Kota the Friend talks about his music influences, Brooklyn, and being on tour
Article & photos By Asar John
Brooklyn-born rapper Kota the Friend closed his first 20-city tour as the main act on Nov. 25 with his final stop landing him right back home: New York City.
For this introspective rapper from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the “Flowers For My Friends” tour pulls at the heartstrings, telling ClintonHill.com about his fans sharing the emotional experience of listening to his music.
“I was able to hear so many stories about how my music has gotten so many people through tough times,” said Kota, whose tour hit both coasts and also Canada.
“I can write about whatever I’m going through in my life at that moment, and then I find out that many people go through the same things,” said Kota, adding that fans consistently reach out about his music helping them with depression battles.
Like many rappers before him, his discography assures an homage to the borough of Kings with songs such as “Brooklyn Bodega” and “Go Brooklyn.”
“Brooklyn is just this cool and unique place,” said Kota. “Where I grew up in Clinton Hill is special because there’s a lot of art and creativity all around so you’re automatically influenced by the surroundings.”
Kota’s Brooklyn experience runs the gamut from trumpet playing at middle school in Clinton Hill and during high school in Prospect Heights, to his family across town in Brownsville and East New York. A culmination of people, instruments and places all contribute to Kota’s methodical wordplay, shouting out his mom as a natural contributor to his creativity and even welcomed his six-year old son to perform alongside him at the Irving Plaza show.
“I think everything that we do in our lives kind of shapes and influences what we do later in life,” said the rapper. “My later albums just show the progression in writing and production quality.”
Kota delves into his latest album, “Protea,” which introduces bouncy, feel-good beats throughout the tracks. The radiance of “Protea” is especially felt in songs like “Barcelona”, “Forget About It” and “Nobody.”
“I think it’s definitely focused on good vibes and the positivity that I was feeling while I was making that album,” said Kota. “That’s what I was going for and I think it resonated with people who just love good music and lyrics.”
Asking Kota how he’s been a machine of productivity with the The “Flowers For My Friends” tour and the release of three albums and 12 singles this year, he said, “that’s the beauty of being independent… I can do what I want.”
He even created his own music label, FLTBYS (Flight Boys), which doubles as a clothing brand.
“We all have a lot to say but I’m blessed to be able to put it on paper and then turn it into a song, whenever I want.
Fans of Kota can look forward to a new album, “Lyrics to Go Vol. 5”, dropping in January, a children’s book series and a set of vinyls for the five-part “Lyrics to Go” series that details songs on each individual album, and plans for a tour abroad in China and South Africa in 2024.