By Ryan Croke
On March 19, rapper Kota The Friend dropped his newest album: a brief, 10 track collaboration with producer Statik Selektah titled To Kill A Sunrise. I have just recently been getting into Kota’s music, and I have some thoughts on the new project from him I wanted to share with you. I am not going to write a track by track analysis in this article, or from here on out, as it drags out the article and I think it would be best to just analyze the album as a whole.
Kota The Friend is an independent artist who isn’t particularly well known, but is definitely on the come up in the music industry, dropping extremely strong lyrics over light, soft, infectious instrumentals. I really enjoy his music, and I think he is definitely worthy of more praise and recognition from the general public. His latest record, To Kill A Sunrise, is definitely showcasing his talent and his ability to pick out a beat, because it is an absolute pleasure to listen to the 33 minute project. Statik Selektah, who has maybe the worst name for a producer I have ever seen, is actually extremely talented from what I can tell, and creates lighthearted beats featuring many different instruments that make me feel like I am walking on clouds. It is the perfect album to put on if you are just going on a summer or spring walk, and I will definitely be doing that as the weather continues to get warmer. Kota The Friend adds a very impressive set of lyrics that I wasn’t expecting from him. He frequently mentions his son, his drive to succeed, among other things, and I am very impressed with the growth he has made on this album as a lyricist.
It is a very easy album to listen to, standing at only 33 minutes, and the beats are easy to get sucked into. I had the album on repeat for hours on the weekend after it’s release, and I continue to listen to it often. The use of the saxophone throughout the project is incredible, and I haven’t seen many saxophones be used in rap songs these days, and I like the fresh and relaxing sound created by Statik Selektah. The opening track Wolves features a more high energy beat, with lyrics from Kota that are extremely impressive, referencing the game of chess quite often, calling people pawns of society in an impressive showing from Kota. Another standout is track 3, The Cold, in which Kota says he is going to ignore what everyone says about him and enjoy his life. The chorus on the song is great, and the deeper meanings of the lyrics in it are incredible. Go Now, another great song, he speaks of wondering how to treat a girl he loves, and the feature from Halle Supreme on the chorus is wonderful, simply asking, “where are we supposed to go now?” The album ends incredibly strongly, with a great three song run that closes out the album. Day Glow, song 8, is a favorite of mine, and Kota raps about a road trip he is on, times he remembers fondly, and the chorus is amazing, as most of them on the album are, and Kota raps about relaxing outside soaking in the day glow in the sunset. The final two songs go hand in hand, Sunrise and Sunset, Sunrise being the first of the two. Sunrise uses the saxophone well, but not until the final minute of the track. The lyrics are great, maybe the best on the album, and possibly my favorite lyric of the album comes in the first verse, when Kota says, “Peace, knowledge and dividends, love is still trumpin’ Benjamins.” It makes me smile every time I listen to it, and yet again, the beat is incredible. The final song, Sunset, is my favorite track on the album, and the instrumental of this track is easily the best on this album. The genius use of the saxophone is on full display here, as it softly rings throughout the song. The use of horns is also masterful. The transition into this track from Sunrise is absolutely perfect as well, and I definitely recommend listening to them in succession for the best experience. The chorus is yet again masterful, and it’s my favorite song of the year so far.
To sum it all up, To Kill A Sunrise is an extremely impressive showing from both Kota The Friend and Statik Selektah, and definitely an album I will be listening to a lot for months and years to come. It is the perfect album to play on a summer walk, and the summer feel of the album is wonderful, and I can’t help but smile while listening to every song. Most artists would allow the masterful production on this record to steal the show, but Kota’s lyricism is top notch, and he rides the beat perfectly on every song. His flow is incredible, and I am extremely impressed with his improvements on this album. I will be keeping To Kill A Sunrise in the rotation for a long time. My initial rating for this album is an 8/10, although this is subject to change.
Listen to To Kill A Sunrise by Kota The Friend with Statik Selektah