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Interview: Inside Kota the Friend’s ‘Everything’

Kota the Friend details the process behind his new album ‘Everything’, the impact of fatherhood on his life, and offers advice to artists trying to make it work on their own in our latest interview.

BQE – [KOTA The Friend] ft. [Joey Bada$$] x [Bas]

No, it’s not summertime yet and yes, we’re all stuck inside but KOTA The Friend is back to make you forget about all that for a few minutes with his latest single, “BQE”. The track marks the first single off his forthcoming album, ‘Everything’, and showcases him alongside his fellow East Coast lyrical masterminds Joey Bada$$ and Bas. It’s one thing for a collaboration to look great on paper and another for it to sound just as good in its execution, and “BQE” exemplifies both of these cases. KOTA, who’s been on a streak with the release of his ‘Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1’ project earlier this year, keeps the momentum escalating on this song. He kicks off the track with one of his one of his most impressive verses to date, attacking the beat with precision while still keeping his lyrical content 100% true to self. Joey Bada$$ and Bas both feed off the young prospect’s energy with two memorable appearances—a gift for any rap fans who’ve been fiending for new top-tier bars from either of them. New York reigns at the center of this song, both in terms of subject matter and overall vibe. From the jump, the …

Mom’s Whiskey – [Marlon Craft] ft. [Kota The Friend]

If there is anything certain about New York City, it is that hip-hop will always remain pivotal no matter what. Such a statement is illustrated through the presence of Marlon Craft, an emcee representing Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. Marlon’s rap style often incorporates advanced wordplay and witty lyricism, with poetic verses over golden era boom-bap beats. Along with his technical proficiency in rapping, Craft’s ability to craft (pun intended) an addictive chorus not only increases the replay value of his own songs, but enhances his versatility and capability as a feature artist. Notable artists and producers that Marlon has collaborated with include Dizzy Wright, Pro Era’s Nyck Caution, Statik Selektah, Black Milk, Bodega Bamz, Termanology, and Kota The Friend. My introduction to Marlon was through his phenomenal debut studio album, Funhouse Mirror, (2019) but I highly recommend browsing his entire catalog; notably, a project entitled The Tunnel’s End. Before Marlon emerged from the underground scene, much of his following was earned through impressive freestyles, cyphers, and appearances on World Emcee, previously known as ‘TEAMBACKPACK.’ For reference, peep a super dope cypher from 2017 consisting of Marlon, Radamiz, and Angelo Mota to gain a sense of Marlon’s upbringing and work ethic to reach where he …

1982: The Quarantine – [Statik Selektah] x [Termanology]

Even during a pandemic, creativity cannot be stopped! Not allowing COVID-19 to slow them down, legendary producer Statik Selektah linked up with his fellow Massachusetts native Termanology. Since 2010, the pair have gone under the duo name ‘1982,’ leading up to their best effort yet for The Quarantine, which is a ten track album entirely crafted in the span of eleven hours. Even more impressive is the fact that the making of the entire album was live-streamed, due to the respective artists having to self-isolate in light of the coronavirus. Beyond being an incredible producer and DJ, Statik Selektah seems to always get the absolute best out of the artists he works with, blessing them with his crisp boom-bap influenced sound. Moreover, Statik undoubtedly has a keen sense of who is legit, having worked with numerous greats that were largely underground at the time of their collaboration. Examples include Joey Bada$$/Pro Era, Mac Miller, Freddie Gibbs, Flatbush Zombies, Logic and Ab-Soul. Furthermore, Statik has always received acknowledgement from established hip-hop legends, ranging from Black Thought, Raekwon, Snopp Dogg, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Styles P, Crooked I, Blu, Royce Da 5’9, and more. Split by A and B sides, The Qurantine is …

Premiere: Better Than I Look – [Franky Hill]

Franky Hill returns to the Lyrical Lemonade pages as we premiere his new single “Better Than I Look.” This track is the first audio release from the New Jersey emcee since the release of his breakthrough project ‘USER’ that dropped in November of last year. Recently Hill has been on the road with buzzing Brooklyn rapper Kota The Friend for some tour days. The Kam DeLa produced single is a bouncy and breezy upbeat tune that will certainly have you humming along. The back vocals really compliment and bring Franky’s rapping to life. There’s no shortage of clever wordplay on any Franky Hill records and “Better Than I Look” follows suit with this trend as well. If you have some time to spare you can catch Franky performing with Myke Bogan in NYC tonight! Stream Franky Hill’s newest offering “Better Than I Look” below after the break.

Elevate – [Jams TFC]

Jams TFC (The Flava Child) has been making his name more and more known here on our lemon filled website, and tonight the Chicago native is back with his latest release titled “Elevate”. Jams is fresh off of a six-stop tour alongside Kota The Friend, and he credits this release as an ode to everyone that he got the chance to meet while on tour. Jams creates some soulful and straight-up beautiful music so I am always happy whenever he decides to bless us with new music, and this new joint certainly did not disappoint, this is a smooth listen so I highly suggest that you give it a spin below! A quote from JAMS; “Elevate” is all about not settling and demanding more. The hook says, “I’m not satifised I don’t wanna maintain, wanna elevate oh I wanna elevate…I spend the day making tomorrow better than yesterday, that’s what I call an elevate!” I want this song to inspire people to reach for the ultimate heights in life, because a lot of people are alive, but not a lot of people are living. 

Six Flags Drive – [Niko Blue]

Atlanta based artist Niko Blue returns with his latest single, “Six Flags Drive.” The latest offering from the rapper and producer is his melodic contender for song of the Summer. Hoping to reach those eager to submerge themselves in a body of water, Niko Blue makes a compelling case for all those looking to capture the coveted sun-soaked vibes. The song begins with a set of electric riffs that crescendo until an eventual tension release that introduces thumping bass and Niko’s signature vocals. Filled with bright textures that comprise the song’s production, Niko relishes in a playful energy, capitalizing on his skill as a rapper and vocalist. There is no doubt this record needs to be blared while in a car with friends, windows down and bass turned all the way up. Niko looks to reignite the momentum created from his Summer themed album, Me, You and Summer, released in May of last year. With artists everywhere releasing music to accommodate the increase in temperature, I don’t think it is any stretch of the imagination to say that “Six Flags Drive” deserves a spot on your “pool ready” playlist. This is Niko Blue’s first offering in a few months, coming …

FOTO – [Kota The Friend]

Where he saw room for a path, Brooklyn’s Kota The Friend created one. I’ve been aware of this budding talent for some time now, and simply by maintaining a consistent, high-quality level of output, Kota’s journey has been an undeniably lovable one. There aren’t any gimmicks involved — he makes great music, his guiding principle of authenticity never ceases to bleed through the music, and his clear creative vision has made for countless visuals and songs in the past, all of which have shown great development throughout Kota’s career. Today, these sentiments come full circle with the release of Kota The Friend’s long-awaited debut album, FOTO. 19 songs long, FOTO is definitely a longer album, but quite honestly, it gets away with it because of Kota’s storytelling abilities. His character arc throughout the album tracks the journey of someone truly questioning himself and the world around him, using the wins, the losses, and confusion as his map toward the light at the end of the tunnel. In general, the jazzy, lush instrumentals make sense for such a reflective release, and by the time the last few songs roll around, this inviting sonic environment and around-the-campfire lyricism make you feel as though you …

Birdie – [KOTA The Friend]

A calculated rollout filled with influencers, Instagram beef,  high production value videos, and merch drops is cool, but I think there something to be said for keeping things simple and organic. KOTA The Friend is a perfect example. He first came to my attention when I stumbled across his “UltraLight Beam” freestyle, and I quickly got addicted to his mini-videos, and in turn, I quickly became hip to his stellar 2018 project, Anything. Needless to say, Kota’s natural, colorful feel was super refreshing, just as he keeps up with his latest release today. A week after announcing his May-bound debut album, Foto, Kota returns with the first single, “Birdie,” and it’s the perfect introduction to those who may be new to the Brooklyn emcee. Built around a mellow, understated beat — perfect for his smooth approach — he spits a love song about his lady, which, in true Kota fashion, is littered with illusions to traveling the world. Par for the course, the effort comes with a single-shot video, reflecting his personality and easy-going, fluid style. This is yet another fantastic release from KOTA The Friend, so be sure to check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments! Extra Credit: …

Temple Priest – [MISSIO] ft. [Paul Wall] & [Kota the Friend]

Kota The Friend is one my go-to emcees for when I want to listen to something more laid-back and vibe out. So, when I saw he was attached to the new single from MISSIO, I was expecting something chill. I was wrong. Within the first two seconds, it became abundantly clear, “Temple Priest” as going to be a wild ride. MISSIO takes the reigns first, as the RCA-signed duo setting the tone with an in your face aggressive approach set off by Matthew Brue’s energetic vocals and David Butler’s EDM-singed boardwork. Considering the feel, Paul Wall and Kota The Friend are unique choices for features since have a more relaxed approach, but they both fit well and add balance to the wild, balls-to-the-wall effort. An effort you are gonna want to hear live, “Temple Priest” comes at the perfect time, with MISSIO heading out on tour this Spring. The pair are also set to drop the first installment of their two-part album, with The Darker The Weather coming in March and The Better The Man slated for a summer release. Listen to “Temple Priest” at the link provided below!