k-os
Exit


3.5
great

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
July 23rd, 2006 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


I apologize in advance for the length. It couldn't be helped

*Note: This review refers to the 2003 re-release, which featured bonus tracks and new cover-art. The original was released March 26, 2002)

K-Os
Exit

Unless you live in the Greater Toronto Area, and on a lighter note, the rest of Canada, there's a fairly good chance the only K-Os material you've heard was his smash hit "Crabbuckit". Well, that song isn't on the album, so let's just drop that right now. I, however, grew up in Toronto and therefore I was introduced to K-Os several years ago, when I was around 14 or 15. At the time, I didn't really get it, per se, but I thought it was really freaking cool. I sat on my couch, and out of nowhere a video by a local Hiphop group known as the Rascalz came on, and it featured not only reggae legend Barrington Levy and his onslaught of 'shiddle-dee-diddle-dee's, but a little known MC named K-Os. "K-Os? What kind of name is that…Oooooh, I get it...Chaos. That's clever", and then I basically forgot his name. Months later, is was once again re-introduced to K-Os with one of his first single, Superstarr Pt. Zero. I was impressed, but still not blown away. Did I mention I was also into generic nu-metal at the time? Anyway, I eventually grew out of it and started to get into other genres of music, particularily Hiphop. The gangsta thing ever did it for me, and then out of nowhere, I saw a video for Heaven Only Knows and with that, I was finally sold, and I haven't looked back since...

"You got Rock and Roll, you got R&B, some Hiphop. My question to you, just tell me, all this different stuff on the record...what is it?"

The introductory track, aptly titled Intro, is a soundclip from the John Salley show, and it more or less describes the entire album, but just in-case, I'm about to go a little further into detail.

As soon as the intro ends, Fantastique kicks in. The song features a very catchy very jazzy, albeit very heavily tweaked guitar part. This song gives you a hint of the style of Hiphop you'll encounter with the album, as it's more rooted in Hiphop than some of the other tracks. It's also one of the few tracks without Kheaven's sung vocals. While we're on the topic of vocals, let me get into his a little further. K-Os, also known as Kheaven Breton, has three basic vocal styles. First and foremost, you have his rhyming and rapping voice, reminiscent of Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. Secondly, you've got his clean singing voice, which is very melodic, and you'll often find it does a great job at harmonizing with itself. This is one of the main selling points for me; Much like Lauryn Hill, K-Os has an uncanny ability to harmonize. Finally, you have his computerized, pitch-heightened "intergalactic" voice. This voice sort of reminds me of Madlib's alter-ego Quasimoto, though it's usage is sparse and never overdone, unlike that of which it is being compared.

The album isn't just vocally diverse, either, as K-Os is known to explore as many genres as he can, seamlessly blending them, shifting between Jazz, Funk, Soul, R&B and Hiphop at the drop of a hat. Fans of his second album, Joyful Rebellion however, will be surprised to see the album is most definitely more rooted in Hiphop. The easiest way to go about describing K-Os's diversity is using the three Superstar tracks, so I'll do so now, hopefully it'll give you an idea of what to expect.

Superstarr Pt.1:

Superstar Pt.1 starts off with a reggae beat, and it's carried all the way throughout the track. This track can be seen as K-Os reaching back to his Trinidadian roots, as while he is considered to be a Canadian artist, he was actually born in Trinidad. The song is carried with trumpets and a steady bassline, with the obvious emphasis on the back beat. Overall, the music gives off a strong island vibe. The vocals in this track alternate from a semi-talking sing-songy voice to his wonderful clean singing voice. This is only one of three Superstarr tracks, all of which are different, so let's move on to the next one shall we?

Superstarr Pt.2:

Superstarr Pt.2 is totally different than part 1, both lyrically and musically. Part 2 is an acoustic, stripped down, entirely sung song. Before you ask, no, it's not a ballad. The song, in my opinion, features the best vocal performance on Exit in regards to singing. His voice in this song is simply beautiful, in fact, the entire song is beautiful. It's more or less just an acoustic guitar (with some occasional electric), and some drums. Right around 2:25 is where the song gets me. The climax of this, and you might shoot me down for saying this, is one of the most subtle hints of beauty I've heard on a Hiphop album.

Superstarr Pt. Zero

Superstarr Pt. Zero, the final track on the album (if you ignore the unlisted bonus remix of Heaven Only Knows), is yet another take on the track. This is without a doubt the jazziest track on the album. The beat is fairly simple at first, it's just piano, stand-up bass some drums, though as the song progresses a saxophone is later added. It's a fairly upbeat track, and vocals all three of K-Os’s vocal styles. The main verses are rapped, and once again the lyrics are mostly changed. The chorus, the only shared element between the three tracks, is clean singing harmonized several times with itself using multiple vocal tracks, giving off an almost angelic sounding melody. Overall, this is probably the standout track on the album, which is probably why it was one of his singles, though unless you live in Canada you probably never saw it on TV or heard it on the radio. The main thing I love about this song is you get to hear a lot of his inspirations on it, as it features samples from both James Brown and the Isley Brothers, and Flavor Flav. The track fades out with the repetitious cry, "Ooh, I love this girl, she's a superstar", before turning instrumental and finally leading to silence, bringing the listener into the final, hidden track.

So there you have three tracks, all rooted in the same idea, giving off entirely different vibes. In three tracks, you get your folky-soul song from the heart, your reggae-tinged island tune and your jazzy Hiphop song, all of which are perfectly executed. The songs are representative in more than sound, however, as they also represent the climax of the album. It starts off on a more relaxed note, which you can relate to the reggae sound. The final track of the album, Superstarr Pt. Zero, is most definitely the climax, as it builds and builds and impresses you, this is the song that really shows what he's capable of. It's really quite awe inspiring to see such diversity applied and come off natural, a gift which K-Os has been harnessing ever since this album's release through his second album and his renowned live show.

The album has a distinct message. K-Os is not in the music business to make money. He's one of the few genuinely amicable artists. This album was made with intent for him to show what Hiphop is really capable of, and that shines through in the lyrics. Lyrically, the album is often critiquing the cliched violent lyrics of mainstream and gansta rap. In Masquerade, K-Os comments on the idea that a lot of MCs are putting this image on to sell records.

I sit back with the microphone
Watchin' these MC's turn to actors
Producin' all the factors
That flip life, into a masquerade
We like a bunch of manakins
Battery operated, inoculated
With five sentences connect us to the Earth
Rich sinners since the days of my birth


Later on, on Neutroniks, K-Os revisits this idea, with these lyrics:

Oooh, yo come follow me, what's the definition of a real MC?
Is it looking hard on MTV?
Or freestyling in a back street all-ey?
Muhammad, it's the return of the common
I'm bombing these rappers and dropping a hip hop megatron
From King street to Eglington, we don't run
Cause when they got a mic, there's no need for a gun


As you can see, he's anti-violence and most definitely not in it for the money. He's not a gangster and he's not about to pretend to be one. In fact, he's actually a fairly religious and philosophical guy, not to mention reaaaaaally down to earth. The lyrics aren't limited to these issues, though, you'll often find K-Os spitting on topics like Metaphysics, Philosophy, etc. It's a very layered album, both musically, thematically and lyrically.

Final Verdict

7/10

Why?: As you can tell by the sheer size of this review, there's most certainly no shortage of things to talk about. The album is very diverse, in a good way, and really speaks to K-Os's ability as an artist. I mean, the idea that he can take a simple idea and create three separate interpretations of it speaks to his songwriting ability. The only thing holding this back from a perfect score is that at times it comes off as a little preachy, and some tracks are a little weaker than others. Still, fans of A Tribe Called Quest, Lauryn Hill/The Fugees and original Hiphop in general are highly encouraged to get their greasy hands on this puppy. This was originally intended to be his only album, but I'm thanking the gods he's chosen to continue sharing his talent with his second and equally awesome album Joyful Rebellion, and his as-of-yet unreleased third album Atlantis. Check this out. You'll thank me.

Stand Out Tracks: the three Superstarr tracks, Fantastique, the stringed and balladesque Call Me, the Hidden Track (A superior remix of Track 4, Heaven Only Knows).


Don't pass me by...

Baby she's a superstar who likes to dream,
Baby says to me her mind is never gonna change,
Baby she's a superstar who likes to dream (superstar),
Baby says to me her mind is never gonna change,

Baby she's a superstar (superstar),
Baby she's a superstar (superstar),
Baby she's a superstar (superstar),
Baby she's a superstar (superstar),




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user ratings (28)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
July 23rd 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fixing the weird symbols as we speak.

Rams
July 23rd 2006


31 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album is alright, but beyond "Call Me" and "Superstarr, pt. 1" nothing really stands out.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 23rd 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There is no Superstarr Pt. 1

Neoteric
July 23rd 2006


3243 Comments


Your reviews rock.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 23rd 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you!

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2006


17920 Comments


Your reviews rock.


Muisee
July 24th 2006


679 Comments


Good reviewThis Message Edited On 07.24.06

Tyler
Emeritus
July 24th 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You guys could at least vote :P

Anyways, thank you for the kind words.

smokersdieyounger
July 27th 2006


672 Comments


Really good review, but I dont like the layout. Very indepth on sound, meanings and artist info. Is it difficult to find his work outside of Canada?

Tyler
Emeritus
July 27th 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It shouldn't be too hard to find a copy of Joyful Rebellion, but you might have to download this one. I really can't be sure, though.

Two-Headed Boy
July 27th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

More people need to know about K-os. He's an excellent artist. Unfortunately, I do not have this, but I shall possess it eventually.

MrKite
October 22nd 2006


5020 Comments


nice review.your avatar scares me though.

Two-Headed Boy
October 22nd 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Change the picture to the gooder picture.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 22nd 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wha? You mean the green cover? That's technically a different release.


Anyways I'm working on my Hymns for Disco review now.

Two-Headed Boy
October 22nd 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

NO! I'M DOING THAT!
What are you rating it?This Message Edited On 10.22.06

Tyler
Emeritus
October 22nd 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You can do it too?

I'm thinking 4, but my ratings are meaningless. Mine's going to be really, really really long.

cirq
December 13th 2009


9264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn

Smug
December 13th 2009


228 Comments


Reflecting On My Past, Glimmers of Light and Buttocks Injections, Desert Winds Ruffle Your Ginger Stubble

Rgroove
May 16th 2010


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of my favourite Hip Hop albums. My favourite of his albums although 'Joyful Rebellion' is a close second.

random
July 7th 2011


2262 Comments


Freeze rules.



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