A few years ago, k-os announced he was done making albums. Instead, he said, he would stick to online singles. But like Billy Corgan (who made a similar promise), k-os deals more in grand pronouncements than subtle statements. The Toronto rapper has, in fact, gone in the other direction, with a hefty double album designed to showcase all of his modes. The first half, BLack, is straight-up hip-hop, and the second, BLonde, is rock.
His strength has always been his versatility: he combines old-school rap with a solid singing voice and an ability to play guitar and drums. Separating these elements is a curious strategy, though his verbal and instrumental talents still show up on both sides.
BLack makes a few awkward appeals to pop radio, though tracks featuring Black Thought (of the Roots), Metric's Emily Haines, Saukrates, Shad and, um, Corey Hart look forward rather than back. And on BLonde, fuzz rocker The Dog Is Mine and the Sebastien Grainger-featuring Surf's Up sound more spontaneous and immediate than most of what k-os has done since breaking out with Crabbuckit.
Top track: The Dog Is Mine