Boyz II Men
by k-os

Album: Can't Fly Without Gravity (2015)
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Songfacts®:

  • This track is a collaboration between six Canadian rappers, who each take a verse. In order, they are: Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall, Choclair, King Reign, Shad, k-os.

    K-os organized the project and takes the anchor leg, but it was Saukrates who got it started by writing the first verse. K-os sent that recording to the other rappers, and each added another verse in sequence, doing their best to top the previous MC.

    "My verse is the shortest on there, because really I had nothing to say after it," k-os said in his Songfacts interview. "Everyone spits about 24 bars on that track, and I must've rapped for 16, because I was like, This is more about me going, 'Look what I did.'"
  • Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall and Choclair were friends in Toronto when k-os joined their crew, moving to the city from Whitby, Ontario. These four became the nucleus of the Toronto rap scene that later spawned Drake. King Reign and Shad are the young guns who started collaborating with k-os more recently.
  • The song takes on themes of black identity and how race is portrayed in the media. Kardinal Offishall
    raps:

    Black and proud
    When you stand up for yourself, they call you "black and loud"
    If you're too black, white folks will black you out
    Blackball you from the industry, only n--gas allowed


    This evolves into a reflection on the history of hip-hop, and how the rappers are honoring their forebears today. (Shad references Nate Dogg and Outkast in his verse.)
  • It isn't until the end of the song that "Boyz II Men" is mentioned. The song isn't about the top-selling vocal group, but about how the rappers on the track have grown to become the standard bearers of Canadian hip-hop. In our interview with k-os, he said: "The title is really about celebrating that: A generation of hip-hop that influenced the world in my opinion is now grown and we're still all here doing it and kicking it. And nothing is more beautiful than what the original idea of hip-hop was: to get together with your boys and instead of getting into trouble or going to hurt somebody, you got on this rap track."
  • This song opens with part of a lecture by the writer/philosopher Alan Watts called "Images of God." Watts states:

    "I'm sure that most of you know the old story about the astronaut who went far out into space, and was asked on his return whether he had been to heaven and seen God. And he said, 'Yes.' And so they said to him, 'Well, what about God?' And he said, 'She is black.'"

    Watts goes on in his lecture to describe the different ways that God is described among different cultures, which often doesn't conform to the traditional biblical depiction.

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