For an artist long characterized by stylistic and cultural dichotomies, Canadian rap elder statesman k-os's decision to embrace, and encapsulate, those once conflicting fissures, in the form of a double album, while potentially perilous, feels like a logical proposition. Split into two disparate collections of rap and rock, BLack On BLonde finally leaves the now multi-instrumentalist singer/MC free to fully explore the many rock-based inklings we've heard sprout up over the years and, for the BLonde portion, k-os largely shines. Quizzical folk-rock ditties and driving, key- and guitar-led stompers each play competently around the lamenting, reverb-soaked "Wonder Woman," anchoring a solid second disc, which could have stood respectably on its own despite its short length. However, it's the rap-focused BLack disc that remains unexpectedly conflicted. Standouts like the sonically adventurous "Diamond Sky," curiously plodding yet lyrically inspired "Spraying My Pen" and strident opener "Like A Comet" are completely unsettled by the saccharine, radio-directed singles ("NYCE 2 Know Ya" and "C.L.A") and regrettably elementary love plea "Nobody Else." While the disc does eventually find its footing, the clash between clearly artistic and commercial endeavours makes for an uneven and somewhat jarring listen.
Read our exclusive interview with k-os, in which he discusses this review, here. (EMI)