Magnum KI
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Magnum KI

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | INDIE

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Pop


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Magnum KI @ Royal Phoenix Bar

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Magnum KI @ Pyramid Cabaret

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Magnum KI @ The Forks - Scotia Stage

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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This band has not uploaded any videos



People who can't move their asses to this album must be dead. Producer extraordinaire DJ Kutdown has outdone himself on this record, brewing up a head-bobbing, hip-shaking mix of swing, jazz, funk, R&B, dub and reggae grooves while MC Ismaila Alfa (backed by Rob Crooks) winds his words sinuously into tongue-twistin', sing-speakin' declarations of self and place and heart and hope. The mix works best when it's upbeat and bangin' as on Ol Skool (featuring a cameo from John Smith), Dreaming and No Way, but reflective, groove-oriented vibes of Rhythm Addict, Tired and Sleep are almost hypnotic.
- John Kendle - Uptown Magazine

MAGNUM K.I. - Magnum K.I.

by Lee Repko

Magnum K.I.

* Label: Foultone Records

4 out of 5 stars

Magnum K.I. picks up where their 2008 Gunshy release left off: cultivating a West Indie vibe with subtle jazz touches over molasses-thick beats. The trio of DJ Kutdown, Ismaila Alfa and Rob Crooks continues here in an obvious trajectory. Three tracks carry over to this release, but the new treatment is nothing short of phenomenal. Proper respect must be paid from start to finish: meticulously crafted beats, deep couch-comfortable microphone work and superb mastering by Darcy Ataman (Grand Analog) that brings the levels to the clarity that this deserves.

Delicate sax touches on Rhythm Addict and piano flow on No Way are reminiscent of Black Sheep’s debut, while Ismaila’s calypso/reggae chattah style bear comparison to KRS-One or even Das Efx. They seamlessly mix Native Tongues with ‘80s-style synth rock, Caribbean flavour and boom-bap head-bangin’ beats to great result. My sub-woofer is still smiling. - The Uniter

Magnum K.I. - Magnum K.I.
By Thomas Quinlan
Winnipeg rapper Ismaila Alfa and Thunder Bay producer DJ Kutdown have been working together for over a decade, ever since Kutdown joined pioneering Manitoba rap group Frek Sho as the unit's primary producer and DJ. This self-titled album might only be the second release for Magnum K.I., but their long history is revealed in the easy transitioning through styles and sounds, including jazz, reggae, '80s synth pop and rap. If nothing else, Kutdown proves his versatility with beats that would make Grand Analog jealous. Vocally, Ismaila shows a great deal of range, jumping from rapping to toasting to singing, but he receives support this time from newest member Rob Crooks, a singer-songwriter who assisted on Magnum K.I.'s debut, the Gun Shy EP. The group also get an assist from Peanuts & Corn rap vet John Smith, who drops a hardcore history lesson to close off Ismaila's half-sung/half-rapped back-in-the-day cut "Ol Skool," while Suss adds some much needed femininity with her background vocals on "Sleep," a beautiful merging of an '80s-inspired beat with reggae raps. It's not the only '80s-inspired song, with "Phoenix" borrowing from Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and "Some Day" being full-on Depeche Mode. Still, "Eyes on Fire" is an exciting album opener, with a powerful sax sample, an up-tempo beat and a flurry of raps, and tracks like "Rhythm Addict," also on a similar vibe, and "No Way," featuring hyperactive turntable manipulation by Kutdown, keep things grooving and moving. While their debut full-length is a good listen, Magnum K.I., unlike Frek Sho, is still a mutt of a musical concoction that probably won't appeal to hip-hop purists.
(Foultone) - Exclaim

Magnum K.I.
Canadian hip-hop’s biggest secret

By Cheryl Thompson

Magnum K.I. is a musical collective that is ready to take Canada, possibly even the world, by storm. A combination of two rappers and a DJ – like they used to do it – these guys are the real deal…for real. SoulMatters was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with Rob Crooks, one of the crew’s creative talents about their upcoming self-titled album, and hip-hop in general.

Representing both Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, this crew seems like an unlikely hip-hop powerhouse, but as anyone who knows anything about hip-hop knows, you got to rep where you come from, and no one does it better than Magnum K.I.

SoulMatters: For people who don’t know who you guys are, how would you describe your hip-hop to people?

Rob Crooks: We are products of the battle. Both Rob Crooks and Ismaila developed their skills early on as battle rappers and the same goes for DJ Kutdown as a battle DJ. But over the years we've matured into more well-rounded artists. Right now we feel like we want to push our music to the edge of what can be considered hip-hop. We use all the same techniques that they were using 20 years ago, but we're trying to use these techniques to express our own experiences in Canada today.

SMM: What does Magnum K.I. stand for?
RC: The name is a play off of Magnum P.I., of course, but we've changed the "P.I." to "K.I.," which stands for Kutdown and Ismaila, respectively. However, since we've officially added a third member to the group, we've joked around that "Magnum" now stands for Rob Crooks. You can interpret that as you see fit.

SMM: Representing two cities in Canada that people don’t automatically expect hip-hop to come out of must be a challenge, how do you silence those critics, or at least, represent where you come from?
RC: It is true, perhaps, that to the mainstream Winnipeg and Thunder Bay are not considered hip-hop cities. However, each member of Magnum K.I. is very thankful for the scene that they were nurtured by. Each of us came up in the hip-hop scene of our respective cities and we wouldn't want to do or say anything to slight those communities. In both Winnipeg and Thunder Bay there is a rich history of hip-hop, and we are here to carry on the tradition.

SMM: You’ve been described as being in the same vibe as early Jurassic 5. What is it about your crew that is in the same vein as J5?
RC: We have consciously taken our music in a new direction with the new Magnum K.I. album, and that direction is towards a sound that is, for lack of a better word, fun. We want our music to make you move on the dance floor, or to lift your spirits after a bad day. But we still maintain that gritty hip-hop feel at the same time. I suppose that is where the parallels between Magnum K.I. and J5 would lie.

SMM: I was reading your bio on Myspace, and I read that Michael teaches hip-hop production and turntablism throughout Thunder Bay, that is just great to see hip-hop in the community. What do you have to say to all those people who say that hip-hop is dead? How are youths in your community living hip-hop?
RC: Michael (aka DJ Kutdown) teaches DJing and hip-hop production to inner-city youths here in Winnipeg, and he has found the experience very rewarding. These experiences have proved the idea that "hip-hop is dead" is a dead concept itself. Every day Micheal sees the beneficial impact of hip-hop on the community and the kids within it. Hip-hop is the most universal language in use today, and in many cases, it is creating a dialogue between the alienated youth and a system that has let them slip away.

SMM: There are so many hip-hop groups in Canada doing big things, why do you think there’s a perception out there that the only ‘real’ hip-hop is coming out of Toronto? No hate of course, but I’m sure you know what I mean!
RC: With all the incredible hip-hop musicians from all across this country, in places like Vancouver, Saskatoon, Halifax, etc, it's easy to forget that there is still a perception somewhere out there that all good Canadian hip-hop comes from Toronto. It's true that a lot of great music comes out of Toronto, and there is a lot of opportunity to get shine there, since that is where the industry in Canada more-or-less resides. But, any hip-hop fan can tell you that great music comes from every nook and cranny of this country.

SMM: On a few tracks, like “Tired” there’s a clear political vibe. Are you a political group?
RC: I don't think that we would consider Magnum K.I. a political group, ourselves. But, we are of course three socially-conscious people. I believe that it's a necessary consequence of being from Winnipeg. Here there are a lot of big-city problems in a small-city space. So, you can't ignore the young girls standing on the street corner, or the homeless man huddled in the bus shack. It's so visible in our day-to-day lives that we can't help but let that awareness slip into the music.

SMM: Finally, what do you love about hip-hop?
RC: We love everything about hip-hop. We grew up on hip-hop and we will die with hip-hop in our hearts. We still see so much potential for this young art-form, and we are so excited to see where it goes. As long as hip-hop is living and breathing there will always be hope for something better in our lives.

Magnum K.I.’s debut album is out January 19, 2010. Check them out on Myspace @ - SoulMatters

Who is MAGNUM K.I.?

Ask any musical collective; healthy collaboration is the backbone of success. And while Magnum K.I.’s new self-titled full length might be a debut, there’s a weighty and palpable sense of maturity within each of the ten island-infused and rhythm heavy hip-hop tracks. You’ve got to give credit to the dynamic method that DJ/Producer, Michael Arnone (aka DJ Kutdown), lead-vocalist/song-writer Ismaila Alfa and co-producer/song-writer Rob Crooks took to attain the dense and transcendental sound on their debut. Taking an organic approach, each member brought musical ideas to the table. Yet no track was ever considered finished until they’d all put their own fingerprints on it and the results speak for themselves.

Combining the relaxed yet potent vibes of early Jurassic 5 with the sensibility that only a city like Winnipeg can provide, the three members of Magnum K.I. are truly onto something here. Rising from the ashes of seminal hip-hop outfit Frek Sho, they’ve spent enough time honing their craft to know what it takes to play the hip-hop game with poise, energy and tracks that will drag even the shyest wallflowers onto the dance-floor.

With showcases at CMW, SXSW, NXNE and Pop Montreal 2010 lined up, there seems to be little that can get in the way of this trio. They’ll be hitting stages across the country from January to March of 2010. It’s about time too; Magnum K.I. have worked hard enough to know what it takes to make a hip-hop outfit work. Now, it’s time for the rest of the world to see what they’re onto.

See them live in Winnipeg February 10th at The Pyramid opening for Raekwon of Wu Tang. More tour dates to follow.
Check out the first single ‘Tired’ here:
- PEACE! Canada's Street Style Magazine


Magnum KI (2010)
Gun Shy EP (2008)



Canadian Music Week (March)
NXNE (June)
Pop Montreal (September)
Lancaster Music Festival (pending)

Magnum KI is a boundary-breaking, genre-bending hip-hop group from Winnipeg, Canada. With the late-eighties and early-nineties backpacker movement as the common influence bonding the four core members, Magnum KI finds interesting new ways of marrying their individual strengths together and coming up with a new spin on the traditional style of hip-hop they grew up on. By combining boom-bap drums and socially-conscious lyrics with infectious melodies and dance floor conscientiousness, they transcend the label of "rap group," and pass into new realms of hip-hop and pop hybrid on a level often attempted but rarely achieved. As a back-drop, the will to rock the party is firmly established within the group's sensibilities, though their inspirations are never far from the gritty Winnipeg streets that surrounded them growing up. This fact makes sure their music is never soft, never predictable, and entirely genuine.

The live show is of utmost importance to Magnum KI, and that is obvious to anyone who has seen them perform. The group has been known to team up with some of Winnipeg's most celebrated Jazz musicians for concerts around the city, but are maybe at their best, certainly at their rawest, when they are a quartet. They are lead by Nigerian-born emcee and vocalist Ismaila Alfa, whose powerful voice adds conviction and emphasis to the group's lyrical content. Beside him on the mic is Rhonda "Fenom" Thompson, whose deeply soulful singing voice is coupled with sharp emcee skills, often surprising to those unfamiliar with the likes of Bahamadia or MC Lyte. Behind them are the production team of Rob Crooks and Michael "DJ Kutdown" Arnone, whose live MPC abilities and precision turntablism, respectively, not only give the group the energy of a live band, but also give Ismaila and Fenom the chance to break-down and build-up the songs in anyway the moment dictates. The result is a live-show, filled with explosive peaks and emotional valleys of freestyle-laden, genuine hip-hop based experiences.

Their most-recent release, Magnum KI (Foultone Records, 2010) is an excellent cross-section representation of what this group is all about. From their hard-hitting, fast-paced party anthems like "No Way," to the smooth pop influenced dance-floor pleasers like "Tired," to the socially restless tributes like "Phoenix," the album displays the complicated make-up of life in a mid-Western North American city, full of booze-cans, immigrant struggle and under-age sex-trade workers. This album may make you think; it may make you want to party; but one thing it will definitely do is make you nod your head and tap your feet.