Louis Cza is no textbook hip-hop artist.

Cza has been shaking up the local hip-hop scene in Calgary with his genre-defying music, in collaboration with his group Roman66, his expressionist art and a fashion brand set to launch later this month.

Growing up, Cza, was surrounded by a spectrum of music ranging from Tupac, Biggie and Michael Jackson.

“I like to flirt with that thin line between genius and insanity, I can flirt around with that more than most artists.” — Louis Cza

“Music was a big thing. I was exposed to a lot of music [growing up]. My neighbours bumped to music really loud, a lot hip-hop, that’s also where I got my subconscious exposure from,” said Cza.

For Cza, however, freestyling verses on the spot was what truly helped mold him as an artist.

Even though he admits to being terrible at the start, it was not long before his talent eventually took notice.

“In high school, the seniors would make me go to their classrooms to freestyle for them, everyone would always try to battle me all the time,” said Cza.“Freestyling made Roman66 possible. It made me be able to showcase my skills without needing to draft up anything and still make incredible magic on the spot. That really encouraged me and a lot of people I make music with now to move forward and to actually pursue this.”

Cza’s group, Roman66, is a blend of creators, producers, rappers, videographers, singers, and classically trained jazz players, all working towards a common goal: establishing their name within the music industry. Cza performed at Broken City, June 24, where he exhibited songs from his latest album. Photo courtesy of Hoat Zin

Among the many who sum up Roman66, the group members who collaborated on Cza’s latest album, Medussv 2k17, released June 22, consist of producers DT$P, Lucky Black, DJ DOSR1, rappers Dogma and Silver Coop, Siby Humayun, a saxophonist, and Sarah Cho, a cellist, who also designed the latest album cover.

Zoe Slusar, also known as Zhe, also contributed with a verse on the track: “Summer’s Back” and on the background vocals for “Ego Tripping.”

Medussv 2k17 is an eclectic concoction of sounds that are contrary, but complementary. The album fuses hip-hop with jazz, indie, post-punk, trap, and even dabbles around with house music.

“It’s a complete album, there’s more classical composition in there. It’s a beautiful album, very experimental,” adds Cza.

“I like to flirt with that thin line between genius and insanity. I can flirt around with that more than most artists. Also, I’m very ambidextrous, I can produce, I can produce different styles of music, I can play guitar, I can sing, I can rap. I have all these tools in my hands and I find most artists find a few tools and they run with it, that pushes me for more and more.”

Cza’s album is like an open book — each track tells a different tale and details a different chapter of his life.

“The lyrics mostly channel a lot of where I’m at in life at the time, but I’m also affected by everything I’ve been through growing up. I find nostalgia to be a very big influence in my music,” said Cza. “I put a lot of anger, sarcasm, feelings of being apathetic and feeling loved. I feel like for me it’s like a building or a spaceship and as you go up though every track from one to 14 on the album, you’re going through the hierarchy of being ostracized and being a black sheep.”

Fresh off his Sled Island debut June 23 at The Hifi Club in Calgary, Cza wowed the crowd with a taste of his latest artistic production and continued to dazzle the following day at Broken City.

Impressed by his performance, Sled Island raved on to Instagram: “Remember that time you missed @blackgreekgod66 shutting down the entire club down? Oh wait, it just happened.”

Louis Cza celebrates the success of his album, Medussv 2k17 by crowd-surfing during his Sled Island performance at The Hifi Club, June 23. Photo courtesy of Greg Bennett

In the photo, you can see Cza relishing his success by crowd-surfing during his performance at The Hifi Club.

Others generating buzz on social media were Sarah Jay, the associate editor at HipHop Canada, who posted on Facebook: “Louis Cza Medussv just dropped a grime track in the club?”

“I didn’t even think I was going to do Sled Island this year. For some reason it seemed far away, but I’ve learned to appreciate myself a lot, now that I know my potential,” said Cza

Cza’s expressionist art is also soaring to new heights. His first exhibition was featured at Mount Royal University’s black history month art expo in February and is now manifesting into a clothing line called Orange Guice, set to launch in July.

East meets west

Cza’s clothing line assimilates Western and African fashion into a hybrid.

“It’s like OG, [instead of OJ]. It’s a pop culture brand, it’s artisanal, and it’s a gorilla fashion brand. Our slogan is: ‘Enjoy the experience’ And Enjoy the Experience is actually my next album for next summer, and that’s already done. Might even drop it at Christmas actually,” said Cza.

“That’s how it works: if I see something that really comes through and tickles my mind, it’s going to make colours, images, paintings, and visuals in my head. Also, seeing a painting can actually trigger me hearing sounds in my head, a full beat, or a part of the beat. It’s like, ‘Ooo, I have to record that, I have to put that down,’” said Cza.

Roman66 will be showcasing a webisode on their Youtube channel which hosts a variety of music videos, which are generating thousands of views day-to-day. Their most popular video is “Silver Coop – Choose,” which has managed to reach, 52,193 views.

The webisode will feature: recordings of live performances, a glimpse into their lives and funny skits. No word on when it will be released.

Cza and Coop will also be doing a joint album release party in July and will have an art exhibition at Kawa Expresso Bar, located on 13th Avenue, Aug. 15.

“I’ve accomplished things, I didn’t even know I was going to accomplish. I didn’t even think I was going to do Sled Island this year, for some reason it seemed far away, but I’ve learned to appreciate myself a lot, now that I know my potential,” said Cza. “I also did my first movie with Lisa Lipton, who’s a filmmaker and I was a lead role in it. I didn’t think I was ever going to act this year. She’s doing the release of that with CJSW [radio station], so look for, Soon All Your Memories Will Be With Me.”

For more information on event listings and to stay up to date on the latest news, follow Cza on his Roman66 Page or Louis Cza on Facebook.

cbriceno@cjournal.ca

Editor: Rosemary De Souza | rdesouza@cjournal.ca