Kohndo (also known as Doc Odnok, full name Kohndo Assogba) is a French rapper and producer born on June 17, 1975, in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. Kohndo is known as one of the best lyricist in french rap. He gained recognition as a rapper during the 1990s as a part of the influential rap group, La Cliqua.
After his birth in France, Kohndo moved to Benin (West Africa) where his family originated. A few years later he moved back to France, and grew up in Bobigny, a suburb located north-east of Paris. In 1984, he discovered part of Hip-Hop culture through the TV Show, H.I.P. H.O.P. hosted by Sidney. In 1987, he relocated to the „Cité du Pont de Sèvre“ (Pont de Sèvre Housing Projects) in Boulogne Billancourt, a wealthier suburb located west of Paris. There he befriended his downstairs neighbor whose family, like his, came from Benin, and who would be later known in the rap scene as Zoxea, a member of Les Sages Poètes de la Rue. With Zoxea, Kohndo discovered the deeper aspects of Hip-Hop, and after having learned ‘human beatboxing’ began rapping. Zoxea introduced Kohndo to his cousin: Egosyst, with whom he formed the band: „Coup d’Etat Phonique“ alongside producer Lumumba and then-young rapper, Raphael. In 1994, at a radio show, Egosyst and Kohndo met Daddy Lord C, a rapper and former member of the Black Dragons, a Parisian gang. With Daddy Lord C, producer Chimiste, dj Jelahee and Rocca they would form La Cliqua.
With the stage name Doc Odnok and as a part of La Cliqua, Kohndo toured radios and stages, and then released, in 95, a first EP, now considered a master piece of French Rap: „Conçu pour durer“ (Built to Last) on Arsenal Records. Doc Odnok delivered, for the first time on record, his then eccentric rhyming style alongside his microphone associates: Daddy Lord C, Rocca, Raphael and Egosyt. The record was an immediate success in the French Hip-Hop scene. Quickly Arsenal Records signed with major label Barclay, and La Cliqua worked on their next project released in 1996 as a compilation album: „Arsenal Represente le Vrai Hip-Hop“ (Arsenal represents the Real Hip-Hop). The record featured all members of La Cliqua and their young affiliates: Petit Boss and Cercle Vicieux. Critically acclaimed, La Cliqua became a major feature on the French Hip-Hop landscape. They opened for Arrested Development at the Olympia in Paris and performed in New York City at the Zulu Nation Anniversary. Following in the footsteps of „Represente le Vrai Hip-Hop“, Rocca was the first emcee from La Cliqua to release a solo album: „Entre Deux Monde“ which featured Kohndo on: „Mot pour mot“ and „Rap Contact 2„. In 1997, Egosyst, Kohndo’s rhyme partner on „Coup d’Etat Phonique“ decided to leave La Cliqua. Kohndo would remain with the band until 1998, when he left the crew to develop his solo projects and career.
Shifting lyrical styles for a more relaxed and mature approach, in 1998, Kohndo was invited on NAP’s album „La fin du Monde“, on Koma’s „Le Reveil“ and to participate in the compilations: „ZonZon“ (Soundtrack) and „Paris, New York, Marseille“ (along with Jay-Z and IAM). In 1999, Kohndo released a first EP: „Prélude à l’Odysée“, establishing himself as a solo artist. The following year he released another EP: „Jungle Boogie“, and then a 3rd one in 2001: „J’entends les Sirènes“. On those solo projects, Kohndo exposed his vision of a Hip-Hop far from the clichés of violence and fake gangsterism. 2003 saw the release of his long-awaited album, the critically acclaimed: „Tout est écrit“, presented as a recollection of „urban poetry“ with welcome hints of soul and jazz. In 2004, Kohndo released „Blind Test“, a compilation of older tracks and previously-unreleased materials. Over the years Kohndo has open stages for Masta Ace, Edo G (at Nouveau Casino), Talib Kweli, Mobb Deep (La Scène Bastille) and Isaac Hayes (Olympia).
Kohndo released his second solo album in 2006: „Deux Pieds sur Terre / Stick to ground“, a new masterpiece partly mixed in Detroit, featuring the Motor City’s very own: Slum Village and Dwele. Other American artists contributed to this album such as Jaheim and Insight with who Kohndo delivers one of the best combination of French and English lyrics ever recorded. The album was released with a DVD which featured 3 new videos, including „Dis-moi“ with Slum Village and „Stick to Ground“ with Insight, both shot in Paris. Kohndo produced 4 tracks on the album. Other producers on the album include 20Syl of Hocus Pocus, dj Brasco as well as Jee 2 Tuluz and Stix who were already featured on „Tout est écrit“. It must be pointed out that „Deux Pieds sur Terre / Stick to Ground“ offers an international angle of Hip-Hop, not only because of the featured American artists but also because it has been released in Europe, Japan, Australia and in the USA.
It was following the release of „Deux Pieds sur Terre / Stick to Ground“, and after various collaborations with musicians that Kohndo decided to form a live band to share the stage with him. In a few months of meetings and auditions, Kohndo had created the „Velvet Club“ – composed of: Sebastien Artigue (Bass), Yann Massoubre (Drum), David Santhino (Keys), Thomas Agrinier (Guitar) and Dj Kozi (Turntables). Kohndo & Velvet Club have performed all over France, noticibale performances have been at the festivals „La Rue au Grand Palais“, „Nancy Jazz Pulsation“ and the „Printemps de Bourges“.
In April 2008, Kohndo and the other members of La Cliqua (minus Raphael) came back together for a performance at the Festival l’Original in Lyon. This successful, unexpected, reunion which resurrected on stage some of La Cliqua’s classic repertoire, was followed in January 2009 by a sold out concert in Paris, at the Elysée Montmartre.
After touring with his live band for years, Kohndo worked on his third album „Soul Inside“, influenced by live instrumentation, the album was released in May 2011 in Europe and a year later in the United States with 2 additional tracks inviting Rasco, Amad-Jamal, Flip and Rascue (Rasta Cue Tip of Various Blends). The first video for the single Soul Inside was released in December 2010. Other videos extracted from Soul Inside include „Rock On“ featuring Song and Karl The Voice, „Mon Ghetto“, „My Tribute (Mon Ghetto remixed by Flip)“, „Mes Nuits“ featuring Marie M, and „Vise le Ciel Remix“ featuring Brother Amir.
A rapper, beatmaker and executive producer, Kohndo is also working as a sound engineer on various projects, such as on the album of dj Brasco „Fill the Gap“ which features American rappers: Frank n Dank, Phat Kat, Black Milk, Wildchild, Rasco, Declaime, etc. Kohndo is a member of the French Zulu Nation. He has collaborated on various projects and shows with french pioneer Hip-Hop Dj and main representative of the French Zulu Nation: Dj Deenasty.