k-os - Atlantis: Hymns for Disco

Atlantis: Hymns for Disco


First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2007, Volume 14, #5

Written by John Metzger

Thu May 3, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT


Over the course of two albums for Astralwerks (Joyful Rebellion and Exit), k-os played by a different set of rules than those that typically have defined the hip-hop game. By questioning the images typically projected by the genre, he attracted almost as many critics as he did fans, but failing to find his footing in the U.S. market, k-os wisely took a different approach to recording his latest effort Atlantis: Hymns for Disco. In essence, he ambitiously set out to change the game completely.

Spiraling outward from Dirty Water, a collaboration with fellow Canuck Sam Roberts that was featured on Joyful Rebellion, k-os turned his attention, at least in part, away from saving hip-hop culture from its corrosive self in order to focus upon the problems facing the world at large. Although hip-hop and rap continue to be his touchstones, the subject matter of his songs has crossed into terrain that once was tread by Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. His many allusions to water as well as Atlantis: Hymns for Disco’s title certainly aren’t accidental, and the overriding theme is one that, at its core, merges Baptist-imbued Christianity with the positive vibrations of Rastafarian ideals and hippie-imbued spirituality in order to push society toward the tipping point of change before it is too late. Buried within this are more personal ruminations that not only lend a sense of humility to the set, but also make the point that global shifts in perspective begin with self-examination.

Musically, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco is just as all-inclusive. Sam Roberts returns to make a guest appearance on Valhalla, a song that finds common ground among Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Jane’s Addiction. Before the Prince-ly Born to Run can fade away, it is stripped bare until all that is left is a quietly reflective folk refrain. Elsewhere, the opening riff from the classic Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller tune Jailhouse Rock is used on Equalizer as a means of bridging the generational and cultural gaps, while on The Rain, which is, by far, the best cut on the endeavor, k-os takes the moodiness of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You and sings lyrics drawn from Marvin Gaye in a vocal style that is akin to Sam Cooke. Although Atlantis: Hymns for Disco is neither as revolutionary nor as experimental as it has been made out to be, k-os has shown that he has the sort of maturity, artistic growth, and understanding of his predecessors that, together, inevitably will lead to greater accomplishments down the road. starstarstar

Atlantis: Hymns for Disco is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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