He tried it. He couldn’t fight it.
Now, five years after ditching the Toronto music industry to post up in the wilds of Vancouver, k-os wants to get back into the man he used to be. Kind of.
Today, the Canadian hip-hop vet drops “Supernovas,” a tailfeather-shaking slab of disco-pop produced by Toronto electronic duo MSTRKRFT. After resurfacing in May with the gritty, Kaytranada-helmed EP Boshido—his first new music since 2015’s bar-heavy Can’t Fly Without Gravity—k-os returns to his more pop-oriented roots (see: “Sunday Morning,” “Crabbuckit”) on this new track.
Listen to it below.
The rapper says the nucleus of the song was an old demo that he came across while driving one night. The track got him so fired up that he decided right at that juncture to go back to the 6ix to make more music.
K-os now finds himself with renewed purpose and vision. Particularly, he’s excited about the state of Toronto’s current music scene, and how it’s become more inclusive than it once was. In that spirit, he plans to launch a new Instagram Live series through which he will pass on his wisdom and advice to younger Canadian artists in the game. Upcoming guests include Noah ’40’ Shebib, Chastity, and Rob Raco (who acts in Riverdale and is apparently a good drummer).
We caught up with k-os over email to find out what’s been on his mind, and how he got back to him.
How have you spent the last five years?
Toronto got a little too wurly for me, so I pressed pause and headed out West. For the last six years, Vancouver has been homebase, where I have a group of friends that keep me smiling and honest. The fresh air is sobering. There’s a lot to live up to in Toronto, and I spent a couple years trying to remember why I even started making music in the first place. Residing in Vancouver helps me appreciate Toronto and its influence on almost everything I do.
It seems like most of us have at least 21 years of real life before we make our first record, and we bring those experiences to the table. If you succeed and you’re lucky enough to be born into the public as an artist, time speeds up and you may unfortunately find yourself making music off the fumes of a life experience that no longer exists.
Stardom tends to kill common real-life experiences, forcing most to become more and more superficial with every song they write or buy. Yeh… Rags to riches is cool—but very few are willing to leave the riches and go back to the rags, where the real songs exist.
#RAGLIFE. That is the life for me.
What’s the story behind “Supernovas”?
It was a demo I made in Vancouver but I couldn’t figure out the lyric or melody till I was in a zone at the family farm. I put it away in the vault, but it came on shuffle when I was driving into the city one night.
I literally pulled the car over like, ‘Is this ME? WHAT! Oh yeah… Wow, singing is fun!’
I knew at that moment I had to write more music in Toronto, and I also knew I needed professional production help to make the song better than the demo.
What was it like linking up with MSTRKRFT for the track?
I’ve known Jesse Keeler since we were kids coming up in the city. He was the first DJ I heard play trap music in TRon. I forget where we were… some bar on Queen Street… maybe Czehoski.
He and I hit it off and started hanging out, sharing music ideas and drinking at this spot The Boat in Kensington Market. Linking up with MSTRKRFT at this point in my career was instinctual and vital. I called Al-P his partner first, though. Asked him to just lace me with the drums. Al played Jesse what I did and they called me back asking to make it a formal collaboration.
Two weeks later we were in the studio programming, arranging, and they even convinced me to cut new vocals. A VERY rare occurrence. Lol.
They knew exactly what to do. I am grateful to call them brothers.
How would you say the Toronto music scene has changed since you first started out back in 2002?
Do you know the legendary story of Biff Tannen from the movie Back to the Future 2?
Biff steals a sports almanac from Marty McFly in 2015 that lists the winners of almost every major sports championship from 1950 to 2000. He then takes McFly’s DeLorean back to 1955, and gives the almanac to his younger self, advising him to bet on the winners to amass millions.
When Marty comes back to the future it’s totally changed because Yung Biff ran the caper successfully and Hill Valley is now the city that Biff built. It’s biff centric. It’s LIT and Marty can’t believe his eyes.
That’s exactly how I feel when I come back to TRon. It’s hella Biffy but a more hopeful, fun environment for everyone.
Toronto is not as ‘secret society’ as it was when I was coming up. Now everyone feels like they have a chance to ‘blow up’ and that makes for a healthier, more supportive musical art scene.
Even if that’s all an illusion… it’s an illusion everyone can use.