Artist Spotlight is a series whose basic aim is to highlight promising and interesting up-and-coming recording artists. From relative newcomers to underrated veterans, from mainstream to underground, we simply want to shine a light on talented musicians that are making great music.
KOTA The Friend
Despite the fact that he’s been in the game for a minute now, Brooklyn emcee KOTA The Friend has just begun to get wider recognition. A multi-faceted musician, Kota realized at a young age that he was musically-inclined, teaching himself how to play the trumpet, guitar, bass guitar, and piano — skills which laid the groundwork for him to produce a lot of his own music.
Kota’s musical influences are also drawn from a myriad of places. From Nas and Jimi Hendrix, to D’Angelo and ATCQ, Kota incorporates elements and techniques he learned from these esteemed artists to hone his own craft and carve his artistic direction.
In July 2016 he released his debut EP Palm Tree Liquor, which he followed up a year later with the EP Paloma Beach. By his third project Anything, released in early 2018, he was getting hundreds of thousands of plays on streaming services and hundreds of thousands (now millions) of views on YouTube.
He released his debut album, Foto, this past May.
Why You Should Know Him:
With how loud and bombastic modern hip-hop can sometimes be, sometimes it’s refreshing to listen to something that you can turn on and just vibe to. In that case, KOTA The Friend has you covered. His voice, which I liken to Portland rapper Aminé, is rather easygoing and chill; his music is typically pretty lo-fi. The combination makes for music that works in a myriad of settings — whether that be relaxing by the pool in the summer, or simply chilling with friends at the crib.
And if you listen beyond the surface to what Kota’s actually saying, you’ll also realize that his music is incredibly relatable, personal, and heartfelt. On the appropriately titled song “Sunny Day” is chock-full of positive messages about living life to the fullest. KOTA raps from the perspective of his mother on the excellent song “Mommy” to detail the struggles of single parenthood. And on “For Colored Boys,” he plays the part of a wise uncle (despite his age), as he offers encouragement and nuggets of advice for Black men trying to survive in America.
KOTA The Friend is certainly a rapper worth paying attention to. He’s a talented artist and a sound lyricist, with a lot of positivity, vibes, and wisdom to go around.
3 Songs to Get You Started:
“For Colored Boys”