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Kokayi Biography


10 February 2011 No Comment

Kokayi (Carl Walker) is a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, emcee, producer and educator. Pronounced “Ko-Kah-Yee” (or KOKE for short), this Washington D.C. native takes his name from the Swahili word meaning “to summon the people”.  Musically self-sufficient and versatile in ways that are reserved for upper-echelon talents, he produces his own music, writes his own rhymes, sings from the gut, and is self-taught on several instruments.

On his own, he’s already independently released his debut album Mass Instructions (2007), toured the world and snagged the aforementioned 2009 Grammy-nod for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for his work as a vocalist and co-producer on “Lovin’ You (Music)” by Ethiopian singer Wayna. He also produced Wayna’s “Moonlight Rendezvous” which spent 7 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Top 10 R&B/Hip Hop Singles & 100 Hot Singles Sales charts, peaking at #3 and #12 respectively.

As an educator, Kokayi has performed and lectured in over 35 countries and partnered with the US State Department as a cultural envoy through their Rhythm Roads program; which utilizes hip hop culture, education and music to foster cultural exchange. Once a BMG/France and Label Bleu signee, as part of the critically acclaimed band Opus Akoben, Kokayi has created and nurtured his own sound, developed his own brand and continues to be both a student and a teacher of his diverse forms of expression.

What’s equally impressive is his prolific output. Kokayi keeps busy on multiple fronts with several side-projects – as one half of the electro-hop duo, Dastardly (with DJ/Producer Sharkey), and his long-time Afropunk outfit, TheCaesarz – each of which has self-released albums to much critical acclaim. He’s produced the MTV Jams staple, “Jet Setter” for fellow D.C. artist Tabi Bonney and created the theme to BET’sHow I’m Living”, as well as music for various commercials on MTV/Nickelodeon. He’s also collaborated with this year’s Miss D.C. pageant-winner and Goodwill of Greater Washington to write and produce “Dream Without Boundaries”; the proceeds of which go directly to Goodwill.

In 2009, Kokayi signed to NYC’s independent hip-hop beacon, QN5 Music as an in-house artist and producer. His forthcoming album, Robots & Dinosaurs is set for release in 2010 under the watchful eye of Executive Producer Tonedeff. “Believe It”, a song featured on the album, was already licensed for the short film, A l’arraché directed by Paul Manate, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and broadcast throughout France on Canal+. With this album, Kokayi has managed to create a work that highlights the spaces between the extremes of modern pop, rock, and hip hop and subsequently delete them.

With his high level of productivity, quality music, and electric live performances – Kokayi goes a long way to prove his self-proclaimed mantra of “Less Talk, More Walk”.

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