Listening to Kota the Friend’s music is like smoking; draw his music in, hold it in your lungs and slowly exhale. It will make your heart beat faster, your head swim. And it will stay with you. We have been fans of Kota’s for a while, waiting in anticipation for his sophomore project ‘Paloma Beach’ and finally it’s here and every bit as good as we expected. If not better.
On the surface ‘Paloma Beach’ is a super smooth anthology where dreamy rhymes are drizzled over chilled soundscapes and nostalgic jazz samples. However, dig deeper and there are narratives about mental health, depression and getting through life as a young man, a father. The kind of subjects that tend to be marginalised in hip-hop. Kota is only 23, but his somewhat retro style, poignant introspection, and discerning lyrics tell the tale of someone who is much more mature; someone who has been making music for decades. It’s pretty mind-blowing when you think about it. Kota describes himself as an “old soul” and this is apparent when you listen to his music which is incredibly sophisticated.
Kota describes Paloma as being a type of pigeon and a “New York City staple” where they choose to stay in the city even though their wings can take them anywhere. Relating this to his own feelings, being confined and haunted by his past, “Paloma Beach is a safe space where you won’t be judged for being imperfect and can find peace in this hostile world.”
It’s very difficult to pick out standout tracks as you have to let the whole project wash over you; rippling rhymes and a resilient flow of serenity. However, if I have to choose; ‘Pasadena’ Ft. Asher Roth awakens something inside of me from the gorgeous saxophone gliding over layers of sparkling beats to Asher’s slick verse which complements Kota’s flow. ‘Issa Moment’ Ft. Aja Adam has a smooth beat which glides over icy synths and crystal vocals. The head nodding breezy vibe of ‘Lawn Chair’ and its catchy hook and the vintage, sun-drenched feel of ‘Sun Lady’ Ft. Ol’ Soul & Emma. And of course the mellow ‘Like Water’ which is a river of beats and textures sprinkled with contemporary lifestyle references. ‘Pigeon Outro’ feat. Bridget Perez is an appropriate finale; a heartfelt confessional piece with introspective reflection, “little pigeon fly”.
‘Paloma Beach’ is an open book in which Kota’s self-examination bleeds onto the page. It’s insightful and incredibly refined with a huge depth of range. It needs to be savoured like an Amaretto Sour; let it slide down sticky sweet and slip nicely into your bloodstream.
You can purchase ‘Paloma Beach’ on iTunes
Read our interview with Kota the Friend.