CTL takes control of Winnipeg [Article]
Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg’s rising independent hip-hop label, CTL, was established in 2005 on the foundation of childhood friendship and family loyalty in one of the roughest inner-city Winnipeg areas. The CTL boys – MCs Quick Cash, The Exotic Boiz (Tweety and Dizzy Dot), Lotto and Young Kidd, as well as producers LJ and Boogey – have come together through economic hardship to form their own brand of hip-hop. “CTL is a family—a brotherhood,” said Young Kidd.
Underlying fluxes of street life and hardships are pretty evident in CTL’s work. “The streets played a huge part in who I am,” said Young Kidd. “That’s where I learned a majority of my ethics and values.” Young Kidd was raised by a single mother and struggled to cope with the lack of a father figure in his life. “I’m sure it affected my mother — having to take care of these bills, these kids, [and] these necessities all by herself,” he said. “At times I witnessed, first hand, my mother crying. Shit was hard.”
Fellow label mate, Lotto, was graciously accepted into the CTL family following a stint in jail. “In jail you’re looking for better and greater alternatives,” he said. “Seeing Kidd doing his thing— that was something I could invest time and energy into.” But Lotto had to put in hard work in order to develop his flow and lyrical prowess. “Some people are born with talent. Others work their ass off to acquire it,” he said. “I actually studied various flows, read countless books, even dictionaries, and finally came out with my own flow.” But a listen to Lotto’s lyricism might suggest he’s been utilizing wordplay since birth.
While CTL’s sound can be accredited to the CTL rapper roster, producer LJ helps the boys keep their sound fresh. “I was introduced to the art of sound at the age of five—my mother got me a keyboard that had a few sounds and drum patterns,” said LJ. “I played with that so much that it had to be taken away for certain periods of time because I was on it so much.” Watching LJ on the production is like watching a painter on the canvas. He knows where his tools are, and he knows what he wants to utilize in order to create his masterpiece. But he never knows where his artwork will take him. “I just go with the vibe. I just go with how I feel at the time,” he said. LJ has worked his way up to using equipment such as the Motif X6, Logic, and Avalon. “I’ve progressed so much that I don’t even want to hear my old beats,” he said.
In spring 2013, CTL was given the opportunity to tour alongside Wacka Flocka Flame during The DRUGS (Do Right U Gain Success) Canadian Tour. “The first show was in Toronto and a lot of people say Toronto is the hardest city to capture,” said Kidd. Lotta admits that he was nervous because he saw performers getting booed. But the crew got it together and “set the tone and precedence for the whole tour.” “Not a lot of artists can say they turnt up Toronto, but for us it was a goal accomplished and a dream come true,” said Kidd.
More recently, CTL has been coping with a huge loss. Young Kidd has been given a three-year prison sentence for firing a gun off in public. Despite his motion of a guilty plea entered during the May 2013 proceedings, Young Kidd said he was targeted and treated unfairly. “They [have] been after me since I was 16 years old, and for what?” said Kidd. “They attempted to intimidate me, but I’m still standing. There was evidence that should have got me off. Evidence that should have brought about a reasonable doubt in the eyes of the prosecutor.” CTL will not be the same for the duration Young Kidd is on—as he would call it—vacation. But the CTL family is pushing forward. “I [have] never been placed in a situation like this business-wise,” said Lotto. “It’s like losing a franchise player. We take care of ours and we’ll obviously make sure he’s still put on.” CTL has several works by Kidd that they plan on releasing during his absence.
CTL is also gearing up to release several upcoming projects. Lotto plans to drop his Transition mixtape later on this summer. The mixtape is produced by – of course— LJ and Boogey as well as Track Officials, and Trizzlam. “When people listen to this project they will ‘transition’ from one emotion to the next. It’s about not being stuck in one modality but being diverse and adaptable,” he said, adding that he is currently in talks with Krayzie Bone and Maino.
The Exotic Boiz are also banging out two projects this fall: Deeply Rooted followed by Tweety’s solo mixtape, A 1 Since Day 1. “This next project Deeply Rooted, in my opinion, will establish us as a duo group. I have a worldwide international vision for this exotic vibe,” said Tweety.
So get ready to start bumping more CTL. And show Young Kidd some love while he’s doing his bid by snail-mailing your support to:
Stony Mountain Institution,
PO Box 9250,
Article and interviews by Jamie Ellis for HipHopCanada
Photography courtesy of CTL