Main, rileysbest, Stream

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
Related Articles
Main

“My Dear Melancholy” is Bone-Chillingly Beautiful

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse,…

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse, his struggles as a homeless young-adult, and suicidal thoughts–few could have guessed that it would be his short stint with a former Disney Channel star that would leave him at his lowest. The Starboy crooner leaves little to speculation on his latest commercial release, My Dear Melancholy, a succinct six-song EP inarguably based on the fallout after his recent fling with pop star Selena Gomez. 

While The Weeknd’s anguish seems genuine and makes you feel for the guy, it’s impossible to ignore the glaring irony in his recent complaints, one, given Gomez’ goody-two-shoes persona, and even more so given the overtly misogynistic lyrics that Tesfaye is so well known for. Here are a few in case you need a reminder (no pun intended):

From the track “Party Monster” off of Starboy: “Woke up by a girl I don’t even know her name.”

From the smash hit “The Hills” off of the 2015 release Beauty Behind the Madness: “I only call you when it’s half past five, the only time I’d ever call you mine.”

Later on the same track, “I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you.” 

Lastly, on the track “Reminder,” also off of Starboy: “When I travel ’round the globe, make a couple mil’ a show, and I come back to my city, I fuck every girl I know.” 

With that being said, musically, My Dear Melancholy is bone-chillingly beautiful. The Weeknd returns to his dark and cavernous House of Balloons roots on the project while still maintaining his newfound pop sensibilities. Rattling bass, slow, driving percussion, and subtle, haunting synths and keys cproductions. The production on most of My Dear Melancholy leaves room for Tesfaye’s vocals to take the driver’s seat, unlike that of the brighter and grandiose Starboy. From a lyrical standpoint, the EP is peppered with moving, weighty bars:

Off of “Wasted Times:” “I don’t wanna wake up if you ain’t laying next to me.”

Off of “Call Out My Name,” the opener: “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” a reference to Gomez’ recent search for a kidney donor

Tesfaye saves the best for last, providing the most melodically beautiful and lyrically clever portion of the EP on the closing track “Privilege,” as he repeats in a despondent, Vocoder-enhanced tone: “I got two red pills, to take the blues away.”

It is hard to deny the allure of much of The Weeknd’s work, regardless of lyrical content, due to the singer’s angelic voice and cutting-edge production. On My Dear Melancholy, Tesfaye achieves success from both a melodic and lyrical standpoint, substituting (for the most part) tales of apathetic sexual encounters for raw, vulnerable descriptions of his recent struggle with heartbreak. The Weeknd has finally found the middle ground between his groundbreaking, alt-R&B House of Balloons project and the poppy, Funk-infused Starboy. Lastly, to those Weeknd Stans worried about the Toronto star returning to normalcy, the singer explains on “Privilege:” 

“And I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay…But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways.” 

Not to worry people; the Abel we’ve come to know, and love isn’t going anywhere.

Continue Reading
Main

Cardi B’s Debut Album “Invasion of Privacy” Is Out Now

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than…

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than pleased with the LP, which has aldo managed to make those who weren’t fans, into new ones..

“I like proving niggas wrong, I do what they say I can’t,” raps Cardi B on “I Like It”

I can’t think of an artist that has had as bomb a breakout year as Cardi B has. She gave us the summer 2017 hit, “Bodak Yellow,” and since then, she’s been on the Billboard charts back to back (to back). The last ten months have been especially great to her, let alone this week. After releasing Invasion of Privacy, Cardi revealed her pregnancy with rapper Offset on “Saturday Night Live”; also, she was the first person ever to co-host The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Invasion of Privacy is an upfront look into Cardi’s everyday life. She’s confident, vulnerable and full of witty remarks. Laced into 13 tracks, the newly minted Quality Control management signee made anthems for the rest of the year. “Get Up 10” sets the bar for what’s to come on the project. Inspired by Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, Cardi’s version is also broken into two parts about her ascension to the riches from the rags.

As well, the album includes “Bartier Cardi” with 21 savage, which recently earned platinum certification, and is still doing numbers.

 

Cardi B money moves on this album show her versatility. She dabbles into the trap sound with “Drip” featuring the Migos, shows her confidence and positive vibes on “Best Life” featuring Chance the Rapper, and gets very personal with “Be Careful,” a track addressing an unfaithful partner/boyfriend. Cardi is not the one to mess with!

Social media pundit-turned reality TV star-turned rapper is a way of saying that this girl from the Bronx, is made of grind and determination. You don’t have to like her music, the way she talks, or her persona, but you have to respect her hustle. She came from the bottom and executed her way to the top.

Listen to Cardi B’s debut album below.

<iframe src=”https://tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/album/1368105671?country=ca&at=11l4Qg&ct=invasionofprivacy” height=”500px” width=”100%” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

Continue Reading
Main

Scottie Jax Is Prepping Posthumous LP To Drop In 2100

This man is intent on leaving a legacy.

You may not have heard of rapper/producer Scottie Jax, but he’s been on and cracking for the better part of the last decade. His first solo mixtape Plan For Tomorrow (from 2009) was hosted by the illustrious DJ Lazy K and featured verses from some of the game’s most respected: French Montana, Max B, Styles P of the mighty D-Block, and the late Fatal Hussein of the Outlawz. He’s since released numerous projects, beats tapes, and — shit — even a videogame last year entitled Ohio Hustler.

But, Scotty is intent on leaving a legacy.

The largely self-produced artist has a new album in the works, entitled Future History; mysteriously (and cryptically), he refers to is as the “Scottie Jax album you will never hear.” He notes in his release details that it’s set to release in the year 2100. “I feel that it’s not about the person who leaves the legacy, but the legacy itself,” he writes. “I will no longer be living, so the least I can try to do is make the world a better place than it was when I was living on it.” There is no word on the platform he will choose for this LP — as there’s no telling if they will still be around. We can only hope he drops the LP long before that.

In the meantime (the very long meantime) you can check out a large portion of his catalog via Soundcloud.

Continue Reading
Main

Kaiju The Unconquerable Returns With Ultraman Visual

Kaiju The Unconquerable is an alumnus of my #indiespotlight series from last year when he released “Episode 6″—a dope mini-movie…

Kaiju The Unconquerable is an alumnus of my #indiespotlight series from last year when he released “Episode 6″—a dope mini-movie that anyone into Anime/comics/ninja type shit should revisit. He just sent “Episode 7: Ultraman” my way, and it’s fantastic.

Related: #IndieSpotlight: Kaiju The Unconquerable Releases New Short Film

This time around, the story centers on Zenith, a 27-year-old Ultraman stationed in the US. He became an Ultraman after his father attempted to tamper with the gene and ultimately ended up dying in an attempt to distill and use its power. Fast forward; Zenith is the only one with this power (on this side of the world), and—in the course of the six-minute mini film fights a deadly alien, lighting up the NYC skyline in the process.

 
It’s, literally as rad as it sounds. From his Ultraman arms and mask—which are insanely cool—to his Ultraman letterman jacket, which I would kill for, the visual is engaging, not unlike his past material. He also directed it, which needs to be acknowledged.

Much like his previous work, which I discussed before, Kaiju’s image and music play off of each other but don’t depend on each other, at all. DOOM is DOOM, that’s his character. This song, for example, is a really dope song as a stand-alone; if you were to listen to just the song, you might take Ultraman as a metaphor–among many others in the lyrically dense track–and rock with it.

The video is what makes it literal. “Ultraman” is a really (really) good song, I can’t stress that enough. Kaiju may come across as niche if you peruse through his catalog, but he’s extremely accessible.

Recommend content—really sit with this one. Early!

Continue Reading
More in Main, rileysbest, Stream
Katti Supreme Has His Eye On The Prize

There’s no reason not to aim for the top in this industry — just ask North Carolina rapper Katti Supreme....

Close