Courtesy of the Artist

In an era of trending sounds and singles, Kota the Friend makes albums. His latest, Protea, is a kaleidoscope of clever wordplay, smooth hooks, and beats you can dance to. Dedicated to his wife, the 16 tracks feel like a celebration. It features guest spots from Aloe Blacc, Braxton Cook, and Samm Henshaw.

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Kota The Friend

It feels pretentious for an artist in 2020 to ruminate on the pleasures of learning to fish or the pure joy of sipping beer cans by the lake considering all the trauma that embroils everyday life.

Last week The Washington Post reported that nearly half of Americans are struggling with mental health issues thanks to the COVID-19 Crisis. An emergency hotline run by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported a 1,000 percent increase in April compared to the same time in 2019, and the online therapy app Talkspace reported a 65 percent increase in clients since mid-February. It feels tacky to be optimistic these days. Still, on Kota the Friend's sophomore triumph, Everything, he modestly implies that the simple pleasures were always more important than we gave them credit for.

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Music impacts us differently these days.

The albums we usually listened to on our daily commutes suddenly bring us pangs of bitter nostalgia now that there's nowhere to go. Bright optimistic tunes suddenly sound hollow, and we can't help but feel especially resentful towards songs that make us wanna dance and party.

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