Kota the Friend Takes a Victory Lap on “Lyrics to Go Vol. 2”

On Lyrics to GO Vol. 2, KOTA the Friend delivers his signature laid-back raps with an extra dose of reflection this time around. This mixtape precedes the release of his upcoming third studio record, but in the meantime, KOTA has decided to treat fans with another entry in his Lyrics to GO series. Clocking in at just over 15 minutes long, KOTA offers raw and unfiltered meditations on his own fame, work, and family in the midst of his booming success.

After the critical acclaim following last year's record "Everything," it is refreshing to hear KOTA the Friend branch out and explore new ideas and themes. Though his jazzy and lo-fi register remains intact, he brings an undeniable energy and passion onto Lyrics to GO Vol. 2 - one that magnifies his naturally thoughtful personality. Many of the tracks center on tension and self-doubt, with KOTA both looking back longingly, and moving forward cautiously. Though things are going well for him, he can't help but be skeptical of those around him while dwelling on his own perceived shortcomings. Despite the struggles that he still faces, KOTA ultimately resolves to love where he's at, himself, and those around him.

Like KOTA the Friend himself, the production on Lyrics to GO Vol. 2  is also meaningful and pensive. The two opening songs, "Clinton Hill" and "Luke Cage," feature distinctly rose-colored and nostalgic mixes with vintage keys and classic percussion tracks. Both sport verses from KOTA reminiscing while striving to stay true to himself. KOTA's authenticity and vulnerability are amplified by tracks like "Broken," where he looks within over an organ track that gives the song an almost confessional tone. Many of the other tracks have instrumentals full of piano melodies, steady drums, and acoustic guitar, though none stand out more than the tape's closer "Flowers." As if KOTA is literally picking himself off the ground, the summerlike and flourishing mix serves as a foundation for lines like "Get my woman flowers every week cause she deserve it" and "You can hit the gym, get your cash up and better yourself / but it's important that you love where you're at." Though KOTA acknowledges that things may be far from perfect, he finds serenity in knowing that he is enough.

Though few know when exactly KOTA the Friend's next album will release, it seems like he is patiently taking his time and enjoying life in the process. On Lyrics to GO Vol. 2 the Brooklyn rapper makes it clear that he is entering a new chapter in his life, and though he is not completely anxiety-free, he is still embracing the change. In the wake of the massive popularity of his last record, this mixtape serves as a huge 'thank you' to KOTA's fans, celebrating those that helped elevate him to the status he has now. Though the wait will not be an easy one, KOTA the Friend's next record will certainly be something to look out for.