Hip-hop is currently awash in luxury dad rap. In the last decade rap has seen an emergence men with unresolved daddy issues dealing with the mundane and costly realities of becoming fathers themselves. Jay-Z faced the thought of losing his family in the wake of infidelity on 4:44. Kanye West’s Ye clumsily dealt with his growing anxiety around raising daughters. Drake was backed into a corner by Pusha T on Scorpion, and made the distinction he wasn’t hiding his kid from the world, but the world from his kid. These moments, though often visceral and heartfelt, are told through the vantage point of celebrity and wealth.
Kota The Friend‘s “Solar Return,” featuring Saba, is a refreshingly new take. Melancholic, grateful and tender, the independent Brooklyn rapper — who’s quickly gaining a robust audience — spins a ground level story that darts between generations. Kota’s mom is “praying for his liver,” while his son is dealing with sharing his dad “with the world.” The song teeters on the edge of intense sincerity and too-sweet sentimentality, but it’s countered by a subtle beat and the perspective of a musician experiencing a new level of success for the first time. Mournful keys and soft horns provide a nostalgic backdrop for Kota to assure his son he’ll return home. It’s a simple concept, and it coalesces during the song’s climax. As the beat switches to a more forceful piano melody, Kota momentarily comes to terms with himself, his demons and career: “My son don’t even like me going to the store/He be thinking it’s another tour,” he raps at the end of his second verse. Before sadness can creep in, Kota promises “I’ma see you when I’m back home.”