As the Chicago stop on Kota the Friend’s Flight Night Festival approaches, it is essential to remember the true purpose of the tour, and of the fltbys brand. That mission is clearly restated in a fltbys Instagram Post:
“Ever since 2008 we’ve been giving people the opportunity to get on stage, when no one else was giving the opportunity,” said Kota. “Fltbys has always been a young company of people who just want to do something but have no platform.”
Embracing the concept of connecting up-and-coming talent to their community, we will showcase a stacked lineup of opening acts in Chicago, before Kota takes the stage at The Metro on April 29th. One of those performers will be nostalgic and easygoing rhyme-smith Kuhlahbee.
Originally from Lansing, Michigan, just a few hours from Chicago, Kuhlahbee embraces the grind of an independent musician with enthusiasm and hustle. He constantly travels between Chicago and Orlando, FL, capitalizing on the best opportunities each city has to offer. Kuhlahbee’s music is quite versatile. Some tracks are upbeat, playful, and imaginative (think a KYLE or Aminé type sound), while others are introspective, and uber-focused on success.
“When the invite for me to come perform came in, it felt unreal. I thought I was getting scammed. I kept thinking any second, they’re gonna ask for my social security and my debit card pin. This is such a true inspiration to keep grinding, this is more than exposure and opportunity.”
Beat selection is a key to the transition between these two disparate sounds. Songs like Money Behavior are bouncier, with trap style percussion, where the more thoughtful joints like One-Handed favor Lofi melodies with subdued, classic drums. Kuhlahbee is intentional about using each instrumental by matching mood, vocal performance, and layering to the beat. One-Handed even utilizes a delicate and crisp hook from singer Melissa Lee which mesh laid-back bars with the luscious nature of the instrumental’s flute rifts.
Kuhlahbee strives to achieve greatness. That hunger often manifests itself in his music. Consider, for example, the motivated lyricism of 2021 single Checklist. [“Can’t come to the phone, I’m just busy trying new shit/They ask me how I feel so I tell them what the truth is/That I don’t give a damn if it ain’t fam or the music/I stay on the move and I ain’t even put on shoes yet.”]
Kuhlahbee broke down his creative process by describing two distinct sides of himself that directly correlate to the power behind a song. “My songs Checklist and Decorated represent my two different moods. Decorated comes from my creative side. The mood I like to call the ‘restless dreamer’. It’s about manifestation. Checklist represents me chasing those dreams and getting in these moods where I don’t really feel like going out or texting anyone back. I’m hyperfocused on winning and thinking what it takes to expand as both an artist and as a person.” These two sides of Kuhlahbee create an endearing nuance in his music, and work together to define both the artist and the person.
Clearly, Kuhlahbee approaches his status as an independent musician with tenacity. However, he recognizing the challenges that autonomy can present: “As an independent artist I would say one of the hardest challenges is marketing and finding unique ways to stand out in such an overpopulated industry. Some of the greatest music made is undiscovered. An artist can die without people hearing it if there isn’t enough exposure.” The difficulties of promotion in an oversaturated industry are obvious. However, Kuhlahbee’s work ethic and determination will serve him well. Sharing the stage with an artist like Kota the Friend certainly won’t hurt either.
Kota’s fans will appreciate Kulahbee’s honest writing, and adaptable sounds. He is truly appreciative of the moment and seemingly predicted it in a past conversation with friends. “Kota is such a big inspiration. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he and his music represent. Kota’s music always felt like the one woke friend that understands what you’re going through. Who wants to see you and everyone around him do better. I haven’t even met him yet, but I feel like I have.”
He went on to say: “What’s crazy is just last year I vividly remember telling my Chicago crew and my Orlando crew. ‘Y’all wait one day I’m gonna be up there with Kota’. When the invite for me to come perform came in, it felt unreal. I thought I was getting scammed. I kept thinking any second, they’re gonna ask for my social security and my debit card pin. This is such a true inspiration to keep grinding, this is more than exposure and opportunity. This a landmark moment, achieving goals that I set and told myself would be finished. This is manifestation at its highest!”
Kuhlahbee’s appreciation for the moment, and his drive to succeed are a sure combination for a successful performance in Chicago.
Stay tuned as we will be highlighting each local act on the roster for Chicago Flight Night. Limited tickets are still available.