Student balances life at school and as a performer

Jasmine Alston

Late nights and early mornings is how most students go about handling the semester, whether it is with parties or staying up late to study and then getting up for class the next day. But dedicating time to write and collaborate on music is a typical routine for one Sacramento State student.

The atmosphere is calm and chill. The room is dimly lit as a beat constructed from a sample of the singer Monica’s song “Before You Walk Out of My Life” plays in the background. He sits on the bed, reads the newly typed lyrics from his iPhone and the verses begin flowing naturally.

This is not the usual studio most people would think of. The home-made booth with a mic and foam on the walls of the apartment assist with creating music that is relatable and easy to vibe to.

Being a senior in business administration is one thing, but making time for booking shows requires ambition and hard work. Kolawole, who goes by KT or Kolawole Tokeaux on stage, balances school, work and time to be an entertainer who is also familiar with the business side of the music industry.

He invested in a planner to keep track of his assignments and writes down everything that needs to be done throughout the week. Kolawole also said he gets himself right by setting time aside for rest and prayer.

Kolawole describes his craft to be a combination of Jay-Z, Kanye West and Outkast.

On stage, he usually gets on stage with a hat displaying the logo for his brand and his African staph, which has two heads connected representing two heads are better than one. It also symbolizes a bridge connecting Kolawole to his fans, family and heritage.

Opening for acts like SchoolBoy Q, some may never guess the Sac State student was a rapper, a poet and a storyteller. Kolawole describes his EP “Influences,” as a combination of things that influence him like relationships, education and faith.

The process for creating a track can range from 30 minutes to a couple of days depending on the time and how articulate he wants to get on his verses. For Kolawole’s current song, it took him about 20 minutes to complete the verses.

“Life comes with ups, But I am down. I know you got my lust, but what now?…” Kolawole raps as the sample plays. “Everything that works on paper, doesn’t work in your favor.”

Kolawole said “Now and Laters,” a song that is going to be included on the EP, is about relationships and breakups, more so about how a relationship may sound good when you say it but there may be no emotional connection.

When it comes to production and managing, Kolawole does not work alone.

Freesho, created by Kolawole, is the name of his production company. The name is derived from the slang term “fa sho”. It is a brand that is supposed to intrigue and connect with people.

“Basically I just flipped it and put a free on it, you know just free intellect, free mind,” Kolawole said.

He works alongside Jonathan Bell, a 28-year-old graduate from CSU Monterey and Myles Coleman, a 22-year-old psychology major at Sac State.

Bell is the executive music producer and multi-talented musician who helps Kolawole when it comes to production. His room is set up as a studio with two piano keyboards and a computer where he creates the samples.

As Bell and Kolawole collaborate together Coleman sits down and takes a listen. As the project manager, Coleman takes time to give his honest advice about the music. His musical background is also used when it comes to singing the hooks on some of Kolawole’s songs.

Coleman, who was part of a singing group with his brothers, met Kolawole about eight years ago in high school.

“We were doing music and when we met KT he was already doing music before, but he did not have a studio,” Coleman said.

The two managed to get into a studio owned by a relative and they have been inseparable ever since. They created a partnership that would assist with Kolawole’s vision when it comes to his business and his music.

Coleman said he likes KT’s music but he is still a critic.

“He hasn’t reached his limit yet,” Coleman said.

Kolawole has also worked with other students. One in particular is his friend Rob Ceaser, a public relations major, who has helped with marketing and website content for Freesho.

When it comes to Kolawole’s music, Ceaser said he could feel the vibe and since they are both from Long Beach, he was able to relate. He has seen Kolawole perform at a previous event and believes that as an artist, he gets the crowd to where they need to be.

Ceaser does feel that Kolawole needs more exposure beyond Sac State.

“He is using what he learned from class in order for him to venture off in his business,” Ceaser said.

Kolawole recently performed for Urbie, an event put on for local musicians at Assembly in downtown Sacramento, and for Black Org. Night on campus. He also makes time to be actively involved on campus with Cooper Woodson and the club Ashe.

“Kolawole Tokeaux at his core, deeply cared about people and did his best to challenge them to be the best that they can be through his stories and ministries,” Kolawole said.