KOTA the Friend debuted on the scene with his 2016 mixtape Palm Tree Liquor, earning a small cult following from the success of the project. Turning down three major label deals and electing to remain independent throughout his career, the 28-year-old Brooklyn rapper released his fourth studio album Everything last year with features from Joey Badass and KYLE, and appearances from actress Lupita Nyong’o and Lakeith Stanfield. His collab with Nyong’o on “Lupita’s Interlude” made its way on to President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris’ Inauguration playlist, propelling the rapper’s career to new heights.
The rapper’s team told TMZ that he was completely blindsided when his track was the very first song on the official inauguration playlist. Since then, he’s been reaping the benefits of the shoutout from the West Wing.
Since being included in the playlist with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, and MF DOOM, his collab with the actress has enjoyed a 90% jump in listeners on Spotify and Apple Music, increasing to 2.5 million total.
The track does not feature the rapper’s vocals, but rather is a 1-minute interlude of Lupita reciting a poem. KOTA tells TMZ that her moving words were the true driving force of the song being placed on the playlist, and he “hopes the healing nature of their work can help the country heal.”
Check out the interlude above, and be sure to check out KOTA the Friend’s latest effort Lyrics To Go Vol. 2.