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New order for K-OS

Passionate hip hop artist to preview new material alongside favourite hits for local crowd

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Who: K-OS

When: Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 p.m.

Where: Garfinkel’s

Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

Known to friends, family and colleagues as Kevin Brereton, hip hop fans are far more likely to recognize the name, K-OS.

Despite the somewhat negative implications of his stage moniker, K-OS actually stands for “knowledge of self.”

“I think knowing yourself is more of a process than it is something that you arrive at,” he said. “…It’s a constant undertaking to be aware of what you’re thinking, feeling, intonating. So much so that some people just decide they’re not going to do it.”

But K-OS contends that his music provides him with a unique opportunity to reflect on how he has grown and evolved.

“The advantage is, with music, I can hear it in a very exaggerated way, because a song is pretty much your emotions on tape,” he explained. “…My knowledge of self doesn’t come from sitting around my house and just thinking about what I do, it comes from, ‘let me go listen to those songs I did when I was 18 and see the difference between what I’m kickin’ now and what I was kickin’ then.’”

With soulful lyrics, melodies and messages, K-OS is something of an open-minded poet, his three full-length albums, Exit, Joyful Rebellion and Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, featuring elements of reggae, rap, rock and funk, and collaborations with groups like Broken Social Scene and Sam Roberts.

Embracing his reputation as something of a musical zealot, K-OS is particularly passionate about artists having a strong understanding of self before acting as a role model.

“It may be okay to be like that sometimes on stage or in some songs, just to let yourself go, but for the most part I feel like it’s the responsibility of a musical artist to be aware of what they feel so they can make a statement on society that is responsible,” he said.

Well, K-OS certainly doesn’t shy away from making a statement.

Lyrically, Exit and Joyful Rebellion were quite critical of modern hip-hop and the industry as a whole.

“I gained success from criticizing the system. So now I can’t talk about how fucked up the system is, so I just ended up talking about how fucked up stardom is,” he said with a laugh, pointing out that that’s what “Sunday Morning,” “Mirror in the Sky” and “Born to Run” are all about.

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