CD Reviews: k-os and GMK

k-osYes! (Virgin)Musically schizophrenic might be the best way to describe k-os, Toronto's guitar-playing MC whose vocal style travels from hip-hop to rock to electro to reggae—sometimes within the same track. On his latest disc, Yes!, the follow up to 2006's Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, k-os dabbles in a more throwback hip-hop style, with noticeable improvisations along the way.The lead single, "4, 3, 2, 1," showcases his sing-jay lyrical delivery over a layered bass line, a choppy NASA countdown sample, and sparse strings that build on, rather than take away from, the track.Other album highlights include the bubbly, dub-accented guitar-pop of "Burning Bridges," where k-os impresses more with his singing than with the singular verse he raps. "The Avenue" is similarly underlined with a roots/reggae foundation that lends itself perfectly to his melodic lyrics of losing, and finding, love in the city.As the son of a minister, k-os has occasionally come off a tad preachy on past albums, but thankfully he mostly resists that temptation on Yes! Instead he offers an enjoyable genre-melting effort, boasting solid songwriting that isn't "too esoteric to touch"—or dance to, for that matter. There's also more room for his clever lyrics and thought-provoking lines to breathe and not be overlooked. BRADEN RUDDYGMKSongs for Bloggers (Team Brilliance)There aren't enough concept albums coming out of Seattle these days. I appreciate any MC who can string together an entire album or EP of jams that coalesce—still, there's something about a project which requires your attention from start to finish that I find more intriguing. On local rapper GMK's debut EP, Songs for Bloggers, the Columbia City–bred new jack is creating tracks for the Web 2.0 generation. All of the songs clock in at under two and a half minutes, and the project as a whole caters to an Internet attention span. Standout tracks, which basically arrive in elongated snippets, include "Adult Swim," whose snares and kicks induce eargasms, and the infectious "Music Swinger." The song "Games Play" feels like something Q-Tip could have penned with J Dilla, and the title track is full of playful message-board swagger.But the real gems on this online-only release are the funny computer-related skits interwoven through the tracks by local producer DOT. What GMK and DOT (who happens to be Vitamin D's kid brother) have created with Songs for Bloggers is both a question and an answer about what hip-hop of the future might sound like. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAM

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