Exclusive: Kota The Friend Discusses Foto, Music Videos, and His Junior High Teacher!

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Kota The Friend’s most recent project, FOTO, begins with a spoken word piece told from the perspective of an older neighbor to the rapper.Kota comes from the well known neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and draws influence from all different sources, his adolescence being a large one. Throughout the album, Kota touches on a variety of topics including: his neighborhood, child, love and more.. In the midst of rolling out his Debut Album, we sat down with Kota to discuss some of his work.

DailyChiefers: How has growing up in Brooklyn informed your music?

Kota: I think when you hear “FOTO” you’ll hear more of how Brooklyn has inspired my music. If you listen to some of my lyrics to go episodes you’ll hear the Nas, Jay Z and Biggie type flows and lyricism. I grew up with those guys in my headphones. I tell stories that you might only understand if you grew up where and how we did.
DailyChiefers: In a majority of your music videos, you include subtitles. Why? Is it a stylistic choice, what purpose does it serve?
Kota: It started off as a way to make the video more interesting along with me just being stationary at angle and rapping to the camera. When I was in Paris a fan told me that they love the subtitles because they’re able to see what I’m saying while they’re hearing it. It helped them translate and connect easier. Ever since he told me that I vowed to put subtitles in all of my videos.
DailyChiefers: Why are you the Rap Banksy?
Kota: [Laughs] I’m the Rap Banksy because I pop up randomly in different parts of the city, create art, post it online and people bug out over the fact that I was in their area shooting a video while people are just passing me by, going about their lives.
DailyChiefers: On your single Birdie you rap, “I was in survival mode, Now I got a lot to lose.” Talk a little bit about what you mean by that? Is this strictly in terms of finding a partner you care about?
Kota: When you’re in survival mode and just trying to make it to the next day, you only think of protecting yourself. When you actually get out of that struggle and then you find someone that you love you have to re-evaluate the situation. You have to get used to not having to struggle for everything and put that energy into loving this person.
DailyChiefers: Where did you draw influences from on your upcoming release, FOTO?
Kota: I drew from the neighborhood I grew up in, Hey Arnold, Romance Films, my childhood and teenagehood. I took a little from everywhere.
DailyChiefers: How was linking with Saba?
Kota: Saba’s a really cool dude and a really great artist. We linked when he and Pivotgang were in New York on their press run for their album. He wrote that verse in like 20 minutes and recorded it in less than 15. It was cool to watch.
DailyChiefers: You mentioned you had your Junior High Teacher playing Sax on this project, how did that come together?
Kota: He works in the neighborhood I grew up in. I was visiting my mom and I saw him at the local bagel shop. I instantly knew that it would be great if he got on my album. A week later he tracked the saxes and we got it mixed down. Thats it.

“FOTO” by Kota The Friend is now currently available on all major streaming platforms!

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