KO brings his personal stories of recovery to the stage during a show at the Queen’s with Daniel Wesley and Rebel Emergency May 31.

On the road

Rapper KO’s music is full of personal stories

It’s a long road ahead for KO.

The rapper and musician battled addiction from his early teen years, following a path of destruction that eventually led to rehab and a rising music career.

“I’m still on the road right now,” he said, speaking metaphorically about his rehab as well as literally as he tours across the country with Rebel Emergency and later Daniel Wesley, whom he’ll perform with at the Queen’s in Nanaimo May 31.

The street culture of Toronto afforded KO the opportunity to rap and record music but also made drugs of all kinds easily accessible.

“I just really liked them,” he said. “At lunchtime, I’d be rapping and drinking 40s and shit,” he said.

He stopped caring about school and got more involved in music, although it didn’t have the positive effects that band camp usually does.

Although from a middle class Greek family, KO felt like he needed to rally against injustice in society, he said.

“I was fighting the power, but what power?” he said.

Some rappers pride themselves on their criminal record, believing arrests and prison stints will earn street cred with fans and fellow musicians.

For KO, however, his arrest was a wake-up call.

“I never wanted that to be my life,” he said.

So began the continuing road to recovery, with stays in rehab centres in Canada and the U.S. Although he’s kicked hard drugs, recovery is not over.

“I’m still on it,” he said. “I wish I could say I’m 100 per cent sober.

“I smoke weed everyday.”

KO now gets his high from taking the stage, which he describes as the best adrenalin rush imaginable when fans are chanting his name and singing his songs.

The money he earned from his career he reinvested in a home recording studio, where he spends most of his days composing, writing or just playing Xbox.

While he’s happy now that his debut album Let’s Blaze is selling well with radio airplay for the first single Capable, if he could do it all over, he would choose an easier route.

“Everybody would go back and change so many things,” he said, adding that he would have finished high school and earned his diploma.

“I still do plan on doing that.”

Catch KO in concert with Daniel Wesley and Rebel Emergency at the Queen’s Tuesday (May 31). Tickets available at Lucid, Tranceformations, Harbour City Music and the Queen’s.

For tickets, or for more information, please call 250-754-6751.

For more information on KO, please visit www.ko-nation.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com