Kokolo

Kokolo

BandLatinFunk

Joe Strummer scatting in Spanish as a stripped-down Afrika 70 backs him up... at a hip-hop jam...in New York...during summer. In other words....100% Funky!

Biography

In just a few years, KOKOLO's infectious blend of social commentary, charisma and musical appeal has taken them from the tangled streets of their native New York to the world's stage, firmly establishing them as premier innovators in rhythm-based music, and drawing scores of afro-beat lovers, funk heads, salsa aficionados, dance club punters and jazz connoisseurs along the way.

KOKOLO (a name derived from Spanish-Harlem slang used to describe hardcore followers of afro music) formed in May 2001, at a time when the Big Apple's nu afro-beat scene began to take shape. Formed by lead singer and songwriter Ray Lugo and English trombonist Chris Morrow, the duo soon blossomed to eight core members, and within two months became mainstays at New York's venue for the avant-garde, the Knitting Factory.

Turning to the DIY ethic of his formative punk days, Lugo self-produced and released the octet's urgent “Fuss and Fight” debut through a deal with England's Afrokings label in 2002, under the shadow of the World Trade Center attacks. That same year, KOKOLO undertook the first of many visits to the U.K., giving European audiences an initial taste of the live energy the band is known for.

"My aim" Lugo explains, "was to fuse the socio-political awareness of punk and the confidence of hip-hop with the sophistication of afro-beat, funk, Latin music and beyond - in order to create something unique based on my own experiences".

Lugo's music demonstrates a continually evolving ear for song craftsmanship, writing and producing works that owe an equal amount to Fela Kuti and Ruben Blades as they do to The Clash and Hip Hop. The man's music, always danceable, always grooving, has something to say as well: "The fair and balanced distribution of information, education, natural resources and economic opportunities among all inhabitants of this planet is the key to our collective well-being over the long term".

In 2004, KOKOLO returned with their second full-length, the ambitious and aesthetically superior “More Consideration”, which, like their first CD, took its inspiration from present circumstances. But instead of being fueled by the paranoia of a post-WTC attack world, like “Fuss...” was, this rhythmic masterwork drew its subject matter from the humanist writings of Eastern philosophers like Osho, Krishnamurti and from the life of French/American artist Marcel Duchamp.

“More Consideration” featured guest appearances by a score of accomplished players, including guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter (Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy), drummer Jojo Kuo (Fela Kuti/Manu DiBango), keyboardist Greg Lewis (Chocolate Genius), bassist Gabe Roth (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings), and keyboardist Mike Weitman (Project Logic).

The band have cemented their reputation as an explosive live act through a healthy dose of international shows that have taken them from CBGB's, to London's Jazz Cafe, to the stages of the Montreal Jazz and Glastonbury Festivals, where they've shared the spotlight with acts ranging from Gilles Peterson, Roots Manuva, Taj Mahal and Issac Hayes to Zap Mama, Chic and Roy Ayers.

Active involvement in social causes emphasizes KOKOLO's belief that music, more than just providing entertainment, can also serve as a tool for raising awareness and effecting change. KOKOLO has contributed songs for causes ranging from relief for victims of Sudan's Darfur crisis (Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project) to environmental protection (One Love Vol. 1). In addition, the band consistently performs on behalf of a variety of social organizations.

In keeping with KOKOLO's open approach to experimentation, they have released a number of remixes by in-demand producers such as Faze Action (Bebel Gilberto, St. Etienne), Word of Mouth, Richy Pitch, Beatfanatic and White Mike. These collaborations have expanded the band's cross-genre appeal, and helped KOKOLO reach new audiences through a number of releases that also feature acts such as Zero 7, Femi Kuti, Masters At work, Ladysmith Black Mambaso, Quantic Soul Orchestra, U-Roy, Tony Allen, Afro Celt Sound System, Jazztronik and many others.

Though justly characterized as "tampering" with the afro-beat tradition for world audiences, by remaining intent on exploring sounds that take them out of the mainstream afro-funk sphere while keeping scores of fans who get it, KOKOLO have proven themselves perennial favorites and destined to remain such.

Look for KOKOLO to keep us guessing on their upcoming third album, “Love International”, scheduled for release in the fall of 2006.

-Stewart Killington

Lyrics

Mister Sinister

Written By: Ray Lugo

Mister Sinister a word with you sir
Kindly please let me speak my mind (x2)

So much blood upon your hand
How can you make valid cliams
To define yourself as Civilized
Murder hides behind your smile
As they fall for your profile
Find another fool to sympathize

Why? Why would I bow to you
Mista Mista Mista
Why? Why would I bow to you
Mister Sinister

Democrazy

Written By: Ray Lugo

Demo, democrazy-o
Ah de,de.de,de,de,de,de,de,doh
Demo, democrazy-o
A dem a go, dem a go oh

So many things that I find, designed to cloud up your mind
They keep you running so blind, by steady feeding you lines
The man is feeling fine, you know he does it all the time
It’s just another perfect crime, but your cut is never prime
The truth they never show , is hidden in their vines oh (x2)

So what is this you call democracy?
Is it the right to live free
Or the right to push freely?

‘cos what we’re trying to do ya’ll
Is market it and package it and selling it
Banging it, enforcing it all over the world
Cowboy boots and all, but check it

Wayago! – No kind of friend do you make-o
Wayago! – By bringing death to their door
Wayago! – We need ideas that bring us
Wayago! – A love that we cannot ignore
Wayago! – Is kinda crazy if you think so
Wayago! – Instead of less, we need more
Wayago! – Instead of less, we need more
Instead of less…

Discography

* Afro Funk: Feel The Beat Compilation (Big Sur) - June 2006
* Each One Teach One 7" (Afrokats) - May 2006
* Freestyle Remixed Compilation (Freestyle) - March 2006
* Beginners Guide To Afro Lounge Compilation (Nascente) - January 2006
* The Loft Compilation (KinkySweet) - January 2006
* Even Nice Girls Compilation (Public Release) - November 2005
* Afrique Cest Chic CD Box Set (Slip N' Slide) - November 2005
* Halucinator / Move It EP (Funk'd) - Sept. 2005
* Roy Davis Jr. Split 12" (Jamayka) - Sept. 2005
* Frequent Flyer Compilation (KinkySweet) - August 2005
* Sabroso/Beatfanatic 12" (Freestyle) - August 2005
* Afrique C'est Chic 3 Compilation (Slip 'n' Slide) - July 2005
* On The Run Compilation (Ether) - June 2005
* More Consideration Mini-LP (Freestyle) - February 2005
* House Afrika Compilation (House Afrika) - December 2004
* Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project Compilation (Modiba) - November 2004
* Mister Sinister Remix 12" E.P. (Jamayka) - November 2004
* One Love Vol. 1 Compilation (Pure Hemp) - October 2004
* More Consideration CD (Freestyle) - October 2004
* Root To The Fruit 12" E.P. (Freestyle) - August 2004
* More Consideration Amadou Diallo (Engine) - July 2004
* African Xpress Compilation (Shakti/Virgin) - March 2003
* Big Daddy Vol. 3 Compilation - June 2002
* Live at WFMU Compilation - June 2002
* Fuss and Fight CD/LP (Afrokings) - June 2002
* Donkey 7" (Afrokings) - June 2002

Set List

Donkey
Fuss And Fight
Good Noose, Bad Noose
Mister Sinister
Mama Don't Want No Gun
Everybody (Tryin' To Get Buy)
Candela
Root To The Fruit
Democrazy
Late Night, Closed eyes
Gimme Yaya
More Consideration
Trouble Come, Trouble Go
While I Got The Microphone
Homegrown
London Wire
Sabroso
Heaven
Ye Ye
Nueva York
Clave Y Bongo
The Magnificent Seven
Love International
If Compassion Were The Fashion
Progress
Dog Eat Dog
Cosa Nuestra

Sets can range from 45 minutes to 3 Hours.