Jack Carenza - March 27, 2023

Kota the Friend, Statik Selektah Flawless on ‘To See a Sunset’

Kota the Friend and Statik Selektah faced a seemingly impossible task with the creation and release of To See a Sunset.  The album dropped almost exactly two years to the day of the critically acclaimed To Kill a Sunrise, which serves as a lofty, arbitrary measuring stick.  One that, from the get-go, felt insurmountable, unattainable. Yet once again, the duo managed to re-raise the bar, with a second timeless album.  One that might, in fact, be better than the first.   

To See a Sunset is a masterpiece that exemplifies the best of both worlds in the hip-hop genre. The project is a testament to the incredible chemistry that exists between two, complimentary savants.  Kota and Statik effortlessly blend their unique styles, find common ground, and challenge each other to elevate.  Ultimately creating a cohesive and addictive listening experience.

Throughout the album, the marriage between Statik’s Golden Era expertise and Kota’s pinpoint lyricism at its essence is evident. The project is a beautiful blend of old-school hip-hop with modern sensibility, making it accessible to a wide range of listeners.

To See a Sunset 

As always, Statik Selektah’s production is top-notch. His ability to craft beats that perfectly complement Kota’s diverse delivery, and disparate moods seems second nature. The production throughout is understated yet powerful, creating a perfect platform that allows the lyrics to shine.

To See a Sunset begins with a beautifully sampled joint titled High Noon.  Statik chops Loleatta Holloway’s 1975 soul classic I’ll Be Gone.  Kota’s verses are packed with trademark introspective and inspirational lyricism, encouraging listeners to stay true to themselves, work hard, and strive for greatness.  Kota’s flow is butter on this one, with wordplay and metaphors to match.  And Statik’s soul seeps in, with uplifting notes that soar across the heady bars.  

“It’s high noon, ain’t nothing fucking with my mood/I’m on fire my nigga, I cannot lose./I’m top 2, a lot of you know it’s not news/Had to get the chains off just so I can drop jewels.”  

Following the album’s lead single Real Ones, is Elevator, with its sultry sax intro and celestial soundscapes.  The song opens with Kota the Friend sitting on the top floor, sipping tea and doing yoga.  Specifically enjoying his own company away from the noisy crowd. He raps about how he is not one to follow the crowd. About how he is accountable for his own actions. The chorus “The elevator don’t go down” emphasizes the message of always striving for growth and progress.  He talks about investing in property and cashing out and reveling in luxury that he never had before. His perspective is one of hope, as he encourages listeners to part with the past and focus on the present.

One of To See a Sunset’s clear highlights has to be track four, Go Brooklyn, which pays homage to the essence of Kota’s hometown, and its importance to his identity.  The lyrics reflect on the struggles and triumphs of growing up in Brooklyn. As well as the challenges and opportunities that come with living in a city that is both gritty and dynamic.

He speaks candidly about the harsh realities of life in the city. From the snakes in the grass to the crabs in the barrel. “Must come a time when the city take yo innocence/Gotta stay alive bro, wise, stay vigilant.” But despite these challenges, he remains proud of his roots and the community that has shaped him into the person he is today.  Kota references the personal significance of landmarks like Clinton Hill and Bushwick. As well as the diverse array of people who call the borough home. By doing so, he celebrates the vibrant tapestry of cultures and experiences that make Brooklyn such a unique and special place.

Eye See U is another personal favorite of ours.  With its prismatic, wavy chords, and steady percussion, the instrumental is undeniably entrancing.  Kota’s lyricism tackles the idea of protecting someone, presumably his children, from a world that is spiteful, vindictive, and quick to judge.  Kota knows that jealousy, fake friends, and manipulative people will never disappear.  But through thick and thin, he’ll be there to protect the people that matter most through those harsh realities.  

To See a Sunset concludes with 5-minute+ Thank You, a gorgeous track split into two parts with a tasteful beat switch.  Kota’s songwriting is honest and heartfelt, as he expresses gratitude for his wife, children, and family, as well as his fans and supporters. He also acknowledges the imperfections and the struggles he has faced. However, Kota remains grateful for the people and fans who have helped him through it all.