“Kokayi has plans to tour the record — first in the District, then in Europe, he says, where audiences are more enthusiastic to an array of genres. He enjoys the freedom overseas. He hates to be boxed in. Just let his music speak for itself. But if there’s one thing Kokayi willingly attaches himself to, it’s the District and its rich cultural legacy. As outraged as he is by displacement and gentrification — how it threatens to bulldoze culture alongside buildings — he believes music is a viable force for social change. “Look at what happened when they tried to shut down go-go music,” he says, referencing the Don’t Mute DC protests, which transpired after new neighbors tried to make a Shaw electronics store turn off its go-go music. “D.C. is my crucible,” he says. “And music provides me with a spiritual release.”
"We hear the ghosts of James Brown and Maceo Parker and, most importantly, the living spirit of Kokayi, one of the three MCs from the original Metrics ensemble, who frankly steals the show on many an occasion. Largely unknown beyond his work with Coleman and Andy Milne's Dapp Theory, Kokayi is arguably one of the most dynamic and creative rappers in contemporary hip hop, yet to assign him solely to the genre would be a mistake. His brilliance lies in the unforced ease with which he shuttles between rapping and singing, so that his voice becomes a mighty, all-terrain vehicle, which is particularly effective for Coleman's music given its tendency to cross the line between what might be called swinging and grooving. The sound soars upward to gospelised soprano and also dives deep into burly baritone sub-sonics, a dark, dense wedge of tone that commands the whole venue. Coleman ends the evening singing a few lines, which, in turn, act as a springboard for the rest of the band."
The album’s opening third establishes a strong sense of place. “Hands on Your Knees” is a straight-up go-go number produced by Kaytranada; rather than rapping, the track is overlaid with D.C. lifer Kokayi emceeing a party over crowd noise. The end result is a song that captures the atmosphere of a go-go as much as the music.
"The rest of the project is peppered with acknowledgements of GoldLink’s own experiences with gun violence and gang culture in DC. This is not to say the album is grimly political or overly morbid in nature; in fact, most songs celebrate less serious pleasures of everyday life: a party, a lunch date, a summertime fling. “Hands on Your Knees,” MC’d by DC musician Kokayi, plops the listener right in the middle of a go-go show, amidst funky rhythms and characteristic call and response interactions between entertainer and audience members."
“Kokayi‘s genre-defying music might be hard to classify, but if there’s one thing clear, it’s that his soulful offerings are undeniably infectious while also being incredibly insightful”.
“Today's announcement reveals over 40 acts with more details to follow. There are many performers to note, some of which include hip-hop artist Kokayi—who is creating a new anthem for D.C”.
“One of the most versatile artists from the area, Kokayi got the crowd dancing and singing along to his infectious musical offerings. A highlight from the show was his fantastic performance of his hit, “Only””.
“To my ears, Kokayi is the most versatile musician in the D.C. area. You want beats? Please, that's light work. How 'bout some alt-rock shit? Done. At this point, there's nothing Kokayi can't do”.
“First up will be Kokayi (below), a Grammy-nominated electro-hip-hop producer who's an equally dope singer and rapper. His beats are weird and hypnotic, his rhymes are clever as hell, and his charisma makes his live shows even more danceable than his records”.
“Kokayi is one of the coolest acts in DC. The charismatic frontman and his band’s creative take on hip-hop is amazing to experience live”.
“But unlike Kokayi’s sharp and dazzling entry to the Tiny Desk contest, the “Part Of It” video is a tearjerker”.
“The dude has a biography worth not skimming and the kind of creative muscle to do crazy things like put out a song a day for a year, but really, this video is all you need to get sucked into joining Team Kokayi. I have watched it upwards of 20 times and I still can’t figure out my favorite part”.
“On a song called “The Lick,” Kokayi sings, speed-rhymes, plays the keys, chair-dances and punctuates his verses with goofy faces. NPR’s official Tiny Desk Contest rules say that stage presence and charisma make up 20 percent of the judges’ criteria. Kokayi nailed that category, all while sitting down”.
“After a lot of darky challenging music coming out of DC (see song selections 6 and 4), “Part of It” was uplifting and downright necessary in the political climate of 2015, pinning Kokayi as both a lovably cool and genuinely positive force in DC music”.
“Bandwidth’s 50 Favorite D.C. Songs Of 2015”.
“The song is one of those precious moments where we get to hear Kokayi’s impressive vocal chops take center stage as he takes “History” to new heights. By the end, you’ll find yourself singing along and bobbing your head to the song’s infectious”.
“Backstory aside, "Poseidon" (one of many songs Kokayi's dropped this year) carries a hypnotic knock that holds your attention above its serious premise”.
“Since 2010, when Kokayi released the stellar Robots & Dinosaurs LP, he's dropped a remix album, an instrumental project dedicated to California's Pacific Coast Highway, and a compilation of old beats. In 2012, under the name CRZS, Pro Deo et Patria riffed on police helicopters and racial injustice. So yeah—he hasn't been twiddling his thumbs”.
“DJ Cleveland Browne Wants to Know feat. Kokayi”.
“This is album is far more "electric" than the last in terms of sonics and completely abandons all regard for normalcy. Not the faux House-Dance Mix-Dubstep stuff taking over urban radio. That's not what it is at all. It's more genre redefining than anything; in the way that Janelle Monae's 'Archandroid' was. He's completely set his own rules and lane”.
“His is articulate music that resonates in headphones and on the dance floor. Sure, these songs have meaning, but stop to decipher them when you’re done dancing”.
“(regarding Birdus Ghetti-The song, with its bouncy synths and country rock flair, is the lively opener of Kokayi’s forthcoming album, Pro Deo et Patria (For God and Country)”.
“His recently released Pro Deo et Patria is a great example of full—but never over-produced—soundscapes surrounding headnod-inducing beats and supporting his trademark strong songwriting. The biggest takeaway I can offer is that his songs are passionate (he clearly loves music and making music), but considered. They’re not brash”.
“Kokayi is a singer, but he is here with a guitarist, bassist and drummer which is a really good thing as this band is piping hot”.
“The multi-hyphenated MC tells his truth and artfully so. He doesn’t try to be something he’s not, but confidently steps out and shares life as he sees it. Ah, refreshing!”
“Simply put Kokayi is one of those artists that is actually living up to the title of artist. His album Robots & Dinosaurs is one of the best of last year, and if you haven’t picked it up yet then do so now”.
“The freedom on this album is ridiculous, with Kokayi effortlessly jumping across genre. Honestly the range of sound’s plated here are direct signs of something amazing to follow in the future. 8/10”.
“Kokayi’s ability to tell stories of doubt, triumph, and sorrow yet still offer scathing and truthful critiques of an industry in flux mark it a success. Robots & Dinosaurs is not intended for instant audio gratification. Instead, the album’s variety of moods and topics make for one of the most pleasant audio journeys in some time”.
“With the declarative statement on the soulful “Over There”, “you‘re either a robot or dinosaur/ no middle ground, so the sound ain’t changing no more.” Kokayi sets us up for a retro-futuristic thrill ride”.
“Quite simply, while Instructions was respectable, Robots is Kokayi’s Illmatic— a masterpiece that will surely be regarded as the artist’s crown jewel, no matter what he records afterward”.
“The Grammy-nominated artist shows that vulnerability isn't just an occasional admission of heartbreak amid a bunch of player talk, or a quick mention of depression surrounded by lines about feeling like Superman. He carefully details his lowest moments and yet still makes an album that bangs”.
“Kokayi is as much wordsmith as tunesmith, and when he raps, the occasional moments of brash bravado are all the more credible for his peculiar – dare I say nerdy? – idiosyncrasies: “you all foosball/ I’m all rugby/ you’re a sweater/ I’m-a let her be my Snuggie.” (“Shpring (What You Want)”)”.
“He beat sports warped guitar lines that slimily shift in dimension throughout, wrapping around a steadily bouncing beat with hard, brittle snaps subbing in for a snare. Then there's Kokayi's rapping, steady yet nimble, jokey even when it sounds most threatening”.
“The bow on the top of this package is his sophomore solo effort, Robots & Dinosaurs, an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink post-modern pastiche of sonic sweets”.
“As a fan of a wide variety of genres from hip-hop to pop to punk to rock, it was exciting to hear a producer/rapper/singer blending things up into some kind of original, funky, soulful circus party”.
“From what I can tell from Kokayi's bio, this Caesarz project is just one example of the multiple musical interests that he's exploring My hat's off to him”.
“Carl "Kokayi" Walker is following up this year's Grammy nomination with a busy 2009 to-do list. He and producer Shaun Sharkey are currently finishing up their debut album as Dastardly, a project that Kokayi says will meld R&B, house, and hip-hop sounds with vocals by several female singers”.
“He's definitely got the touch: Even when his hooks are subtle, they show his urge to be impeccably current”.