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Album Review: “To Kill a Sunrise” by Kota the Friend

     In January I wrote a piece on Kota the Friend reviewing his album “Lyrics to GO, Vol. 2.”  Exactly two months later, here we are again with Kota’s latest offering: “To Kill a Sunrise.”  This time, Kota brings along the legendary Statik Selektah to handle the production.  The result is a solid offering that continues Kota’s upward trajectory towards relevance and respect.  

     Before we get into the minutiae of the album, let’s take a look back at Kota’s past year.  In May of 2020, he released his full-length album, “Everything.” 7 months later, “Lyrics to GO” came out.  With my review, I wrote “Kota is primed for a breakout this year.  In 2021, he’s scheduled to release a “secret” collab album, a follow-up to “Everything” as well as this recent installment of “Lyrics to Go”.  So far he’s 2 for 3 and we’re only 3 months into 2021. 

“If I said it, I meant it, print it, copy and fax it”

The Cold

Kota remains one of the most honest and real emcees in the game today and his consistency and dedication to his craft have put him on a path to superstardom.  That’s none more evident than on this collab. album with Statik.  So let’s dive right into my analysis. Also, press play on the album below if you haven’t heard it yet.

Production:

     Let’s start with the production by Statik Selektah. Even if you don’t know Statik by name, I can pretty much guarantee you’ve heard his beats.  He’s worked with everyone from Joey Bada$$ to Termanology to Freddie Gibbs.  Statik is a disciple of golden age Hip Hop and you can hear it in the samples and record scratches that have become a staple in his music.  Statik is a pliable producer though.  He lets the artist’s style dictate the sound and his beats are never overbearing. 

     With Kota, Statik implements a lot of jazzy, low-key beats.  His signature scratches and samples are implemented and he also allows himself some golden age boom-bap flourishes to make this album a unique listen.  It’s undoubtedly a Kota album but Statik throws enough variety in the mix to make this album feel and sound different than previous Kota releases. 

     Typically, Kota does his own production. However, having a guy with Statik’s pedigree produce for him gives this album a levity that his previous albums don’t have. It’s a welcome change and I’d love to see Kota do more collab albums like this one.  

Lyrics:

     As usual with a Kota project, the lyrics take center stage.  Kota drops some real gems throughout “To Kill a Sunrise”.  On “Hate” he throws a shoutout to MF DOOM with “I got time sellin’ rhymes like dimes//On the grind like it’s still ’09, don’t let the mail go by”.  On “The Love” he drops some real wisdom with “Love is patient perseverance consideration//Deeper than appearances quick to air out the imitation//Bring out your power and pushing you past your limitations//Taking you to your destiny and your liberation”.  As usual, Kota also drops his motivational bars like on “Sunrise” when he proclaims “My fire is eternal, ain’t no limit to my range//My internal got me pivotin’ all through external change”.  By far my favorite line though comes from “Live & Direct: 

“A comfort zone is a bitch, I know // As long as you ain’t gettin’ out of it, then you don’t grow”

Live & Direct

     Overall, Kota continues to improve with each project.  Going back and listening to “FOTO” or even the more recent “Everything” shows just how much growth Kota has gone through in recent years.  That’s not to say that his lyrics were subpar on those projects though (far from it).  You can just tell that Kota is an artist who tirelessly works on his craft.  He wants to be great.  In my opinion, “To Kill a Sunrise” has some of the best bars of his career to this point. 

Final Thoughts:

     As you can probably tell, I love this album.  When the Statik collab was announced, I was ecstatic. It was the perfect move for Kota at this point in his career.  He’s creating a mythology that will only serve to make his next full length album a featured event.  I told you in my last review that Kota was set to have a breakout 2021 and he’s proving it so far.  

     Without looking too far ahead though, let’s just appreciate what this man is giving us in the present with “To Kill a Sunrise”.  He’s a dedicated musician who actively seeks out other artists to elevate his game. He’s honest and forthright and what he says happens.  In today’s age of hype releases and teases, Kota is a breath of fresh air. 

“Thank you for even listening, siftin’ through all the dissonance // Me and Statik consider this compilation felicitous”

Sunrise

     This album really arrived at the perfect time.  Kota’s lyrics are always positive and real and listening to him just makes you feel good.  Statik Selektah’s production is consistent and top-tier and fits Kota’s vibe perfectly.  This is an album I see myself bumping well into summer and throughout the next year.  It’s just a win all the way around. 

Rating: 9/10


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