Speaking of Music: Kaya's Embrace

Kaya's Embrace is on their Southeast tour this fall. (Courtesy of: Kaya's Embrace)

Kaya’s Embrace is an Atlanta-based duo specializing in a fusion of island reggae and hip-hop with forays into experimental rock. “City Lights” heard from co-founding member Alex Jay Grossman, also known as Papi Guapo, lead singer, lyricist and Melodica player for Kaya’s Embrace. Lead guitarist and backup vocals Cody McNeil joined him as well. Kaya’s Embrace live shows, and recordings often expand the line-up with brass, drums and other contributors. 

Grossman spoke about his early love of poetry, an inspiration in his journey through music. “When I was younger, I want to say maybe only 10 or 12 years old… I liked to write little poems, little rhymes. They didn’t always even rhyme, but writing was always just a form of expression for me, especially when I was feeling really upset or dealing with something,” he said. His poetry now emerges in hip-hop-style lyricism, though Grossman considers himself more “lyricist” than “rapper,” focused on storytelling and freeform expression. McNeil emphasized the power of the live audience at Kaya’s Embrace performances. “What motivates me most is just the connection that we can make with people when we’re playing our songs and seeing their faces sing along and dance and move to our music,” he said. 

Featured track “Motions” brings a catchy West coast pop sensibility to its infectious reggae bounce, with tight vocal harmonies and a chunky rhythm guitar backbeat. The song lifts up positive vibes while acknowledging the occasional ruts in life. As McNeil said, “It just really explains that day-to-day grind… You’re just, you know, going through the motions. And I feel like it’s very relatable to a lot of people out there. We just want to remind people to keep their head up high, and things do get better.”

Kaya’s Embrace tours the Southeast this fall, with a slate of live shows through early 2023. Fans can track their tour routes, follow social accounts and find more information at https://kayasembrace.com