Alternative Hip-Hop At It’s Best.

Atlantis: Hymns For Disco is the third album for the Toronto based rapper, k-os (which means “knowledge of self”). The album’s original release was actually back in October 2006, but only saw Canadian store shelves. Its worldwide release, however, took place only last week. K-os, born Kevin Brereton, is well known for fusing various genres of music, including hip-hop, rock, reggae, funk and a bit of neo-soul. His previous two albums, Exit and Joyful Rebellion, clearly show his knack for successfully blending the distinctly different music styles.

Atlantis: Hymns For Disco will make veterans of his music as well as first time listeners feel right at home with its feel good songs and well-crafted melodies.

The album opens with the hip-hop heavy “ELEctrik Heat – The Seekwill,” which was one of the album’s singles. The song is characterized by extensive use of scratching vinyl, a trademark sound of the hip-hop world. K-os is well known for paying homage to the roots of hip-hop’s origins, frequently employing the use of record scratches and break-dancers in his music videos. A track off of his old album, “B-Boy Stance,” is a good example.

Segueing into the second track, “The Rain,” a Sam Cooke-inspired song, k-os shows off his dynamism as an equally talented vocalist. In a sense k-os acts as a renaissance man as a solid rapper, singer, songwriter and producer. “The Rain” is perhaps one of the best songs on the album and its placement as the second track behind one of the singles was clever, ensuring that the LP had more to offer than popularized tracks.

In the song “Born to Run,” you get to hear k-os’ rock-inspired side. The song immediately drops the listener into a drum and electric guitar opener. Although k-os himself occasionally plays the acoustic guitar and keyboard during live and studio performances, he plays alongside a live band, something not indicative of most hip-hop artists. The end of the song features an acoustic outro and finds k-os slowing the melody down to softly articulate the song’s opening: “I’m at a hot creep show/Same old thing on the radio/Who’s that coming ’round/Suffering popularity breakdown.”

Later in the album, “Highway 7” has k-os singing once more. It is such a beautiful song that you may even ask yourself if he is a better singer than rapper. He has a powerful and unique rap flow; that’s unquestionable. As a socially conscious rapper, he sets himself apart from his peers who all seem to rhyme about the same things (women, cars and jewelry), which he highlights in the closing track “Funky Country,” which is also a bonus track exclusive to the worldwide release. Even with this in mind, however, his vocal prowess is undeniable.

While the album as a whole is a must-have, there is one track that blemishes the record: “Ballad of Noah,” which features fellow Canadian rapper, Buck 65. He simply brings down a track that would otherwise be well executed, coming in with a weak flow and almost entirely ignoring the song’s beat.

Atlantis: Hymns For Disco is one of the best albums to come out of the rap world in years, especially considering the lack of quality that has been circulating the airwaves in recent times. Between the “Go Getta”s and “Walk It Out”s at the top of radio playlists, k-os’ “Sunday Morning” and “Flypaper” come as breaths of fresh air. His music is accessible by any fan of music, and considering he has two other albums of the same caliber, there is absolutely no shortage of k-os available to listeners.

This is not an album you can afford to miss out on, so be sure to head to your local music store whether in person or over the Internet and get your hands on a copy of this album. There is a reason he has been nominated for five awards at the 2007 Juno Awards, including both songwriter and producer of the year.