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!