Kevin Brereton (born February 20, 1972), better known by his stage name k-os (/ˈkeɪ.ɒs/; “chaos”), is a Canadian alternative rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. His given name may also be cited as Kheaven, a spelling he later adopted.
The alias “k-os”, spelled with a lower case “k”, was intended to be less aggressive than the pseudonyms of other rappers whose names were all upper case, such as KRS-One. It is an acronym for “Knowledge of Self”, although in a later interview he said that it originally stood for “Kevin’s Original Sound”. k-os’ music incorporates a wide variety of music genres, including rap, funk, rock, and reggae. The lyrics frequently focus on promoting a “positive message” while at times expressing criticism of mainstream hip hop culture’s obsession with money, fame and glorification of violence. A musician as well as a producer, k-os has written and produced nearly every part of all four of his albums. k-os usually performs with a live band, something that is uncommon in the hip hop genre. He sometimes plays guitar and keyboard both during live performances and in the studio.
k-os received his first musical exposure with the single “Musical Essence”, released in 1993. After the release of his second single “Rise Like the Sun” in 1996, he withdrew from the industry because he was dissatisfied with his musical style. He reappeared briefly in 1999 and released his debut album Exit in 2002. The album received positive reviews but sold relatively few copies. He released his second album Joyful Rebellion in 2004, which received platinum status in Canada. A third album, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, was released in 2006 and also went platinum. His fourth album, Yes!, was released in 2009. His fifth album BLack on BLonde was released in 2013. He released his sixth album, Can’t Fly Without Gravity in 2015. Read more
A Tribe Called Quest is an American hip-hop group formed in 1985 and originally composed of MC and producer Q-Tip, MC Phife Dawg and DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. A fourth member, MC Jarobi White, left the group in 1991 after the release of their debut album. He continued to contribute to the band sporadically before rejoining for their 2006 reunion. Along with De La Soul, the group was a central part of the Native Tongues, and enjoyed the most commercial success out of all the groups to emerge from that collective. The group released six albums between 1990 and 2016. The band broke up in 1998 after releasing their fifth album. In 2006, the group reunited and toured the United States. In 2016, they released their sixth album, which was still incomplete when Phife Dawg died suddenly in March 2016, and was completed by the other members after his death.
The group is regarded as a pioneer of alternative hip-hop music, having helped to pave the way for many innovative artists. John Bush of AllMusic called them “the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s,” and Jack White says of the group that “they were miles and miles deeper than most other people in pop music.” The Source gave the group’s debut album a rating of five ‘mics,’ the first time the magazine gave out this rating. In 2005, A Tribe Called Quest received a Special Achievement Award at the Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. In 2007, the group was formally honored at the 4th VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. Read more
Whodini is a hip hop group that was formed in 1981. The Brooklyn, New York-based trio consisted of vocalist and main lyricist Jalil Hutchins; co-vocalist John Fletcher, a.k.a. Ecstasy (who wore a Zorro-style hat as his trademark); and turntable artist DJ Drew Carter, a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee Read more
Aaron Dontez Yates (born November 8, 1971), better known as Tech N9ne (pronounced “Tech Nine”), is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. In 1999, he and business partner Travis O’Guin founded the record label Strange Music. He has sold over two million albums and has had his music featured in film, television, and video games. In 2009, he won the Left Field Woodie award at the mtvU Woodie Awards.
His stage name originated from the TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, a name given to him by rapper Black Walt due to his fast-rhyming Chopper style. Yates later applied a deeper meaning to the name, claiming that it stands for the complete technique of rhyme, with “tech” meaning technique and “nine” representing the number of completion. Read more
Outkast (stylized as OutKast) is an American hip hop duo formed in 1991, in East Point, Atlanta, Georgia, composed of Atlanta-based rappers André “André 3000” Benjamin (formerly known as Dré) and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. The duo achieved both critical acclaim and commercial success in the 1990s and early 2000s, helping to popularize Southern hip hop while developing distinctive personas and experimenting with diverse genres such as funk, psychedelia, techno, and gospel.
Benjamin and Patton formed the group as high school students in 1991. OutKast released their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994, which gained popularity after the single “Player’s Ball” reached number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart. With successive releases including ATLiens (1996) and Aquemini (1998), the duo further developed their sound, experimenting with a variety of styles and achieving commercial success. In 2000, Outkast released the critically acclaimed Stankonia, which included the singles “Ms. Jackson” and “B.O.B.”
In 2003, the duo released the double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which featured the number one singles “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move.” The album would eventually win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America. Outkast next released the soundtrack for the 2006 musical film Idlewild, which they also starred in. In 2007, the duo went on hiatus and both members have since pursued solo careers. In 2014, Outkast reunited to celebrate their 20th anniversary by performing at more than 40 festivals worldwide in 2014, beginning at the Coachella Festival in April.
The duo is one of the most successful hip-hop groups of all time, having received six Grammy Awards. Between six studio albums and a greatest hits release, Outkast has sold over 25 million records. Meanwhile, they have garnered widespread critical acclaim, with publications such as Rolling Stone and Pitchfork Media listing albums such as Aquemini and Stankonia among the best of their era. Read more
Naughty by Nature is a Grammy Award-winning American hip hop trio from East Orange, New Jersey consisting of Treach (Anthony Criss, born December 2, 1970), Vin Rock (Vincent Brown, born September 17, 1970), and DJ Kay Gee (born Keir Lamont Gist, September 15, 1969).
The group formed in East Orange, New Jersey,(colloquially referred to as Illtown in the 1980s) in 1986 as The New Style. The group first appeared on the music scene in 1989, releasing an album called Independent Leaders as The New Style, and the album generated the minor hit “Scuffin’ Those Knees”. After the release of its first album, the group was mentored by fellow New Jersey native Queen Latifah, and subsequently changed its name. Read more
Kottonmouth Kings is an American hip hop group from Placentia, Orange County, California. The band officially formed in 1996, describing their eclectic sound as “psychedelic hip-hop punk rock”.Kottonmouth Kings are composed of Daddy X (singer of Humble Gods, X Pistols, former singer of Doggy Style), Lou Dog (drummer of Humble Gods and former drummer of Doggy Style), D-Loc, DJ Bobby B, and newest member/ vocalist, The Dirtball. The group first attracted attention with the song “Suburban Life”, which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Scream 2 (With former member Saint Dog). Read more
Kane Robinson (born 21 May 1985), better known as Kano, is an English rapper and actor from East Ham, London. He is a significant contributor and is considered one of the forefathers of grime. In 2004, Kano released his debut single “P’s and Q’s”, which was an underground hit within the grime community. After signing to 679 Recordings, Kano released his debut studio album Home Sweet Home (2005), which peaked at number 36 on the UK Albums Chart and featured the top 30 singles “Typical Me” and “Nite Nite”. This was followed by the album London Town (2007), featuring Kano’s highest-charting single “This is the Girl” featuring Craig David. Through Bigger Picture Music, Kano released his third and fourth albums, 140 Grime St (2008) and Method to the Maadness (2010), both which charted in the top 50.
After signing to Parlophone, (a record label his cousin Dillon Smith is a member of) and six years without a studio release, Kano released his fifth album Made in the Manor (2016), Kano’s most successful album to date. It was critically acclaimed by music critics and charted at number 8 in the UK Albums Chart, becoming Kano’s highest-charting release, as well as being considered one of the best albums of 2016 by numerous publications. Kano achieved his first top 10 album of his career in the same year as fellow British rappers Skepta and Giggs. It was shortlisted for the 2016 Mercury Prize and won Best Album at the 2016 MOBO Awards.
Kano is widely considered an influential and founding figure in grime and British hip hop music and culture, alongside artists such as Skepta, Wiley and Dizzee Rascal. Read more
De La Soul is an American hip hop trio formed in 1987 on Long Island, New York. The group is best known for their eclectic sampling, quirky lyrics, and their contributions to the evolution of the jazz rap and alternative hip hop subgenres. The members are Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo. The three formed the group in high school and caught the attention of producer Prince Paul with a demo tape of the song “Plug Tunin'”. With its playful wordplay, innovative sampling, and witty skits, the band’s debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, has been called “a hip hop masterpiece.”
The album was the band’s biggest commercial success to date, with subsequent ones selling progressively less, despite receiving high praise from critics. They were influential in the early stages of rapper/actor Mos Def’s career, and are a core part of the Spitkicker collective. They are the second longest standing Native Tongues Posse group, after the Jungle Brothers. In 2006, the group won a Grammy for their collaboration with Gorillaz on the single “Feel Good Inc.”
In early 2015, they announced plans to release a Kickstarter-funded upcoming 9th studio album And the Anonymous Nobody in September 2015; it was released on August 26, 2016. The album tracks are said to be the result of multiple improvised jam sessions. The album also features guest appearances from artists such as Damon Albarn, Little Dragon, David Byrne and 2 Chainz.