Arts and Entertainment

‘Komplex Kai’ performs at Tulalip Resort

Tulalip rapper ‘Komplex Kai’ is set to perform with a live band at the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Canoes Cabaret Room on Jan. 15. - Courtesy photo.
Tulalip rapper ‘Komplex Kai’ is set to perform with a live band at the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Canoes Cabaret Room on Jan. 15.
— image credit: Courtesy photo.

TULALIP — Kisar Jones-Fryberg’s musical alter ego has been largely dormant since the passing of his aunt in 2010, but on Wednesday, Jan. 15, “Komplex Kai” will take another step toward his revival at the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Canoes Cabaret Room, where he’s slated to perform a free show with a half-dozen-member live band from 10 p.m. to midnight.

“I started producing albums when I was 15, but I was already writing lyrics and putting them to beats when I was 10 or 11,” said Kai, a Tulalip rap artist who’s produced six albums over the course of the past decade. “I’m an MC, but my work is drawn from a Native perspective. I’m guided by Native traditions, but they’ve been modernized, because between the resettlement and the segregation of our people, we lost so much.”

This complex dichotomy between the history of his people’s culture and the world in which he now lives drives much of Kai’s output, as does his desire to leave behind a worthy legacy.

“Every album is something that my great-grandkids will be able to look back on and say that I did,” said Kai, who has four children already, with one more on the way. “I don’t want to downplay the importance of our traditions, but by the same token, my culture is rooted in the present day, and what it means to be Native here and now. This is my way of expressing my own existence in 2014, and it doesn’t make me any less Native or Tulalip.”

Kai recalled an exchange with an older man, who had asserted that he shouldn’t be proud of having grown up on a reservation, and explained his own mixed feelings in response.

“He pointed out that our people had been placed in reservations as prisons, and I understand that, but that’s still where we come from,” Kai said. “You can’t downplay or dismiss where we’ve come from, or what we’ve lived. It’s where tradition meets experience. I’ve got to be proud of where I’m from.”

To that end, the Komplex Kai band will be playing a mix of original songs and covers, following an 8-10 p.m. comedy show in the Canoes Cabaret Room, and those who are interested in checking out his music need look no further than Facebook and iTunes under “Komplex Kai” to find all of his albums and songs online.

“My grandma was my first manager,” Kai said. “I wasn’t even going to pursue music as a career, but now, I’m all for positivity and creating opportunity.”

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