Friend of Midtown

Kota the Friend (left) and Drew Tyrell. Photo by Leon Laing

By opening his first brick and mortar store in Harrisburg next week, rapper Kota the Friend is the third-famous Brooklynite to have ties to Harrisburg. Old Dirty Bastard and Michael K. Williams also have links to the city.

Kota will hold Fltbys Weekend in Harrisburg. Fltbys (pronounced Flight Boys), located at 263 Reily St. in Midtown, is a hip-hop and skate clothing line created by Kota in 2008. The rapper said he was inspired by Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club clothing brand.

“I love how original he was,” Kota said about Williams.

Fltbys’ soft opening will take place at 1 p.m. on Nov. 11.  He and opening acts will perform on Nov. 12 at HMAC at 7 p.m. And on Nov. 13 at 11 a.m., Kota will hold a grand opening for Fltbys.

 Kota’s hometown of Brooklyn is a hip-hop mecca, so I asked why he chose to open a store in Harrisburg, a smaller hip-hop market.

“This place has so much potential,” he said about Harrisburg being an untapped market. “We don’t go to what’s already poppin’.”

Josh Barker, who is friends with Kota and his father Vernon Jones, moved from Brooklyn to Harrisburg in 2016.

“I was able to buy a property for $50,000,” Barker said proudly, referring to his home in Uptown Harrisburg.

Both Barker and Kota agree that the real estate in Harrisburg is cheaper than Brooklyn.

“Vernon comes out here, and he’s amazed,” Barker continued about Harrisburg. “He loves it.”

Flight Night
Flight Night, an event showcasing underground artists, is also part of the Fltbys experience. Drew Tyrell (my cousin from Harrisburg), Brianna Castro, Tendays, J Radiant and Derrick Juwan will open for Flight Night on Nov. 12.

“It feels right, to be honest,” Tyrell said about opening for the Brooklyn-based rapper. “I’ve been working hard on developing my craft, and performing is when I usually get to see things pay off.”

Harrisburg isn’t the only Pennsylvania city that Kota is familiar with. After hearing a female from Philadelphia use the word “jawn” often, he penned a song called “Philly Jawn.” The Philly-based term can refer to a person, place or thing.

This year, Kota dropped two albums (To Kill a Sunrise and Lyrics to Go, Vol. 2) and a number of singles. Hip-hop go-to producer Statik Selektah produced To Kill a Sunrise. Kota has known Statik Selektah for four years.

Like Fltbys, Kota’s music and videos are minimalistic and authentic.

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