CB Presents: KOKAYI + Konjur Collective hit Songbyrd Music House on Sunday, April 28

Artist. Producer. Educator. Author. Connector of dots. One man encompasses all this and more: KOKAYI, a virtuoso emcee who came up on D.C.’s underground hip-hop scene, collaborated with jazz royalty as far back as the ’90s, and has become one of the District’s standard-bearing creative voices.

The CapitalBop team is psyched to announce that this legend-in-the-making will be headlining our first show of 2024, at Songbyrd Music House.

KOKAYI is probably the only emcee today who’s a first-call collaborator with such a wide swath of jazz virtuosos: Terri Lyne Carrrington, Melvin Gibbs, Nate Smith, Dafnis Prieto and Ambrose Akinmusire are just a few of the world-renowned improvisers who consistently call upon KOKAYI’s genius.

But on Sunday, April 28, it’s time for him to take center stage in his hometown. CB returns to Songbyrd to present KOKAYI and his live band in a one-of-a-kind double-bill with Baltimore’s Konjur Collective, a spirit-summoning new group whose music is a perfect fit. Curated by CapitalBop co-founder and artistic director Luke Stewart, this is a night of music that pulls together the past, present and exciting future of music in the District of Columbia. Don’t miss this one.

Grab tix here

After getting his start as part of D.C.’s Freestyle Union, KOKAYI continues to ignite stages and captivate audiences with a sound that resounds between grit and gospel. Heard on more than 60 titles over the years, he has used improvisation, freestyle and spoken narrative to channel the tradition of the West African griot via the lineages of hip-hop, jazz, rock and R&B. A 2023 Guggenheim Fellow, KOKAYI is the first emcee to be recognized in music composition with this prestigious award. He is currently at work on a full-length album. Join us to experience KOKAYI with his D.C.-based ensemble: drummer Sheldon Thwaites, keyboardist Drew Kid and bassist Eliot Seppa.

In KOKAYI’s words: “My work is an amalgamation of my life experiences as filtered through D.C., go-go, and the African/African-American cultural influences created and passed on throughout the African diaspora.”

KOKAYI recently penned a book full of advice for those wishing to walk the path of a creative, You Are Ketchup: And Other Fly Music Industry Tales (Globe Pequot). The book takes readers from the golden age of hip-hop to the current day, dispensing the author’s hard-earned lessons and illuminations from decades of producing and performing music. The Washington Post‘s Chris Richards praised the book, saying, “It feels like a megadose of straight advice from a muso-mentor who’s been there. And, of course, Kokayi has been all over the place.”

KOKAYI is currently touring with his own band as well as with Ambrose Akinmusire’s Origami Harvest, Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, Whose Hat Is This?, Melvin Gibbs, Ego Mondo, Nate Smith + Kinfolk, Quite Sane, Sanity, Dafnis Prieto and more.

Konjur Collective, a Baltimore-based group that encompasses ancient traditions, free-form improvising, conscious hip-hop and much more, will play an opening set. Konjur’s major D.C. concert debut will be an event unto itself. Grab your tickets now.

This performance is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts and its Special Presenters Initiatives program. CapitalBop gives thanks to everyone who makes our work possible year-round, including New Music USA, the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and our community of individual donors. To find out more and support CB’s work, visit capitalbop.com/donate.



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