Komplex Kai
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Komplex Kai

Everett, Washington, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Everett, Washington, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Hip Hop




"Native hip-hop at Folklife: Komplex Kai raps a rez reality"

Native hip-hop at Folklife: Komplex Kai raps a rez reality

Indigenous & Indigenius: Native hip-hop took the Bagley Wright stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center Sunday night; concert review by Andrew Matson.

By Andrew Matson

Special to The Seattle Times


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Concert Review |

Bouncing around the whole stage with mic in hand, the rapper appeared joyful. His chant went like this:

"I'm from Tu-LAY-lip! And I'm proud of it! Very few, very few get out of it!"

Sure, his music sounds like party music. That's what hip-hop is. But the raps of 19-year-old Tulalip Tribes member Komplex Kai are more — a rez-centric reality that registers profound unease. And those raps resonated at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Sunday night's Native hip-hop concert at Bagley Wright Theatre.

For 40 minutes, Kai rapped with a mix of compassion and anger, revealing his allegiance to another tribe that could use a revival: '90s gangsta rappers of emotional substance.

Grim rez snapshots of "kids having kids" and "kids smoking pop" — or crack — came backed with Tulalip pride ("I'm throwin' my Tribe up!"), a move that's pure Tupac Shakur. Kai even did a dead-ringer for Tupac's wistful reconciliation track "I Ain't Mad At Cha," a ballad that mashed head-shaking love into sad truths ("drunk is how we cope"). Like 'Pac, Kai sounded much older than his age.

Indoor sunglasses, a wool hat with a bandanna tied underneath, baggy jeans and Timberland boots made him look flashy and rugged. His people received him like any other appreciative rap crowd, with hands in the air, miscellaneous whooping, and shouts of "Respect!".

Later, over a blanket of hypnotic minor-key piano, there was a keening string here, a detached trumpet there, and a booming death march of a beat. It sounded exactly like Mobb Deep, a New York City group that, in the '90s, invented the "spiritually devastated" hip-hop style.

"I lost a lot of friends," Kai rapped, "but was they really friends?"

Swirling beat behind him, Kai crouched at the front of the stage and deadpanned, "This is paranoia at its peak."

Addressing alcoholism, poverty, and the support/negligence/harm that comes from a fractured, chronically underestimated people, Kai's brilliance was in not talking down to his young audience. His swear words and allusions to sex and drugs would only add up to "adult content" for Tipper Gore. Loudly applauding every track, the mostly native and almost-full Bagley Wright audience wasn't offended.

Kai was preceded by local native theater youth group Red Eagle Soaring, doing an anti-smoking play, and followed by Oklahoma City's Culture Shock Camp, an abstract blend of Indian and hip-hop sounds.

Komplex Kai's hip-hop from the heart was refreshing, as was witnessing a crowd soak up the night's theme, the Urban Indian. For once, Northwest Folklife's "cultural focus" wasn't a boring venture, a theme removed from why we come to Folklife in the first place.

Andrew Matson contributes to www.raindrophustla.blogspot.com and www.206proof.com. Reach him at matson.andrew@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company - Seattle times

"Komplex Kai"

Komplex Kai brings Native American perspective to hip-hop

Hip-hop artist Komplex Kai will perform at a free concert Friday at the Tulalip Resort Casino.
Hip-hop artist Komplex Kai will perform at a free concert Friday at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

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Komplex Kai (AKA Kisar Jones-Fryberg), 28, is a Tulalip Tribes member and a hip hop artist. He offers a free concert at 7 p.m. Friday in the Canoes Cabaret at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

It’s been 10 years since the Herald first wrote about Komplex Kai. How have things changed in your life and in your music?

Well, some things have changed dramatically and some not so much. I still work on music constantly, whether it’s writing a new song or rehearsing for shows. The music itself has changed a little bit, maybe not the focus, but definitely how I approach making the music and even the process in which I create my music.

Does your music still have a focus on life on the reservation?

I think to an extent my music will always have that as a focus, or least it will always be from that point of view. I can’t change and would never want to change who I am and where I’m from, but a lot of my music now is of a more universal nature. I’m still Native and I’m still proud of it.

Are rap and hip hop still important art forms in the indigenous community? As you approach your 30s, are you still in touch with young people on reservations, including your own?

I think hip hop is becoming more and more a part of native communities, mine as well as others. I think it is because the content that comes from native rappers is so real, raw and fresh and new to the outside world. It’s such a great outlet for our youth, that it is growing rapidly as an expressive art form and a way to share personal stories with hip hop fans abroad. We’ve never really had a native artist crossover on a huge mainstream level, at least one who is speaking of our struggles and place in the world.

How did you get started and what was your motivation?

I use to read poetry books when I was a lot younger. I remember hearing hip hop before I could read. I wrote short poems before I ever started rapping. Once I began studying rap more and made the connection between how my poetry was structured and how rappers rhymed words in their songs, I started recording my own songs on a little boom box I owned.

What is your audience likely to hear during your show on Friday?

We’re performing to supplement the casino’s entertainment that’s already available. I’ll be playing a lot of my original material I’ve released throughout my career, as well as some cover songs the crowd is familiar with and can sing along to if they please.

What do you like to do when you are not performing?

I like to spend any free time I have with my family and my kids, or whenever possible, use it to hit the gym and play some basketball.

What is something that is always in your fridge?

5-Hour Energy shots. I enjoy caffeine, and coffee takes too long to drink in the morning. That and A1 Sauce.

What do you wear most of the time?

You’re most likely to catch me in basketball shorts, long sleeve thermals, Carhartt socks and some Jordan flip flops.

If you could share a meal with anyone from history, who would it be?

Probably Crazy Horse (or anyone of the many other important American Indian leaders from throughout history) and Tupac. I would discuss some of our “negative” issues in the present and see if they had any advice on how to change them.

What is your greatest joy?

My children.

What is your pet peeve?

Complaint without action.

If you could do anything to make life better in this state, what might it be?

I would want to successfully eliminate heroin from our streets and from our families’ lives.

What is something most people do not know about you?

My latest project “Unforgiven” is available now online. Go to www.komplexkai.com for more information. You could learn a lot about me by just listening to my music, but if I had to pick something outside of that, well, I actually wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid before I fell in love with hip hop.

­— Gale Fiege, Herald writer

Story tags » • Music • Rock Music • Tulalip • Tulalip Tribes • American Indian - Gale Fiege, Herald writer

"Komple Kai "Do Right""

Around the time Dr. Dre’s The Chronic blazed its way through the charts, a young boy on the Tulalip Reservation named Kisar Jones Fryberg began to listen to hip-hop, Fryberg has since become “Komplex Kai.”

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Komplex Kai: A Tulalip Rapper’s Journey to ‘Do Right’

Brian Daffron


Around the time Dr. Dre’s The Chronic blazed its way through the charts, a young boy on the Tulalip Reservation named Kisar Jones Fryberg began to listen to hip-hop. He also studied poetry, his personal favorite being that of Shel Silverstein. Using his own observations about reservation life—single mothers, jailed dad's, alcoholism, heroin use and the struggle to survive. It wasn’t long before Fryberg recorded his own poetry on a boom box, and his lyrics and music eventually found their intoto a 2005 single “About the Rez.”

Fryberg has since become “Komplex Kai,” and has made three albums. At 28, Komplex Kai has a new video, “Do Right,” in which he talks of wanting a better life for his children. Indian Country Today Media Network had a chance to ask the Tulalip rapper about his beginnings and thoughts about the future of Native hip-hop.

Komplex Kai—What is the story behind your name?

When I first started out in music, I came up on old-school Hip-hop. I started battling in my area with local rappers from my crew. I tried to make my lyrics more complex. Kai is just an abbreviation of my real name, which is Kisar. Ask anyone who knows me—I’m wordy. I talk a lot; I’m a wordy type of guy.

In “About the Rez,” there are a lot of specific issues that you mention, such as heroin abuse, alcoholism, incarcerated fathers and single mothers struggling for survival. Is there one or more instances that stand out that had an impact on your lyrics?

There are multiple things and instances without getting too specific and stating names in one way or another. I've dealt with those specific things. Whether through a family member’s experience or my own life experiences, I've come across or experienced firsthand all of those things. I still see those things today, some within my own family as well as our communities. All of this impacts my writing, what I write about, and the issues I choose to tackle with my lyrical content.

Who in hip-hop influences you?

A lot of West Coast artists like N.W.A. and all the members within N.W.A., especially [Dr.] Dre. When he put out The Chronic, I was only four or five. I heard it, and the beats fascinated me. That’s when I knew I enjoyed hip-hop as an art form. Tupac especially—that’s the highest form of poetry in hip-hop music, in my opinion. With ‘Pac, from our generation, I think he really was able to do that in a very good way. As I got older, DMX, Eminem, Nas—some artists from the ‘90’s that came a little later. I would definitely say ‘90’s hip-hop had the biggest influence on me.

What are some of the things you want to see better for your own children that you mention in “Do Right”?

Some of the themes and subject matter in “Do Right” I'd love for them to avoid altogether. Like when I say “the state only knows my Case Number and not my name,” I’d hope they never have one of those of their own or face some of the struggles or decision making that can lead to dealing with legal trouble or some of the other things I've encountered throughout life. All around, I hope for a better life for my children and would like to see them do better than I did, and have more positive experiences throughout their life and less of the negative.

Video of Komplex Kai - Do Right (Official Video)

How has your music changed from “About the Rez” [2005] to now?

I pay a lot more attention to detail as far as the technical side of recording goes. How this line is falling in the pocket, trying to take more time on my hooks. On the technicalities of making music, I think I’ve elevated my game in that area since then.

The one thing I love about that track, it’s just raw. I was 17-18 at the time. All technicalities aside, it definitely captured a moment in time. I go back to it and look for inspiration, even to this day.

What is hip-hop’s appeal to Native youth?

As Natives, we have our own culture—it’s ours, and we do things our own way. That’s a positive. At the same time, hip-hop is presently, in my opinion, the culture of America. That’s what we do—we’ve got to live on both sides. Putting those two cultures together could be influential in a positive way.

What are your current music goals?

I’m always trying to get better musically. I’m always trying to do things that I haven’t done. Whether it’s meeting a new producer, whether it’s laying different kinds of music, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m always trying new things with the music itself.

What do you think it would take to get Native hip-hop—Native rap—more mainstream?

There’s a lot of Native artists. I’m always trying to keep my ear to the streets. First things first, we try to connect within the Native community, whether it’s from rez-to-rez or state-to-state. We’ll try to continue that movement as we have been.

I think, a lot of times, we might have to play their game a little bit. When I say “play their game,” don’t be afraid to make a song that might appeal to people outside of our community. Once we create a certain amount of success, then we can bridge the gap and say, “This is our real story—I made a song you can dance to. Now here’s a song to let you really know where I’m coming from and what our people are going through, our struggles, and what we’re trying to accomplish with this movement.”

Check out Komplex Kai's facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/KomplexKai

ICTMN's Brian Daffron can be found on Twitter by following @briandaffron

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/04/11/komplex-kai-tulalip-rappers-journey-do-right-164104#.Vww0a0Zr9fc.twitter - Brian Daffron


Perfect World
Invisible race
What's Done is Done



Up and Coming Native American Hip Hop Artist Komplex kai (Kisar Jones-Fryberg, 29), known as hip-hop artist Komplex Kai, is a member of the Tulalip Tribes located in the Pacific Northwest. The artist name is a description of him as a youth as a complex individual, embracing this complexity, Komplex Kai was born.


He has been described as a Native Tupac by Seattle Times. His music blends classic West Coast beats with raw and gritty East Coast lyrical tones. As a lyricist his music is inspired by his life experiences growing up in and around the Tulalip Indian Reservation.


His lyrics envelope the pain of youth growing up with absent fathers, to finding his way in a modern world growing up as an Indigenous person to becoming a father and creating a musical legacy for his children.


His free styling- no fear lyrical prose was developed through local battle raps as a youth. Writing all his own lyrics Komplex Kai produced his first single at the age of 14, “About the Rez,” which latter was remixed remastered and became known as the Tulalip anthem with a hook that called out to youth to embrace their indigenous identity.  “Perfect World,” followed in 2005 and become his first title song and album. Komplex Kai has released five more albums, “Invisible Race,” “Unforgiven,” What’s Done is Done,” “The Album,” and the “The E.P.”


He has performed at Seattle’s annual Folklife Festival that features hot new artists and a diverse audience, EP, Tulalip Resort Casino. His new single “Do Right,” is resonating with listeners of all genres who can relate to the lyrics of trying to ‘do right’ while trying to accomplish a dream. Komplex Kai is a regular guest at the Canoes Cabaret Lounge at the Tulalip Resort Casino and has performed at the Tulalip Amphitheater.  Komplex Kai(Kisar Jones-Fryberg has been honored by Tulalip Hilbub(Tulalip Tribes Musem) to future his music in our video that is being made of our first chiefs.


He recently has done articles in Everett Herald, and Indian Country, I have attached the articles.






Radio Interview



Samples of songs on the internet https://www.bing.com/search?q=komplex+kai+about+the+rez&form=EDGEAR&qs=PF&cvid=b30e9fd9afcc488f9cb0bb4c51d81e92&pq=komplex%20kai%20about%20the%20rez







Social Media









Band Members