Kokayi (Carl Walker) is a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, emcee, producer and educator. Pronounced “Ko-Kah-Yee” the Washington D.C. native was given the name which is derived from Swahili and means “he summons the people”. Musically self-sufficient and versatile he produces his own music, writes his own songs, sings from the gut, and is self-taught on several instruments.
Recently having placed 5 songs in Kevin Hart’s “Laugh At My Pain” feature film, Kokayi continues to exemplify the practice of “operating outside of the box”. His latest album, Robots & Dinosaurs still receives critical acclaim, receiving a 93/100 from the tastemakers at Okayplayer, and his video for lead single “RoxTar” won “The Freshmen” contest for MTVU and is currently in rotation on the network all while grabbing several honorable mentions on “Best of 2010” year end lists. “Believe It”, a song featured on the album, was licensed for the short film, “A l’arraché” directed by Paul Manate, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival and was broadcast throughout France on the premium channel Canal+. With this album, Kokayi created a narrative that highlights the spaces between the extremes of modern pop, rock & hip hop and subsequently deletes
Kokayi’s prolific output keeps him busy on multiple fronts with several side-projects as a vocalist, he works as one half of the electro-hop duo “Dastardly” (with DJ/Producer Sharkey), with his Afropunk outfit, “TheCaesarz” as well as with the 100% improvised avant garde jazz outfit “The Proverb Trio” – each of which has self-released albums to critical acclaim. Having worked aside noted saxophonist Steve Coleman, Kokayi continues to be sought after for collaborations throughout the jazz community as notably one of the best vocalists that can rhyme over both 4/4 rhythms, as well as, odd metered music. As a producer, he created the MTV Jams staple, “Jet Setter”, as well as, “Higher Stars”, “Blinding” and “Slackers Farewell”, for fellow D.C. native, Tabi Bonney, co- produced “Lovin’ You (Music)” by Ethiopian singer Wayna (for which he garnered the aforementioned Grammy nomination) and “Moonlight Rendezvous” for the songstress that spent 7 weeks on Billboard’s Top 10 R&B/Hip Hop Singles & 100 Hot Singles Sales charts, peaking at #3 and #12 respectively. He created the theme to BET’s “How
I’m Living”, various commercials for MTV/Nickelodeon. He’s collaborated with recent Maybach Music Group signee Stalley for 10 exclusive original songs for ESPN radio, as well as, 2009 Miss D.C. Jennifer Corey and Goodwill of Greater Washington to write and produce “Dream Without Boundaries”; the proceeds of which go directly to Goodwill of Greater Washington.
As an educator, Kokayi has taught classes on vocal improvisation, hip hop history, the business of music, he has performed and lectured in over 35 countries, serves as faculty with the School of Improvisational Music (based in NY) and has partnered with the US State Department serving as a cultural envoy via their Rhythm Roads program, which utilizes hip hop culture, education and music to foster cultural exchange.
Kokayi continues to create and nurture his own sound, develop his own brand and continues to be both a student and a teacher of his diverse forms of expression along with his high level of productivity, quality music and electrifying live performances –Kokayi continues to pay homage to his self-proclaimed mantra of “Less Talk, More Walk”.
sweat.honesty. originality. -gimmicks = Kokayi