Exclusive: k-os Reveals What He Did For Kanye West, Names Bob Dylan 'Original MC'

k-os evokes a a spirit of the none ghetto American dream. Perhaps that's because the rapper-songwriter-producer - born Kevin Brereton - is Canadian, just like Drake who he's toured with extensively. The multi-talented, twice-Platinum k-os' awards read like a rap sheet for accolades. He has won a Source Award, multiple Juno and Much Music Video Awards (with a staggering combined 34 nominations!), and is Grammy-nominated for his collaboration with The Chemical Brothers on their single “Get Yourself High.” His new album, BLack on BLonde, sees a more personal side of the artist. VIBE talks with k-os (originally an acronym for 'Kevin's Original Sound') to take a closer look at his new album, what it represents and how its message can influence today's modern rappers, including Kanye West.


VIBE: Describe your sound at this very moment?
k-os:"In the Ghetto" of the mind thoughts are thugged out, while the intellect remains sedated and drugged out, "Like A Virgin", touched for the first and last time, such is the state of a man observing his own mind.

You’ve said that your most recent album, BLack on BLonde, reflects all facets of your entire being. Can you elaborate on this a bit more. Is it the album’s music or message that represents you?
I was born to immigrant parents from the West Indies in Canada, but my whole life was surrounded by white people and suburban life. At some point I had to realize and be OK with the fact that as much as I love UGK, Andre3k and Nate Dogg (RIP), I am not from an American Ghetto. That realization helped me investigate how Rock n' Roll influenced me growing up as a teenager, then it behooved me to present those punk sensibilities side-by-side with my hip-hop roots in a double album format. This new-found freedom allowed me to present a full reflection of my entire musical being as opposed to just posing as a 'person from America', which is what a lot of Canadians do to succeed in the world of entertainment.

Could you also explain the meaning behind the album’s title?
It's basically a nod to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde double album title. Bob Dylan is my hero and favorite artist of all time. I believe him to be a prophet and one of the first emcees or rappers in America's musical history as shown here:

I was also striving to be one of the first hip-hop artists to say 'hey, look how in touch I am with my inner Rock n' Roll white person!' implying subversively that being a black human or a blonde human or whatever is REALLY not that dissimilar...just more at the opposite ends of a spectrum where stereotypes exist. So lets CRUSH those stereotypes MUSICALLY...NOW!

A little fun fact about the album was that it was produced in Hayden Christensen’s deserted Laurel Canyon mansion. Was was the weirdest or most interesting thing you came across while being there?
Shenae Grimes.

You also collaborated with the Chemical Brothers in the past. What was it like working with them?
Their London studio was like a lab, and their engineer was this red headed dude with Einstein hair. There were wires coming in and out of vintage equipment I had never seen, and it was just as 'chemical' as i expected it to be. Tom Rowlands remains one of the biggest influences on my production style as far as loud clear drums and thumping basslines. He was also the first person I worked with to come into the vocal booth with me to show me EXACTLY what he was talking about; for that I respect him to the maximum!

What other electronic music producers would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Girl Talk. I e-mail him every three months to remix a track, but dude is so busy ALL the time - for example he will reply to me real qwik like, 'yo!! corey hart rules...way behind on a ton of things'. Just one line replies and that's it. However, I am very confident he and I will work together in the future! Calvin Harris is also a mate of mine - we have tried to work together before, but could not find the time. I also love Mantronix.

What direction do you hope to take your sound/music from now on?
All in all, I just wanna make the flossy/stunty/facile rapper embarrassed or insecure when they hear my music, not because I want to hurt them, but because I want to use the opportunity of cultural freedom I had growing up in Canada to push the parameters of hip-hop to its limits. For me that entails making art that forces or inspires other artists to check their motives and make something more interesting and original. I did that for Kanye...ask him.

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Billionaire Robert F. Smith Will Also Cover Parents’ Loans In Morehouse College-Debt Plan

In May 2019, Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019 not only received the gift of their degrees, but also a unique opportunity to enter society debt-free. During his commencement speech, billionaire and owner of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith announced his pledge to cover each student’s loans, and now their parents will be able to get in on the life-changing gesture.

According to Bloomberg, Smith will pay off the federal loans taken by the students’ parents, adding to a $34 million tab. Private student loans gifted by the college, and federal and state loans will be covered under Smith’s plan.

Morehouse's president, David Thomas, said this action will hopefully inspire the recipients to follow in Smith's footsteps. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.” The HBCU aims for the plan of action to be completed by 2020.

For Smith, with a reported net worth of $6 billion, his vision through this program aims to inspire other colleges and universities to take a charge against this country's student debt crisis and “to receive gifts from alumni and other supporters that can offset the burden of student loans and give students the freedom to pursue their dreams, the capital to invest in the economic growth of their families and the time that they can give back meaningfully to strengthening their communities.”

According to Forbes, U.S. federal student loan debt has totaled over $1.5 trillion.

Wow! Billionaire Robert F. Smith surprises Morehouse graduates by announcing his family will eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019 with a grant. #PayItForward #HBCU pic.twitter.com/lbZmttSsB6

— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) June 10, 2019

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DMX Reportedly Signs New Deal With Def Jam

DMX has signed a new deal with Def Jam Records, bringing him back to the label that distributed his early albums and classic singles. According to AllHip-Hop, X re-linked with the record label over the summer and is set to drop a Christmas album, DMX-Mas, either later this year, or in 2020.

X dropped his quadruple platinum debut album, It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, via Def Jam/Ruff Ryders Records in 1998. He went on to release four more album under the label including, his triple platinum sophomore LP, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, followed by ..And Then There Was X, the latter of which became his most successful studio album selling five million copies in the U.S. alone.

X, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, is one of hip-hop’s best-selling artist with just over 17 million records sold, but like many other recording artist, the beloved MC hit more than a few bumps over the years. The 48-year-old Yonkers native has endured money struggles and a very public battle with sobriety that played a part in his returns trips to jail. He was most recently released from custody this past January, after serving a year in prison for tax evasion.

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J. Cole Says He Won't Be Doing Anymore Guest Features

Don’t expect to hear a J. Cole guest verse on songs for other artists. Cole recently blessed tracks like Young Thug’s “The London” and 21 Savages “A Lot,” but the North Carolina born rhymer says that he’s done making guest appearances after the release of his biggest feature yet: Gang Starr’s “Family and Loyalty.”

Naturally, the “Middle Child” rhymer was honored and elated to be featured on the track, and working with DJ Premier might be the perfect way to bow out of the features game. “This is the last feature you’ll hear from me,” Cole tweeted Friday (Sept. 20). “Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run.”

This a honor to be on this song. NEW Gang Starr 🤯🤯🤯🤯 💎💎💎💎

This is the last feature you’ll hear from me. Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run. 🙏🏿@REALDJPREMIER This song a classic, thank you. RIP GURUhttps://t.co/MMBI5Z2Fcq

— J. Cole (@JColeNC) September 20, 2019

“Family and Loyalty,” marks the first new single from Gang Starr in 16 years, and reacquaints us with the lyrical genius of Guru, who died from cancer in 2010.

As for Cole, the Grammy-nominated rapper has a lot on his plate between his solo career and the Dreamville Records imprint. The label boasts a star-studded roster that includes Bas, Cozz, Omen, EarthGang, and the incomparable Ari Lennox. The collective released their third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, earlier this year.

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