-By Matt Graves
2015 marked the return of Toronto hip-hop artist K-OS with the recent release of his sixth studio album, Can’t Fly Without Gravity, and a performance at Nathan Philips Square during the Pan Am Games this summer. This was the third of five stops on his The Fly Gravity Tour.
The night opened with New York rapper Saul Williams. Williams did something unbelievable for his set, he recited poetry.
As he stood on the stage by himself, with no music, his poems touched on some topics that included; faith and religion, life, politics, race, gender, respect, and freedom. The performance was truly deep, and intimate. Saul also told the story of how he and K-OS first met when the hometown boy was rising up in the music scene. He also spoke about their strong connection with music among each other.
After Saul’s performance, which ended with an acapella version of ‘Black Stacey’, the crew got up on the stage to set-up for the night’s entertainment. It started with a stylish music intro from the band then K-OS appeared from the side of the stage and jumped in front of the stage to perform his first song of the night ‘Vous Deux (Denzel Washington)’. His intro was entertaining with his b-boy busting dance moves on stage, and creative with a smooth transition into a quick cover of Kanye West’s ‘Bound 2’.
Afterwards, he performed a classic song off his Joyful Rebellionalbum ‘Crucial’. The live band that was with him brought the show to life, making it feel like it was one big party. K-OS even addressed the crowd about how much he loved his new album as he enjoys the new songs, but also his old songs too. That led him to sing another old hit ‘Superstar Pt. Zero’ which is featured on his 2002 debut album, Exit. As the show went on, he sang another recognizable song with ‘Man I Used To Be’ and incorporated Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part II’ into the song as K-OS got the crowd to sing along.
K-OS went on to perform two songs from his 2009 album,YES! ‘Zambony’ and ‘I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman’. That had everyone dancing along to the songs. K-OS even rapped the verses to the beat of ‘Forgot about Dre’ and he got the crowd even more involved as he got them to chant “K!” instead of “Dre”.
Continuing with his discography, the DJ scratched the hook from A$AP Rocky’s ‘Wild for the Night’. Eventually he got into some classic hip-hop songs with a blend of different beats. The covers were from Wu-Tang Clan, to Big Daddy Kane, then into The Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Party and Bullshit’.
His sense of humour emerged with an acoustic cover of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’. It was a bit of a diss as he sang about declining a request to collaborate and “Rappers being actors”. The crowd cheered as K-OS then said “We love to poke fun at the artists we love”.
He brought it back to 2015 when sang another song from his Can’t Fly Without Gravity‘ album,’Turn Me Loose’ with smoke machines on stage. He then went into ‘Sunday Morning’ which is arguably K-OS’ biggest hit single. K-OS even teased the crowd to skip the song if they didn’t sing along with him.
Back to his latest music from this year, he provided a wonderful sample of Ella Fitzgerald that went into his next song, ‘Crucify’. K-OS did some freestyles over the beat rather than performing the actual song itself. He brought out his electric guitar to perform ‘Valhalla’ from the Atlantis-Hymns for Disco album. That seemed to be his final song of the night however, the crowd chanted for an encore and they got it.
The encore had K-OS perform ‘Heaven Only Knows’ over the iconic guitar riffs to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ a mix of rap and rock. That led him to share a story about his first record deal when living in Toronto and that the song ‘Hey Ya!’ by Outkast inspired him to write ‘Crabbuckit’ which ended up being the song for the encore. The crowd as blown away with it as they clapped, and danced along to the song, ending the show on a high note.
K-OS’ ability to perform such soulful vocals was magnificent and the atmosphere of the Danforth Music Hall was loud, and exciting throughout the night. K-OS was engaging to the crowd that even had them enjoy his funny side at times. A great show that was jammed packed with an excellent set-up. K-OS took the crowd on a journey at the Danforth Music Hall and he did not disappoint.