“It started with the July 4th cookout party. All we did was hang a banner,” says Curran Lewis. More commonly known as Looh, the 24 year old is co-founder of the Philadelphia-based social movement CMTA (Creative Minds Think Alike). What exactly is a social movement? It is hard to say, just as it is hard to define CMTA. But one thing is for sure; CMTA is making its voice heard on multiple platforms in the city and tri-state area. From an emerging clothing line to mixtape release parties (“celebrations,” as Looh likes to call them), CMTA, focused on unity through the creative process, is rooted in hip-hop. “If you don’t know anybody, you have to build your own platform for everybody to see it,” says Looh, and CMTA has built its platform from a mere banner to a powerful movement changing the landscape of the sights and sounds of Philadelphia.
Although Looh is set to graduate from Temple University this spring, CMTA was dreamt up a few miles down I-95 at Delaware State University. In 2009, Looh, from Mt. Airy, partnered with a classmate from West Philly who simply goes by “B.” “We came up with the name, idea and clothing line and went from there,” says Looh. Inevitably described as a street wear brand, CMTA blends a modern, urban sensibility with traditional elements. Looh explained that, although the brand is primarily aimed at young, African American males, CMTA is for everyone. “Our appearance is hip-hop because that’s what we know. It’s our childhood and upbringing,” says the co-founder, but that does not stop CMTA from collaborating with artists and creators from all walks of life. “We just want to make dreams come true.”
Creative Minds Think Alike has been doing just that in Philadelphia for the past few years. The “celebrations” Looh speaks about are coordinated to promote the brand’s clothing line as well as underground recording artists of Philadelphia. Not only is CMTA giving back to the city that built and supported them, but it is retrospectively building the city as well. “We love providing a platform for local artists because without them, we wouldn’t have a platform ourselves,” stresses Looh. The “Turkey and Dirty Sprite” series and “The Gravy Trap” are examples of CMTA’s “celebrations” that highlight Philadelphia emcees. To explain the format, Looh says, “We compile tracks from various artists, arrange them, host a mixtape and have the artists perform the tracks and the events. Then we create a clothing item that capture the aesthetics and essence of the mixtape and promote both at the same time.”
On March 13, 2015, CMTA hosted another “celebration.” This particular one was “Sashi SZN,” an EP release party for Philadelphia artist Lil Feece’s latest project. This format appears to be working for the brand as attendance numbers rise and, most importantly, creativity is flowing abundantly. “Strong connections are made and we straight turn up,” says the co-founder. Not only is this format working in Philadelphia, it has taken CMTA to New York City and, most recently, the District of Columbia. “We just want to create, and creating through hip-hop is all we know.” From beanies and crewnecks to mixtapes and “celebrations,” Creative Minds Think Alike is making its presence in the city felt while remaining true to its ground-up nature rooted in hip-hop. “Ain’t nothing changed,” says Looh.
To learn more about CMTA (Creative Minds Think Alike), follow them on Twitter (@_CMTA), Instagram (@_CMTA), Tumblr (www.cmtanews.tumblr.com) and like them on Facebook