By Kaleem Khan
December 12, 2015
CALGARY — Canadian alt-rapper k-os took the stage Saturday night to support his sixth studio album Can’t Fly Without Gravity. The rapper has been a household name for years, with a handful of mid-2000s MuchMusic hits “Sunday Morning,” “Man I Used To Be,” and “Crabbuckit.” Also on the bill was multi-talented, New York-based musician/poet/artist/actor Saul Williams, who created a sharp contrast from the headliner with his brand of music-infused slam poetry.
When recently asked what fans should expect from his live performance, Williams laughingly said, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m gonna do nothing onstage magnificently.” Promoting his forthcoming album, MartyrLoserKing, Williams delivered on his promise, presenting an incredulously minimal stage setup consisting of nothing but a microphone. Presenting a full set of powerful spoken word pieces and a cappella versions of his recordings, Williams delivered an emotionally explosive experience for fans and new listeners alike. Williams crafted his set to prove his integrity as a revolutionary innovator and artist.
k-os took the stage shortly after, with a live drummer, guitarist, DJ and hype man. Performing old fan favourites and new tracks from his recently released album, he also infused a number of covers of popular artists including Kanye West, Biggie Smalls, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. After only performing four songs, k-os took an unexplained break in his set, losing momentum and leaving the audience confused. As k-os left the stage, his hype man attempted to sustain the hungry crowd’s energy, but the situation felt awkward and (dare I say) chaotic.
k-os has spent much of his career commenting on the state of hip-hop, and its obsession with money, fame and violence. He is a skilled and seasoned performer, whose earlier albums were bold and earnest with unmatched integrity — not unlike Saul Williams. Though the two artists have been involved with music for roughly the same amount of time, k-os has lost the vitality that made him initially appealing. With unprofessional stage presence and even referencing the same artists he may have once been critical of, k-os has come full circle. Maybe he’s just not the man he used to be.AB, Alberta, k-os, Saul Williams, The Gateway