Kota has always been a rapper with a unique mystique behind his rhythmic pattern, flowing multi-syllabic lines with ease, like on “The Cold,” off his new album with producer Statik Selektah, To Kill A Sunrise. His flows have these intricate pauses that enforces the period and comma with what he wants to get across. That has been an M.O. of his through his career with albums, mixtapes, and loosies of two minute or less songs of verses that never made a cut. And while last year’s Everything is the better project by Kota recently, the amount of effort put in by both artist/producer is on wave all its own.
Statik Selektah opens To Kill A Sunrise with these melodic undertones on the percussion centric production on the track “Wolves,” as Kota the Friend demonstrates a mental flex, that resonates with the strengths to match wits with his toughest critics. It shows his endurance mentally as his critics take him down. Something that becomes a common approach throughout the album. And the smooth DJ scratches during the last third of the track leaves an imprint for a modern nostalgia many “old heads” of hip-hop still yearn for. It’s these DJ scratches and at-times subtle saxophones and trumpets weave the story with Kota the Friend. He lets the instrumental act as the holster, while his flow is the pistol and the wisdom in his words as the bullets.
The first half of To Kill A Sunrise has loose interpretations of themes based around stories and faux-pa knowledge of his standing as a musician, like doubt of success from the critics. He expresses the doubt he gets along the way, but it’s all love for him. The kind of rapper Kota is, isn’t the one to hit mainstream radio waves in the same way artists like Pop Smoke and DaBaby do. But he ignores it to paint pictures the only way he knows how to.
On the other half, the music/content evolves into demonstrations where Kota mirrors his success and stature to that of the past with his ever growing presence today. Through his chill approach the words emphasize with the flow of the beat, showing a lyricist hungry to be one of the best of his class. He is at his peak where everything begins to meld in transition where it feels like a constant flow without those second pauses the music player gives you in between tracks.
Statik Selektah’s production is a continuation of his consistently great repertoire that maintains great equilibrium with the rappers he works with. With releases of many albums, his connections hold no bounds and seeing who he wants to work with only boosts the quality we receive. The jazz-boom bap production that flows with the grooves of the horn sections is a perfect background body to attach to Kota’s brains, even with typical young rapper mistakes like the weak choruses. And that’s the only true deterrent, wherein Kota does his best to fit with the pattern and most times the delivery is choppy. It makes you forget the man is really on here spitting wicked great rhymes.
Working with Statik Selektah has allowed him to evolve his sound beyond the “chill” demeanor of his sonic textures. And though it shows evidently, the production has given him a new platform, which mixes the old soul within with instrumentals more akin to his strengths like the jazz orchestrations.
To Kill A Sunrise delivers on what Kota fans should expect from the rapper and most times a bit more with his own individual growth. He might not amass equivalent popularity as the New York drill scene has amassed through recent years, but has the capability to stand on his own to mirror the success of similar rappers like the Flatbush Zombies. However his ceiling is higher and will continue to be a growing force in New York Hip-Hop.