The latest from k-os is a genre-uniting affair

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      Backstage at last year’s Pemberton Music Festival, k-os got into a conversation with Outkast’s Andre 3000 about writer’s block.

      When the Stankonia star asked the Canadian rap veteran about the status of his next album, the MC born Kevin Brereton noted that he was sitting on a bunch of incomplete song stems. Andre then admitted that his “Hey Ya” had been idle for years before the group turned it into one of its biggest hits.

      When grilled for the magic solution for saving a song, the Atlanta rap icon explained that at some point “you just finish it.” That answer’s simple profundity helped k-os reach his own eureka moment, resulting in the completion of his fully fleshed-out and eclectic Can’t Fly Without Gravity.

      “They’re good friends of mine, but they’re mad at me,” k-os says with a laugh of the handful of tracks formerly left in the lurch. “They’ve been hanging out a while, but I wouldn’t take them places. I would just hide them. Finally, I was like, ‘It’s time to introduce you to my other friends.’ ”

      It’s less than a month away from Can’t Fly Without Gravity’s official August 28 street date, but k-os is looking to enjoy a bit of calm before heading into full-on promo mode.

      When the Straight catches up with him on his cell, the part-time Vancouverite is pulling into Calgary in a recently bought VW camper van, which will bring him out to Toronto a few days later. He’s more than earned the mini vacation.

      As k-os tells it, he’s been working on some of Can’t Fly Without Gravity’s songs since before he released his 2013 double LP, BLack on BLonde. Though it highlights only 13 of the 400 unreleased jams sitting in his iTunes, they’re crammed with enough twists and turns to keep the faithful bobbing for years.

      While BLack on BLonde more or less separated the artist’s hip-hop tracks and rock-mining material on different discs, Can’t Fly Without Gravity is a genre-uniting affair.

      “WiLD4TheNight (EgoLand)” touches down with a hazy, cherry-Benadryl drip of synths and slow-mo beatwork, juxtaposed with k-os’s hopscotch wordplay. Elsewhere, gnarly garage-rock aggression and ripped-jeans jumpiness drive “Steel Sharpens Steel”, while the ’90s-vintage boom-bap of “Boyz II Men” joins k-os with Canadian mike tacticians Saukrates, Kardinal Offishal, Choclair, King Reign, and Shad.

      “Crucify”, however, may be the album’s greatest unifier. In it, the elegant swing of Ella Fitzgerald’s “It’s De-Lovely” has been contemporized as a chopped-and-screwed vocal hook. k-os, meanwhile, adopts an old-school cadence as a nod to idols like De La Soul, playfully rhyming about “Lex Luthor–ing” rival MCs and eating them like steak. The rapper notes that he’s bringing back these flavours for a younger generation too ready to forget the past.

      “I don’t want to make this song about theology, or too religiously romantic, but the thing about when something is crucified is that when it rises again—when it comes back—people respect it more. They see that they were wrong to have done that.”

      Tracks like “Hussle & Flow” mix elements of trap and EDM with vocal tics lifted from Cypress Hill and Michael Jackson. It’s all part of k-os’s plan to lift up the spirits of several generations of music fans.

      “I think music can get to a point where it includes everybody from 8 to 80, because I think that’s how music started,” k-os notes. “If you were a young Viking kid, or a young black kid in Africa, or a young Indian kid, when music came on at a harvest there was no separation. It was everybody, from grandmother to grandkid, getting down to the same music.”

      k-os plays the Stawamus Stage at the Squamish Valley Music Festival next Saturday (August 8).