Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Spotlight: CTRL

Scotland might not be the first musical hotspot that comes to mind when you want to go crate digging for new hip-hop beats, however, Edinburgh rapper CTRL is just one of the emerging artists proving exactly why you should be heading north for your next hip-hop fix. 

Chris Thomas, better known at CTRL, debuted his first bars in 2021 with the ‘Luv’ EP, swiftly followed by emotive single ‘R.S,’ creating such a wave in the scene that CTRL and team found themselves broadcasting their musical mission on national television in an exclusive STV interview. 

Now that CTRL has unveiled new single ‘See It Now,’ and independent imprint New Vision Records, we caught up to hear all about the new release, and get the full scope on what’s yet to come. 

You last featured in LOOP Summer’21, what have you been up to over the last year?

Thank you LOOP for featuring me again! It means the world. To be honest, a lot of learning about who I am as an artist and the message I want to get across to the listeners. The past year I’ve also been collaborating with some amazing artists within the U.K. & U.S,  New Vision Records have a lot of unreleased CTRL material coming. 

For those who aren’t familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

Honest. Smooth. Immersive. I’m always telling a story in my music and I love creating raps that just flow over the track while keeping the ‘I’m gonna kill this beat with my bars’ ethos. I’m heavily influenced and inspired by Jay-Z’s writing and performing ability. In my opinion Jay-Z is the worlds best hip-hop artist, so far”… 

‘See It Now’ is your new single featuring Jock Begg which dropped on 14th July. Tell us what the track means to you. 

‘See It Now’ is my summer jam! Firstly, big up’s to Leftmind for producing the track, Jock Begg for featuring, Lewis Holms for the visuals & Paddy Do Rego for Executive Producing! Just having us all involved means a lot. The track is really an honest reflection and flex on me as an artist. The comparison between the two worlds of pain and pleasure are well intertwined into this track. 

Much like your debut release ‘Luv’ the subject matter of this release is very personal. Is this something you aim to do? And does it ever feel daunting sharing your songs with the world?

Yes and Yes. I can only speak from the heart, in my own CTRL way. CTRL is the way I see myself. It is daunting, but also a feeling of calm when you finish a verse that had sucked you into a lyrical blackhole and coughed you up the other side. Emotion hangover some call it! 

How did you come to collaborate with Jock Begg who performs vocals on ‘See It Now?’

A bit of a long story”… do you have time? I met Jock Begg through (producer) Jordan Baker, and I met Jordan Baker through (singer/songwriter) Joey Locke. A big happy music family. At a random music session I asked Jock if he could write and perform the chorus and before he could say yes it was done. It was meant to be. 

What was the creative writing process like for this single? We hear you’ve got a solid team of creators behind you, tell us more about who is involved and their different roles. 

It’s really a reflection of where I’m currently at from where I once was in life. The new CTRL is here kinda moment. We absolutely do, within the New Vision Records team. The main orchestrator Paddy Do Rego manages our projects, our engineer Leftmind mixes and masters and our film director Lewis Holms creates all visuals along with myself that make up the core team. But really the 4 J’s have to be included. Jock, Jack, Jordan and Joey. 

Your EP ‘Life and Times’ dropped on July 25th, what can we expect from this body of work?

Let me break it down. 

A short but full story of CTRL from track 1 to track 5, a 14 minute introduction to the new CTRL. A more mature version of me. 

Track 1 is the intro, my message to the world, hence the title ‘Hello World’. 

Track 2 is the lead single from the EP ‘See It Now’.

Track 3 ‘Hard to Love’ is my personal favourite which talks again about my harder situations at times and also my Grandad coming to Scotland from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Racism is mentioned so it’s a sensitive topic to me. 

Track 4 takes me on a car flying around the universe, it’s a thumping tune while I rap about money not being everything in life.  

Track 5 is our late night cruise song. Co-produced by Paddy Do Rego & Jason Tucker (Tucker is lead guitarist). Written and performed by CTRL and  BAKET an American rapper who also raps on the track in French. 

We’re seeing more hip-hop artists emerging from Scotland, can you give us your scope on the scene right now? And share any artists we should be checking out.

I agree and feel it too. UK rap is growing, with Scottish artists included. It’s healthy, more focus is going into Scottish rap from other areas. Check out Jock Begg, Jack Storm, Chef, Bakersville, Joey Locke, Paddy Do Rego and C4SUAL. 

Where do you hope to see the CTRL name in five years?

Headlining something cool in another country. 

What are your plans for the rest of 2022?

Wow! Lots of releases. My EP ‘Life and Times’ is finally out, I’m featuring on C4SUAL’s latest single which drops in August, then a very special album I’m on is coming in September. Some other collaborations are in the works as well, which I’m very excited about. PEOPLE WATCH OUT CTRL IS COMING TO A VENUE NEAR YOU! 

‘See It Now’ featuring Jock Begg is available on all major streaming platforms, listen via Spotify here. Taken from ‘Life and Times’ EP, out now. 

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Words by Jo Dargie

Posted On 3 October, 2022