by Nigel Webber
“Sacrificed, hustled, paid the price / Want a slice, got to roll the dice” – Nipsey Hussle
2019 is the year that Anthony OKS fully launched his solo project. But don’t get it twisted, he’s a veteran rapper. Twelve years as a member of Winnipeg’s most all-time notable rap groups will do that for you. But even before the formation of the Lytics, Anthony OKS was surrounding himself with music.
An education in the world of hip-hop started early with the help of two older brothers. Oldest brother Alex would be in the basement, tinkering with music production, chopping up his own beats right in front of young Anthony’s eyes. Combined with brother Andrew’s collection of skateboarding videos and ’90s boom-bap rap tapes, Anthony began to seed a life of hip-hop. Originally starting as just a duo of Andrew and cousin Mungala Londe, Anthony and eventually Alex would join the group that would become the Lytics. Anthony OKS looks back on those earliest days of the group with fondness, simpler times playing around with your bros in the parents basement.
From their very first show at the Pyramid to twelve years later having toured all across North America, Europe and Japan and even having their music featured in an Apple commercial, Anthony OKS says he could never have predicted the world of success the Lytics have had. But there was something left to be desired. Since 2016, Anthony OKS has been writing songs that didn’t fit in the positive vibe, party rocking mentality that has always defined the Lytics.
The result is his debut EP Take Time. The process of over three years of writing, Take Time finds Anthony OKS in a more contemplative mood. The deeply personal writing on songs like “My Life” show a level of growth and maturity not found enough in the world of hip-hop. The result is a slower, less headnod-worthy project.
This is exactly what Anthony OKS is going for. By not giving “My Life” a heavy drum beat or bass line, Anthony OKS allows his voice and lyrics to surge to the forefront of his music. In a shifting climate of hip-hop, decisions like this are among the gutsiest that can be made by an artist. By playing against the expectation of the Lytics discography, Anthony OKS is able to deliver a more powerful and honest project.
The fact that the only vocal feature on the whole project is jazz singer Joanna Majoko singing the hook on “Let It Fall” is evidence that Anthony OKS wants his voice to be able to stand alone. Take Time isn’t all headphone thinking tracks. The closing song “You Are My Star” is an uplifting anthem that will have your hands swaying side to side at the next live show.
Combined with a few non-EP singles that have been popping up in the last year, including tracks featuring Cadence Weapon, Andrew O and Tommy Illfiger, Anthony OKS’ live show is guaranteed to get you moving. Honed over a dozen years rocking the mic on stage, Anthony brings it every single performance. Most importantly, he’s enjoying himself while he’s doing it.
Anthony has vivid memories of playing a solo set at a packed show in Japan. Despite a language barrier, he felt like he was able to connect with the fans on a more emotional level, letting the music take over. A show for the ages, to exist now only in memories and the ever-present hope that the next one will match it. Fans of hardcore hip-hop, surely you’ve stopped reading by now. But hardcore fans of hip-hop, those who are patient, those who “Take Time,” you’ll get Anthony OKS’ debut EP. Even without knowing the history you just read, if you truly listen to “Take Time” you’ll hear deep personal growth, as a person and as an artist, and all the struggles and fears that go along with that.