Published May 22, 2019A best-kept secret for fans since the release of his Palm Tree Liquor EP, Brooklyn-bred MC Kota the Friend has just released his fourth project — being billed as his debut — FOTO. Though you may have noticed an abundance of good looks, and early success of the project may suggest the secret is out, day one fans can revel in the fact that this latest collection is every bit the Kota they've come to hold so dear to their hearts.
Accentuated with gorgeous, mellow soundscapes, largely produced by Kota himself, the 19-song work is an absolutely gorgeous collection of lush, honest, upper echelon hip-hop that deserves to be slowly sipped and savoured.
There is a really comfortable balance on this collection of music. There are airy tracks like "Bagels" that intertwine brimming confidence with underlying admission of insecurities and social anxiety, while the more bar-heavy "Koala" meshes with these lighter bangers like "Backyard."
Unpacking this project, though, you uncover the shiniest gems, like "Mommy," which is a carefully constructed narrative illustrating a disconnect between a mother's perceived idea of doing what's best for her son, versus the reality of how her lifestyle is creating adverse effects in her son's life.
The project's crown jewel, though, is "Solar Return" featuring Saba, which, among other things, is a love letter to his son — and an ultimate reassurance that he'll return as he embarks on another tour.
Frankly difficult to concisely sum up, Kota — for those new to him — continues to exist as a walking illustration of hip-hop with all the noisy extras stripped. Timeless without sounding dated, poignantly insightful (see "For Colored Boys") without being preachy or overbearing, and endearingly approachable musically, FOTO is musical chicken soup for the soul worthy of multiple replays. If you're still complaining about the genre in 2019, this one is a must. (Independent)