INTERVIEW WITH C.O.T.I. @cotimusic (Captains Of The Imagination)

COTI

C.O.T.I. (Cap­tains Of The Ima­gin­a­tion) con­sists of 6 artists form­ing a Hip Hop group based out of Geneva, Switzer­land. They write and per­form in Eng­lish, and their sound is often described as a “golden-era” nineties boom-bap style with funk and soul influ­ences. Their mes­sage is of pos­it­iv­ity and enlight­en­ment, com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent sub­ject mat­ters from storytelling, to cri­tiquing our soci­ety, to our every­day exper­i­ences. 

They are all from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and com­bine their unique per­spect­ives to bring some­thing uni­ver­sal; they also rep­res­ent world Wide con­nects, the inter­na­tion­al Hip Hop move­ment thanks to which they col­lab­or­ate with many artists includ­ing Con­Sensus and Phy­ba Optikz from the UK. C.O.T.I have been very lucky to open for the likes of legendary groups such as Onyx, Bizar­re Ride II The Phar­cy­de, Big Daddy Kane, Das EFX, Dj Revolu­tion, Evid­ence of Dilated Peoples, Terman­o­logy, and more.

We catch up with them to find out more!

What inspired the name Cap­tains of ima­gin­a­tion?

C.O.T.I. was foun­ded by two Emcees: Cap­itán and Ima­gine, so our group’s name is a merge between their two artist names.

How did the group come togeth­er?

Hav­ing a mutu­al admir­a­tion for Guru of Gang­starr, Cap­tián and Ima­gine began writ­ing togeth­er. Soon, they met SeZ’, a loc­al Geneva beat­maker, and they were able to start record­ing their poetry on hard-hit­ting ori­gin­al beats. For a while, Cap­itán was study­ing abroad, so Ima­gine was per­form­ing a lot on his own and was joined by Dj Tiny Tim on the decks.

Being part of the “world Wide con­nects” inter­na­tion­al Hip Hop move­ment, Ima­gine was net­work­ing with fel­low rap­per Dr Koul, and they found they had good chem­istry. When Dr Koul joined the group offi­cially he brought along singer/rapper Evita Koné, with whom he had been in the jazz/Hip Hop band Cauli­flower.

Why do you choose to mc and write in Eng­lish?

 Although C.O.T.I.‘s crew mem­bers all met in Geneva, Switzer­land (where French is the spoken lan­guage), we all hail from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and share Eng­lish as our mother tongue. Com­bined, our nation­al­it­ies include: Swiss, Amer­ic­an, Irish, Eng­lish, Chadi­an, Lebanese, Mex­ic­an, Uruguay­an, French, and Itali­an. We rep­res­ent so many nation­al­it­ies that it makes sense for us to com­mu­nic­ate in Eng­lish, a more “neut­ral” lan­guage between us and across the world.

 Who are your Hip Hop inspirations/ favour­ites?

 As men­tionned earli­er, Guru of Gang­starr is one of the found­ing inspir­a­tions for the group. Over­all we appre­ci­ate clas­sic Hip Hop groups such as Wu-Tang, Out­kast, Dilated Peoples, the Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, The Phar­cy­de and more. Indi­vidu­ally, we all have our own pref­er­ences and per­son­al influ­ences, and that blend is part of what gives us our unique sound.

 What is it about the golden era of hip hop that makes it so spe­cial?

 There was a spe­cial bal­ance between main­stream and under­ground that allowed a lot of really tal­en­ted and power­ful voices to infilt­rate the music industry and flood the air­waves. Today, we have just as many (if not more) tal­en­ted acts out there, and thanks to the inter­net, we can access a lot of them; how­ever, since the 2000s, the main­stream record labels man­aged to fil­ter out a lot of the more rad­ic­al acts. Per­haps a change is on its way now!

What are your plans for the future?

 We plan to keep cre­at­ing and deliv­er­ing time­less Hip Hop for those that still love it. More import­antly, we plan to keep hon­ing our craft, improv­ing ourselves, net­work­ing and col­lab­or­at­ing with like­minded artists, and expand­ing our audi­ences to new hori­zons. For our next pro­ject, we will be releas­ing an EP with UK-based pro­du­cer Inztrow, who we also know through the “world Wide con­nects” move­ment. But that’s only one of our many pro­jects in the pipeline, soon to be announced.

 Where is Hip Hop going next? 

 Hip Hop cul­ture is a liv­ing breath­ing net­work that can be exper­i­enced in every corner of the globe. Some­times we may be temp­ted to box it in and try to pre­serve what we think was best about it at a cer­tain point in time, but per­haps we should trust Hip Hop’s for­mu­la to keep inspir­ing youth to express them­selves cre­at­ively and stand up for what they believe in. Our world def­in­itely still needs Peace, Love, Unity and Hav­ing Fun!

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Web­sitewww.cotimusic.com

Face­bookwww.facebook.com/CaptainsOfTheImagination

Ins­tagram/Twit­ter: @cotimusic

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Valerie Ebuwa

Valer­ie “wing girl” Ebuwa is a freel­ance dance artist and yoga teach­er from East Lon­don. She is cur­rently dan­cing for 3 con­tem­por­ary dance com­pan­ies and is one of the found­ing mem­bers of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.

About Valerie Ebuwa

Valerie "wing girl" Ebuwa is a freelance dance artist and yoga teacher from East London. She is currently dancing for 3 contemporary dance companies and is one of the founding members of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.