Kota the Friend

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Brooklyn rapper Kota the Friend bucked trends, favoring musically rich instrumentals and vivid, sometimes surreal wordplay over the interchangeable trap styles of many of his peers. His personal, often-introspective lyrics and jazz-inflected beats met with well-groomed production on his 2020 album Everything. Kota the Friend was born in Brooklyn in 1992. He started exploring music by playing trumpet at age eight, growing more and more interested in music production in his high school years. He performed in various bands and worked as a cinematographer for independent musicians' video projects before establishing himself as a solo artist with a trio of singles in 2017. Kota's style blended jazzy undercurrents with R&B touches over beats that took cues from multiple phases of hip-hop's evolution. Full-length debut album Anything was released in 2018, and included cameo appearances from Hello Oshay, Childish Major, and Angel Haze. Positive reviews and press buzz came quickly, but Kota decided early on to stay independent. He would turn down offers from major labels multiple times over the next few years, opting for a D.I.Y. approach that offered him more creative control. In 2019 he released the FOTO mixtape, and the next year he followed it up with the brief project Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1. Second studio album Everything was released in May of 2020. Its summery production and unique arrangement choices gelled into one of Kota the Friend's most successful projects yet, in terms of both critical reception and the charts. ~ Fred Thomas, Rovi

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