Photo: Pia Fergus
Earlier this month, hip-hop fans everywhere rejoiced with the long-awaited release of To Kill A Sunrise, the collaborative record between NY rapper Kota The Friend and legendary Boston producer Statik Selektah. If you're reading this, it's safe to say that neither of these guys are new names.
On one hand we have Kota The Friend, who despite his status as one of the hottest new rappers right now, is fresh off the success of two full-length records released over the past year. On the other hand we have producer heavyweight Statik Selektah, who has worked with Bun B, Nas, Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T., and more over the past decade. The question begs to be asked though: What happens when you put two artists with an insurmountable amount of talent, potential, and personality into a studio? The answer? You get one of the best albums released this year.
If Lyrics to GO, Vol. 2 was Kota's victory lap, then consider this one Kota hopping back into the ring. Unlike his last record, To Kill A Sunrise sees Kota thematically meditating on his past and present rather than his future, trading his signature laid-back tone for a more energetic register. Over 34 minutes of classic mixes that only an East Coast legend could provide, Kota refuses to hold back this time around, dishing out punches with a surgical precision.
From the project's opening strings and woodwinds on "Wolves" to the horns on the closing track "Sunset," Kota remains consistently at the top of his game, despite the surprise switch in style. He says it best with the impassioned line "I'm not the same Kota you first met," whose delivery resembles a killer-left hook more than it does a spoken-word poem.
Together, Statik Selektah and Kota offer fans a record that is familiar yet brand new, dynamic yet consistent, thoughtfully precise without forgoing Kota's signature pensive style. Having made two of the year's hottest records, one can only imagine what is next for Kota and Statik Selektah after To Kill A Sunrise.
Listen To Kill A Sunrise below: