If you haven't been paying attention, New York City is starting to bubble again. The music scene is starting to get some looks and Brooklyn's KOTA The Friend is one of the young artists that's turning heads. After his single "Customs" began to get traction, fans started to flock. Now that the spotlight is beginning to creep up on KOTA, the time is now to show and prove.

"For 2016, I have my 2nd single "rivers" coming out, I have my debut EP coming out in June, I'm releasing some music videos and touring this year," he told XXL. Get to know him here on The Break.

Name: KOTA The Friend

Age: 23

Hometown: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

I Grew Up Listening to: I grew up listening to Lauryn Hill, Jay Z, Nas and Eminem. I've always been a musician. If I had to put a time on it I would say I became an artist in 2009. I think that I've always been a bit misunderstood. Through music and art I've been able to talk to people and they've been talking back.

Kanye West's "All Falls Down" is the song that impacted me the most because it was the first piece of music I consciously chose myself with no outside influences. It was a sound that I hadn't heard before. [It] was stuck in my head and it made me a fan instantly. It made me aware of a lot of things about myself musically and made me respond and that's how I know if something impacts me or if something I hear is fulfilling.

My Style has Been Compared to: My style has been compared to A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, ?uestlove and Kendrick [Lamar]. I binge listened to all kinds of artists to the point where I can speak on The Beatles' discography in-depth as well as Jay Z's. I taught myself piano, guitar and bass guitar, which put me in the perfect position to produce my own music. My music became a fusion of Jay Z, Nas, Jimi Hendrix, A Tribe Called Quest, D'Angelo, Bob Dylan, Ingrid Michaelson and more. I used all that I learned from rock, hip-hop, soul and folk music to create a unique sound that I never really strayed from.

Most people don’t know: I'm a professional cinematographer and techie. I've worked with Asher Roth, Blu and other artists on multiple projects. While music is my first love, I want to direct videos and want my music to be used to score films.

My standout records and/or moments to date have been: One of the things that stands out to me in this moment is my debut single, "Customs." It was the first official single off my EP and I didn't know how people would respond. It has gotten over 17K streams on SoundCloud and the video is out. I've been getting a lot of love online and making new fans everyday. That is one of the reasons I do music. The first moment was opening for Slum Village because it was the group that J dilla produced. Dilla was a big inspiration for me as far as producing is concerned.

My Goal in hip-hop: My goal in hip-hop is to tour internationally and play at Barclay's and make music that resonates with all different types of people, no matter where you come from. I just want to be able to make a living off of making music that allows me to reach people, live off the grid and take care of my family.

I’m Going to be the next: I'm going to be the next song stuck in your head that has been written and produced by me. That is my goal, make more fans, get more people to know about me and my music and work with some of my favorite artists. I'm also going to be the next person you follow on IG and Twitter [laughs].

Follow KOTA The Friend on Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud.

Standout: "Rivers"


"Black Friday"

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