Written by ∆³

Care to guess the world’s most popular genre of music? If you guessed Hip-Hop, then you guessed right. However, that fact begs a myriad of questions. One of them includes the number of artists who call themselves rappers or emcees. A quick search on the web, or even the various music streaming services, should get you to a pretty firm answer: a lot. With so many Hip-Hop and Rap artists, how does one artist in an enormously popular genre stand out? It could be content, it could be character behind the mic, it could even be where the artist is from that sets her or him apart to listeners. When I heard KOTA THE FRIEND’s Hip Hop Single, ”Backyard,” it stood out to me as a song with style, new school nuance, and perhaps a more old school Hip Hop outlook. 

KOTA THE FRIEND is a 26 year old rapper, who hails from the birthplace of Hip-Hop: New York City. He grew up listening to personal favorites of my own like Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Quest, Eminem, and the Roots. KOTA asserts that Kanye’s “All Falls Down,” spiraled him into the creative whirl of music making. His catalogue has weaved together an impressive stream of EP’s, singles, and features and he is even a highly acclaimed professional cinematographer who aspires to someday play at the Barclays, and tour internationally.

Despite KOTA’s youngish age, he endears listeners with an almost seasoned type of sound that likely evolved from working behind the scenes with artists like Asher Roth & Blu. He self taught himself guitar, piano, and bass guitar, which were superb creative pathways toward producing his own music. KOTA touts that he’s very excited about the music he’s released, but he’s even more excited about the music he’s going to make. KOTA THE FRIEND’s Music can be streamed on Apple Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, and YouTube Music. 

From the outset, the production on “Backyard” is playful, energetic, and emblematic of the 90’s Hip Hop term, ‘dug from the crates’ (which basically means it has got a lit sample). For the first few seconds of KOTA’s latest Single, you’ll wonder if it will venture too far into Pop for the Hip Hop vibe that KOTA inspires, but once he starts spitting, you’ll breathe a refreshed sigh of Rap relief.

KOTA goes in for listeners about the hope for a good day in the hood; partying, dancing, perhaps dating, and the minced reality, that it could all evolve and dissolve into street aggression which helps stabilize the listen on “Backyard.”

“Pour the drink, roll it up, / make a toast, light it up… / It’s a vibe, you can dance, if you want to… / Someone’s looking at you from the side, what you wanna do?” It’s as if KOTA’s skillful writing and laid back flow on “Backyard” playfully entertains and successfully sustains the reality of life in the hood. The more you listen to it, the more you’ll both like and buy what KOTA’s vision is creatively selling.

Backyard is a tune about chillin’ in your hometown with your day 1 friends,” says KOTA.

KOTA THE FRIEND’s “Backyard” works in a refreshed way, where newer Rap acts are at times forced into redundancy. With the vast assortment of Hip-Hop appreciators, there are seemingly a fewer amount of Hip-Hop experiences that get shared on its more popularized platforms. When you hear artists like KOTA, who are obviously fans of the craft, then you’re more likely to get more than just a song; you actually get an experience. In the case of “Backyard” the experience is balanced and well thought of, and it’ll be cool to see KOTA and his team get recognition for it.

It may take a while, but typically artists like KOTA gain their deserved Rap notoriety with time. If you really look at it, such is typically the standard for all musicians in any genre. With that being said, I have no reason to front when I say this: “Backyard” by KOTA THE FRIEND, should get lots of play in our up and coming Summer song playlists.

Listen To “Backyard”


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