City Cast

3 Questions With D.C. Rap Legend Kokayi

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on December 16, 2022   |   Updated on June 18
Kokayi on stage at Black Girls Rock Fest. (Dawn Michelle Hardy/The Literary Lobbyist)

Kokayi on stage at Black Girls Rock Fest. (Dawn Michelle Hardy/The Literary Lobbyist)

Kokayi is a D.C. rap legend. We asked him a few questions about his inspiration and the D.C. rappers to watch.

What is it about D.C. that has inspired your music? Is it the sound of the city, the rhythm, all of it?
It's all of the above. D.C. is a space that is unique. We're not northern. We're not southern. And we have our own indigenous music which is go go. You hear the contributions of D.C. musicians all throughout your life, Salt ‘n’ Pepper, all that stuff from Trouble Funk. You heard Chuck Brown influences with shaky tambourine. You hear all of these influences within different genres of music around the city.

Who are some up-and-coming artists in D.C. to watch?
There are so many artists coming outta D.C. it’s crazy. You have Junior from Baltimore. Then you have Lil Dude. And artists like Beau Young Prince. You’ve got O-Slice who’s coming up. There’s too many to name! To follow the scene, follow Made in the DMV on Instagram or check out the THFCTRY. They’re always doing things.

Why have you chosen to stay in D.C. as a musician?
I live in NE and I raise my kids in this city … the lessons you learn from D.C. will stay with you the rest of your life. So my kids take the train, my kids know what bama is, my kids know about getting carried. I also want my kids to be around diverse types of people and D.C. is very diverse. 

I love the music that I come from. I love my people. I love what this city represents. I love the fact that we've had black mayors forever. I love the fact that I grew up in the city where the mailman, the bar owner, the barber, the church, everybody is black. And growing up with that understanding is important because growing up black in America is very different than anybody else, no matter what anybody says.

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