On his previous album, Joyful Rebellion
, Canadian rapper K-os shouted defensive lyrics such as "Hip-hop is not dead; it's the mind of the MC." That particular line got him in trouble with some critics, who saw the Toronto lyricist as a preachy preacher's kid proselytizing the masses. And K-os actually is
a preacher's kid; he grew up a Jehovah's Witness, and his raps have a sometimes abrasive touch of fire and brimstone. But after a two-year sabbatical, he seems to have set his personal gripes aside. Atlantis: Hymns for Disco
combines a variety of styles that strain the definition of hip-hop, including rock, soul, dub and folk. (It's a welcome change to hear him include more singing.) For "Mirror in the Sky," K-os's lyrics are comical, introspective, bold and personal. "Sunday Morning" is the album's best tune, with its catchy chorus and rock & roll attitude and that's where Disco
has an advantage. Most of his fans already know the man can rap, but the indie-rock instrumentation behind songs such as "Born to Run" is a signal that Canada's most popular MC isn't as fixated on hip-hop as critics think he is. As for the lyrical lectures, his approach is more suave this time and the result is an album that's as unassuming as it is powerful.