by k-os

Album: Joyful Rebellion (2004)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • When crabs are in a bucket, if one tries to climb out, the others will pull it back down. In this song, k-os uses that phenomenon as a metaphor for people who try to bring you down, and how he's got no time for that, since he's moving on up.

    K-os if from Toronto, which isn't exactly known for its crabs. It was John Salley who introduced him to the term "crabs in a bucket"; the NBA player was k-os' manager, and it was an analogy he often used, telling the rapper that critics and negative people are "like crabs in a bucket."

    In our interview with k-os, he said: "I always thought it was a good metaphor, because the way those crabs do it, it's really a natural, unintentional thing that we as humans might look upon and say, Wow, they're holding each other back. But it's just the way it is.

    So I found it deep in the way that it was such a natural thing, but also deep in the way that human beings tend to want to be individuals and not want that to happen: they don't want people to hold onto them when they're trying to get out. They deny that when it's kind of a natural thing for humans to sort of latch onto someone who's doing something positive."
  • K-os started recording in the mid-'90s, but didn't release his first album until 2001. Joyful Rebellion was his second album, and it was a breakthrough, earning him acclaim across his native Canada and some attention in the United States. "Crabbuckit" was the standout track, and it became his calling card. Over the next few years, he became frustrated with the music industry, and he didn't release an album between 2010-2013. During this time, he felt a little strange being known for this song, but when we spoke with him in 2015, he had come to appreciate it. "Now when I listen to it, it's amazing, because it's like my experiences have caught up with the song," he said. "As I mature and have more experiences, I realize the innocence of it and how on point and clear I was with the statement: just shake off the crabs in a bucket. Try to stay positive."
  • There is a Ray Charles feel to this song, as the rhythm bears a resemblance to Charles' "Hit The Road Jack." This was unintentional, but understandable considering that Brother Ray was in the collective conscious at the time, thanks to the movie Ray.

    "My gut and my feeling as a musician is always that we're all channeling each other," k-os told us. "So whereas maybe in Canada, it was about 'Crabbuckit,' maybe in America it was about 'Gold Digger' by Kanye West. It all had a similar Ray Charles kind of bluesy thing."
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