Brooklyn-bred Kota The Friend is a rapper, singer and producer who incorporates Jazz into his reflective records. At eight years old, he started playing the trumpet which would then develop into an interest in music production during high school. He combines elements of R&B, Hip Hop and Jazz to create abstract sounds to compliment his carefully crafted, intelligent lyrics.
The Good (Interlude)
It’s about the good things. Say I asked her, “What are your favourite things about me? What do you actually like about me?” She talks about how she likes that I’m a good dad, and that I’m always passionate about what I do. I wanted to add ‘The Good’ and ‘The Bad’ interludes because I always like to show the three-dimensional side. Life is so three-dimensional, but I feel like sometimes everything is so surface level. We like to see what we like to see, we don’t want to see everything. When you’re in a relationship you see somebody for everything that they are – the good things and the bad things. We accept that in a relationship but people don’t really accept it every day out in the street. We aren’t really forgiving, we’re very critical and judgmental but relationships are safe havens where you can make mistakes and you don’t have to be perfect all the time – because we’re human. I feel like I wanted to share that with people because I wanted people to feel that way when they go through life. People aren’t perfect, and they’re not always gonna say the right thing and I’m not always gonna do the right thing, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve good things or they don’t deserve grace – everybody deserves grace, so I just wanted to add that component with the interludes.
Fireplace (feat. Jennifair)
This is when the album gets a little real because ‘Fireplace’ is like “I’m gonna be with you through it all.” It’s about me and my wife – we have a baby. That dynamic is tough, one person is working and one person is taking care of the baby. Obviously, she has her own dreams and goals that she had before she had a child, so trying to make sure that those stay intact while she is doing her duty as a mother and making my own sacrifices so that we can both have that sense of individuality – so that we can both exist as people, and as parents. I’m gonna make sure I do as much as I can when things are down or great, that you are able to have your own life, we are able to be happy and get everything. I don’t want it to be one-sided where I’m over here living my best life, and you have to be stuck with taking care of a baby all the time – we both deserve all of our dreams and I’m going to do my best to make sure that comes to fruition.
Hope You Heal
[It’s] about the people that talk about you behind your back and want to see you fail – the only healthy way to respond to those things is like “I really hope you heal because I don’t want any part in that fight.” I’m not going to respond, I’m not going to react, I just hope that whatever is bothering you and whatever is making you do these things, I hope that you heal from them and your life gets better, so one day you don’t have to bring this negativity around me and you don’t feel like you have to make my life a living hell so you can just be happy.
Forget About It (feat. Zak Abel)
‘Forget About It’ featuring Zak Abel – he was on our wedding playlist, so one of my wife’s favourite songs. It’s about always pushing forward and taking any negativity and turning it into a positive – understanding that things aren’t always gonna go your way. In fact, a lot of times things won’t go your way, but you have to just chalk it up to the game and continue moving forward. Everything is a learning lesson, but you’re gonna make it if you continue [and] stay at it.
The Bad (Interlude)
She talks about how my communication style isn’t the best that it could be, about how we both need to work on our communication. Communication is something that nobody’s an expert at, everybody’s trying to work on it because everybody grew up in a different way. I think a lot of people grew up in ways [where] communication wasn’t a big thing – people didn’t talk about everything, we want to sweep it under the rug and never talk about it. Trying to fix those problems in our relationship has been a hurdle, but it’s something that we’re constantly working on. I called it ‘The Bad (Interlude)’ because I want to show people that everybody’s dealing with that thing on every level. Sometimes people look at artists and celebrities as [if] they don’t have any problems and nothing is going wrong in their relationship but everybody’s out here dealing with communication issues and learning how to manoeuvre that.
This is one of my favourite songs of the album – I really enjoyed making the song and I remember how excited I was working on it. It sounded so different than anything I’d ever made before. It’s about somebody pulling you out of darkness; a person literally coming into your life and becoming such an important person that you don’t know who you would be if they didn’t exist in your life. It really sums up our relationship – I just talked about how I’ll give you all the love in the world because of what you do for me, what you’ve done for me [and] who you are to me. It’s that realization [that] I’m gonna love you forever because you’ve loved me at my worst and I’m gonna be there for you forever – no matter what happens, I got your back. When somebody really loves you, it’s a different kind of relationship – there’s a friendship on top of a romantic relationship, but the friendship is the roots so even if this tree gets knocked down, those roots of friendship and love are still there and I’m gonna hold you down through it all. I look at that song like it’s a thunderstorm. It’s a big rainstorm and everything is going crazy, but this tree is still holding strong.
Keep Me Goin
The album then takes a turn and goes to ‘Keep Me Goin’ which is a song about solitude and in the whole song, I’m kind of just in the mountains chillin’, enjoying being alone. I made the song part of this album, because I feel like a big part of relationships that people don’t always talk about is when you’re in a good relationship, you have to be okay with being alone – you have to be okay with yourself so that you don’t become too clingy. In relationships I feel like sometimes people end up blending into each other; It’s about being okay, being by yourself for a moment and having a understanding that when you get into a relationship, it’s supposed to be an added bonus to your life, not your entire life. I don’t need you to be around – I love when you’re around but when I’m by myself, I can be just as peaceful. I’m just as happy and when I see you that just adds [to it]. I’m already at 100%, but I’m at 150% when you’re around so that’s why we got to stick together.
Junipero Beach (Interlude)
Me and my wife, we lived in California for about a year and we lived three blocks away from the front of the beach and so every day we would take a walk on a beach with our baby. That’s where we would have a lot of our deep conversations and we talked about everything – from our parents, to our relationship, to things we want to do, things we want to achieve, the things that were currently making us sad, things that we were working through. Those walks ended up being really symbolic and the beach that we would work on is called Junipero Beach. I feel like those moments were so important that I wanted to add that to the album. You can even hear in the background, I put real sounds from us being on the beach, so it’s ambiance is there. If you ever walked on Junipero Beach, you’d be able to hear the same sounds.
It’s a simple love song – “I don’t want anybody else, I only want you” – just expressing it. It’s a lot of people in the world but I just see you, at the end of the day I’m happy to come home to you. I want you to tell me about how your day went and I’m not really interested in everybody else’s day as much as I’m interested in yours. Always wanting to make sure that somebody’s okay, I think that’s how you know that you really want to be with somebody – when you just always want to make sure they’re good even if you’re not around. Even if we’re not together, I still want to make sure you’re okay and that’s why we got to be together because I gotta make sure that you’re okay all the time and if I can’t do that, then it’ll drive me crazy.
Road Rage (Feat. Aloe Blacc)
That song is saying [that] I’m not in competition with anybody or anything. I am just trying to do my best. I’m going at my own speed and I’m grateful for the things that I have in my life. I’m grateful for the people I have in my life and I used that song as the outro just to wrap it up and to be like “I am appreciative of the things I do have and I’m always moving forward in my own lane.”
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