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Organic As F***: Meet Kota The Friend

“I’m appreciating everything that’s happening … I appreciate this very moment.”–Kota The Friend If you haven’t yet heard of Kota…

“I’m appreciating everything that’s happening … I appreciate this very moment.”–Kota The Friend

If you haven’t yet heard of Kota The Friend, you can be forgiven. After all, his debut release Palm Tree Liquor is just over a year old; he’s the equivalent of discovering a new show right as the second season premiere. That second in this case is his new EP Paloma Beach, which has been heralded by all who have come across it. The rapper’s sound is jazzy and as New York, as it gets — without overtly mimicking the golden era — and he has this commanding, yet relaxed tone that makes his music a pleasure to digest.

As of late, he’s been picking up a ton of steam — culminating in a 2017 A3C mainstage performance on a bill that included Nas. A one-time cinematographer (having worked on videos for acts like Asher Roth and Blu), one of the most intriguing about him is his visual aura. “Every visual that you’ve ever seen was — conceptually — something that I cooked up,” Kota told AAHH. “Most of the time, I just prop up my camera, and I just record a lot of what you see … one hundred percent of that is me.”

The conceptual consistency is especially apparent in his Lyrics To Go series — beginning with episode 3 — which features him (often solo) staring directly at the camera, as it slowly closes in, while the lyrics are displayed along the bottom. In the episodes that feature others, they either remain unaware or also just stare hauntingly into the camera. It’s an insanely intimate visual treatment that is adding to his overall schtick. He’s an odd mixture of Chance The Rapper, Isaiah Rashad, and (regarding his overall peaceful likeability) Lil B; he’s easy to become a big fan of.

“I feel like it’s just the musical content and the lyrical content,” he says when asked what he thinks make him stand out. “I feel like I’m saying a lot of stuff that people aren’t saying … I’m just being really honest and digging deep into who I am. It’s just a reflecting style.” This is the mantra of his new project, which navigates themes rooted in mental health. “I’m reflecting on my life, and I’m trying to dig deeper than anybody has ever done, so that’s kind of what I’m going for. At the same time, I’m trying to bring back this jazzy feel to the music, well, to Hip-Hop [really]. I’m trying to bring a jazzy feel to the mainstream.”

Kota is independent — like really independent. Not “fake indie” a phenomenon that seems to be all the rage right now; but, that doesn’t mean he won’t entertain the idea of branching out to a major. “I’m willing to do whatever is best for my career right now — and for my team,” he says. “It’s never just my decision but we are trying to figure out what’s good for us right now and the indie route is allowing us to do a lot of things and have a lot of freedom. If a label came along with a deal and a good opportunity, though, we would take it.”

His most recent releases have been the trilogy of visuals for “Her,” which is a song that appeared on his debut. “I just decided to bring it back and give it some new life; I feel like there are a lot of songs on the old project that didn’t get a lot of love because I didn’t have a lot of popularity at the time. So, I’m trying to breathe new life into that project as well as like give shine to the new project.”

While he has aspirations of one day reigniting his video production work, he’s keeping to his frenzied pace of music — in fact, he was speaking to us from the studio while in Atlanta [for A3C].

Mostly, he’s keeping active — and his love of what he’s doing is shining through. “I’m enjoying the ride. I’m enjoying where I’m at right now, [because] I know in a couple of years it’s not going to be the same … it’s going to be a completely different situation cause the way that we’re grinding is insane. There are a lot of people that are waking up, and I’m just happy to be exactly where I’m at right now.”

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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D-Brown & 30 Boy Will Ooze Chemistry On “Full Court Pressure”

D-Brown and 30 Boy Will — two artists on my radar — have absolutely found a way to make an…

D-Brown and 30 Boy Will — two artists on my radar — have absolutely found a way to make an overcrowded lane feel like an empty highway. Their latest collaborative effort Full Court Pressure landed across my desk this week, and I’ve been cranking it ever since.

The vibe is very familiar sonically. Hard beats that remain extremely cohesive, keeping the project fairly levelled — making for a skip-free top to bottom experience, without having to readjust yourself. The sub category the duo fall into often have a tendency to keep the thematic elements of their projects quite predictable. While these two do pick the low hanging fruit at a few points (for lack of a better analogy) there is this undeniable rawness in their bars … an almost explosion of authenticity that trumps much of the fabricated storytelling new jacks have made trendy.

It’s an aura reminiscent of Jeezy in his heyday.

At a solid seven songs (with very little fat to trim) the project is an easy listen — but offers a hearty meal for those craving some substance to go along with their playlist-ready bassy beats.

There are plenty of gems here. The aptly titled “Official” was one that I immediately found myself running back a few times — as I did with the look-at-me-now vibe of “Bag Today.” The obligatory but tastefully flipped song about the females, “Preferences,” sees the two professing their taste for women with money and things of their own (among other assets).

One of the shiniest moments on the project is the infectious “Memphis,” which sports a chorus from the LP’s sole feature — the older brother of Juicy J and the co-founder of Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat — helping segue the two incredible verses by D and 30.

The track has been my most played this week (it wasn’t even close).

Their chemistry is undeniable and their ear for the perfect production to complement their tales of perseverance, street life and subdued (but still prominent) themes of opulence are on full display. While the two can really rap, it doesn’t feel like past tense, but rather present tense play by plays.

“Money doesn’t make you real,” D laments in the intro of “Official.” It’s this mantra of keeping it 100 and letting it speak for itself that drives Full Court Pressure. Cue it up, press play and enjoy.

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