[Audio] Kokayi – “RoxTar”


If you love electro, rock, and hip hop all at once but don’t have an mpc to smash them together yourself, then Kokayi’s¬†Robots and Dinosaurs (QN5) is the answer to your melting pot dreams. Like Mos Def (The New Danger), Baths, and Don Cash, Kokayi is one of those explorative genre- bending artists who teeters on the outskirts fence, cleverly recoiling idiomatic sound strings from where you might least expect it.

Melting pot, stew, whatever smash-mash you want to call it, the distinctive Kokayi sound is something analogous to a cobb salad. In “Roxtar,” for instance, we hear an electro-pop synth timbre packaged in a funk vamp, followed by a sequenced drum pattern that– only for a split second while he “ehh! ehh’s!” a few times–sounds like it might melt into a dirty south hi-hat driven beat. But then he gets playful, changes his mind (and ours), and layers some wet ?uestlove-esque live drums over a full-lunged flow that rides fully forward, fully hungry. You can almost hear the spit flying each time he enunciates: “B-ad Brains/B-lack Flags… Black lights.” And Kokayi’s lyrics mirror his eclectic instrumentation that remains rooted in hip-electro pop but harbors all the markers of heavy metal (hear the complimentary¬†Slashian guitar shred in the bridge); but even those references go surprisingly afield, alluding to the shoegazers Jesus and Mary Chain, Smashing Pumpkins, and the british New Wave-Pop band Fine Young Cannibals, weaving their sounds and histories back and over onto hip hop’s. If this track, or album for that matter, was to come out as a quilt, it would probably be something like the artwork: dog-eat-dog, alive, and impartial.

That’s a lot of punch packed into four minutes and three seconds. If you’re the type of music eater who can’t get enough, tries everything, and is addicted to curiously pow n’ wow! flavor combinations, Kokayi is the chef for you.

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