KOTA the Friend

Rap / Hip-Hop

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It’s no secret that major labels are on a signing spree, looking to keep up with the proliferation of rappers breaking on DSPs. But as his contemporaries clamor for their big deals, Kota the Friend is taking the road less traveled.

At 26, the rapper says that he’s turned down three -- yes, three -- major label deals. Instead, he’s equipped himself with a fiercely DIY ethos and a small, nimble crew. The Brooklyn native likes to get his hands dirty, being involved in everything from designing fliers to fielding fan requests for concert tickets. “I do every part of my career. I know what works,” he tells Billboard, pushing sprouts off his avocado toast. “It doesn’t make sense to sign to a label when I have people around me. We are the label.”

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