Existing in the middle of a Brooklyn’s drill movement, Kota the Friend brings a different sound to his neighborhood. Reminiscent of Chance the Rapper in his Acid Rap days, Kota’s wordplay stays on Scrabble, as his lyrics frequently rip attention away from the beat. His 2019 release, Foto, takes listeners through vivid timestamps of his life, including interludes from his family members that will make you appreciate the memories you’ve shared with your own. With his conversational cadence, songs like “For Colored Boys,” “Hollywood,” and “Sedona” come to life in 3-minute stories that you can flip through like an actual photo book. He’s found comfort in his lane, and despite the exploding scene around him, he isn’t worried about conforming to the rest of his rap class. “No longer offended by anyone saying all my music sound the same,” he recently said on Twitter. “At least it doesn't sound the same as all the rest of the shit out there. It’s me bitch, that's why it sound the same. It’s really me.” —Kemet High