Today’s Song: Kota the Friend Leaves No Room for Greed on “Alabama Hills”

Kota the Friend "Alabama Hills" © 2024
Kota the Friend "Alabama Hills" © 2024
A brilliant focal point from Kota the Friend’s new mixtape ‘Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5,’ “Alabama Hills” tackles the entitlement of others in light of hard-earned success.
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Stream: “Alabama Hills” – Kota the Friend

Ten full-length projects since the start of the decade. That’s different.

An album and a mixtape a year is no small feat, and within the scope of hip-hop, that frequency often translates to half-baked nonsense. Kota the Friend has conversely proven that quantity and quality are not mutually exclusive. Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5 hit streaming services on Jan. 25 and established itself as the best installment into the series yet. Rich with personal depth and boasting an array of legendary producers such as Hit-Boy, Statik Selektah and Exile, the Brooklyn native has shown again that label support is not necessary to take music above and beyond.

Such a production team would inevitably lead to a good time. Nonetheless, Kota is notorious for manning all stations on much of his work, and the personality of his music shines brightest from his home studio. This is true of “Alabama Hills,” the third single from LTGV5.

Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5 - Kota the Friend
Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5 – Kota the Friend

One thing is immediately apparent on this track. Kota returns to the second-person point of view characteristic of his most moving tracks, examples being “Daylight” and “For Colored Boys” exploring toxic relationships and unity among black men alike. When Kota is in this element, he makes the listener feel the weight of the conversation being had as if it were happening before their eyes.

With its subject matter revolving around loved ones feeling both upset with Kota’s success and entitled to a slice of it, “Alabama Hills” transports the listener to a screaming match in the kitchen while giving the feel of storming out and driving away. Muted guitars start dancing with one another as the listener looks out the window and reflects on grievances:

You can’t even get back to your friends
Family only see you at the funerals
Where does it end
Do you even have friends
Only got energy for your children
Ain’t nothing left for the rest of us
I thought I was the best of us

Mindfulness of time spent together masks a selfishness that insists Kota either pause his work or share the fruits of his labor. An independent career of his length is sure to be defined by dedication and sacrifice. Human nature disallows people from being able to appreciate that. Instead, the third verse opens the way for greed to bleed through – “people ask why you ain’t putting me on” – and tear the rapper down.

Kota the Friend © Leandro Lara
Kota the Friend © Leandro Lara
You the one that made it
You supposed to be better
I been sitting here patient
This sh*t is f***in’ my head up
You was supposed to hold me down
til you got the American dream
You grew up with the love
and influence that I never received

The verbal abuse sets in shortly thereafter, but as the toxicity of this person leaks out in barrels – “I say some crazy sh*t and we give it a couple days … I violate you again, the toxic cycle remains” – the catharsis of the guitars find harmony with minimalistic bass and percussion in a simple loop that offers nothing short of sweet release.

One of Kota’s specialties is doing more with less, and “Alabama Hills” is a quintessential example of just that – the beat consists of maybe four elements, yet its cohesion completely alleviates the gravity of a sour situation. Having spoken about the song being inspired by getting away from these beatdowns, the song is a hatchet to cut ties with unnecessary baggage and leave it to wither away.

Kota the Friend © Frank Rivera
Kota the Friend © Frank Rivera

I was with you from the jump
When everybody thought you was a bum
I was with you when nobody gave a f**k
And I know did some foul shi*t
I was just reacting
I don’t really do apologies
You know me, why you acting like you don’t
I was in the moment you know how it go
Now you talking some boundaries, you making jokes
I did it but you to blame
This always how we operate
You knew the game
I say some crazy sh*t and we give it a couple days
We talking like nothin’ changed
I violate you again, the toxic cycle remains

The accompanying music video is in trademark format: One captioned frame zooming in on Kota as he eyes the camera down, talking through it as if those who grabbed him by the ankles are watching. The rapper is not slowing down for anybody. Not now, not ever.

Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5 was released on January 25 via FLTBYS Music and Entertainment LLC & Venice Music and is available across all streaming platforms.

Get over yourself
You think that you better than me
You treat me like I’m dead to you,
b**ch you indebted to me

You know what, f* you
Sh*t is whatever to me
Just send a couple g’s via Chase
by the end of the week

Please and thank you

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:: stream/purchase Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5 here ::
:: connect with Kota the Friend here ::
Stream: “Alabama Hills” – KOTA the Friend

— — — —

Lyrics to GO, Vol. 5 - Kota the Friend

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