It’s not every day that Harrisburg is compared to Brooklyn, N.Y.
But when Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist KOTA The Friend came to check out the city, that’s exactly what he thought.
Last month, fltbys (Flight Boys) Music and Entertainment, KOTA’s streetwear brand, announced that it would be opening a store in Midtown. KOTA purchased the building that formerly housed the restaurant Right on Reily, as well as several other restaurants before that.
Drawn to the city’s potential for growth and current skateboarding, music and arts scene, KOTA said, “It’s low-key and chill, but it could be great. It has the vibe I’m looking for.”
KOTA (pictured) envisions fltbys as a local hangout place for artists, musicians and skaters. The shop will sell his merchandise, including T-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories, along with skateboards. There will also be a recording studio for KOTA to collaborate with other artists.
“fltbys is just a creative hub, it always has been,” he said. The shop, he added, gives young artists a place to “really connect with each other.”
The hip-hop artist launched his brand, looking to promote his music, when he was only a sophomore in high school. At the time, he was just printing shirts and giving them out for free.
After years of playing gigs around the city, KOTA released his first album, “Anything,” in 2018. In 2019, his second album, “FOTO,” reached over 100 million streams and 5 million listeners globally. His most recent album, “Lyrics to Go Vol. 1,” came out Jan. 20. Through his recent tour, he has grown a following in New York, as well as internationally.
So why Harrisburg?
According to KOTA, New York already has a lot, but Harrisburg is lacking a streetwear culture.
While there’s no set date yet for the opening of fltbys, KOTA predicts it will be mid- to late April. He plans to appear for the opening, as well.
“I’m down to make new things happen in new places,” he said. “I’m not here for the money. Wherever we are, we are going to be a part of the culture.”