rock while incorporating a constant message of positivity. Now, three Juno awards and six albums into his career, k-os is releasing Can’t Fly Without Gravity, one of his most polished albums to date.
The album kicks off with “Snapback” and “WiLD4TheNight.” Lyrically, both songs are formulaic brag tracks where k-os flaunts his rapping prowess, first over a smooth jazz instrumental and then on top of a more modern club beat. Neither song is exceptional, but they set the tone for the rest of the album.
Can’t Fly Without Gravity picks up with “Dance in Yo Car,” a soulful track that nods to old-school hip-hop staples while staying grounded in an incredibly catchy hook. On lead single “Crucify,” k-os does his best Q-Tip impression as he deftly lays down a verse about the problems he has with today’s hip-hop scene.
The album’s highlight comes with centrepiece “Boyz II Men,” an impressive song that sees k-os team up with fellow Ontario rapper Shad. The track features the album’s most thought-provoking lyrics, as the rappers tackle race issues in the music industry.
Unfortunately, Can’t Fly Without Gravity begins to falter as it enters its second half as k-os explore his rock tendencies. “Turn Me Loose” is especially disappointing, making the regretful decision of taking inspiration from a truly awful Loverboy song.
There’s bright spots on the latter half of the album though — “Another Shot” closes off the record with a soulful triumph, and “Spaceship” is an upbeat song where k-os reaffirms the message in the album title, proclaiming that you can’t succeed without first overcoming obstacles.
k-os is an excellent rapper. When he focuses on that side of his music, he can put out some incredible tracks, but his experiments with rock music, while not bad, are far less satisfying. That’s why Can’t Fly Without Gravity is a polished and adept release that fails to reach greatness.