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?
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