Cousin Stizz Just Wants To Have Fun On ‘One Night Only’
Boston rapper Cousin Stizz’s career trajectory over the past year would be any rap hopeful’s dream come true. After releasing the buzzy 2015 mixtape Suffolk County, the project’s highlight “Shoutout” received a co-sign from Drake on Instagram, which automatically had the Dorchester rep taking label meetings.
Three years prior, Cousin Stizz (who was given his stage name by a close friend, who passed away at 14 years old) met his squad including his manager Tim Larew and close collaborator, Michael Christmas, at a local cypher series titled “12 For 12,” where his ambitions as a rhymer were born. He bases each project on the circumstances of his life. For Suffolk County, Stizz stacks 16s about chasing paper in the streets and trying to stay out of trouble in his native city. The follow-up, 2016′s Monda—which was dedicated to his close friend, Damone Clark, who died from cancer—found Stizz navigating life and the business after a taste of fame and a new deal with RCA Records on the table.
On his latest ‘tape, One Night Only, money is the motivation but from a different location. The TIDAL Rising rap star recently moved from Boston to Los Angeles for a change of scenery and an up-close look at the wealth the West Coast has to offer. He also hit the road as a supporting act for “iSpy” hitmaker Kyle’s Super tour. While Stizz has made his real-life a core part of his rhaymes, he just wanted fans to get jiggy with his latest offering.
TIDAL recently caught up with the transplant Los Angelian via phone to discuss his glow up.
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Why the move to the West Coast?
I didn’t really like winter that much. It wasn’t anything too crazy. I just wanted to make a move, be out and try to do my own thing. I really like the L.A. vibe, the mountains and all that stuff.
How did the L.A. vibes impact the music?
It’s like you see stuff you’ve never seen before in L.A. when you’re from Boston. There aren’t really many similarities besides that we all drive cars, walk or take bikes. It doesn’t look the same over here. I guess that’s what attracted me is that it was so different and it was just refreshing to see something different for once for a little bit. I like the weather. Beach houses are cool. The mountains are fire. I was right by the ocean and that was just by the beach.
What inspired the title and concept for One Night Only?
The title really came from me saying to myself one night like, “Yo, this is make or break time. You gotta make it happen.” So I kinda put that type of pressure on myself. I gotta make something happen. If things don’t go up from here, then I didn’t do what I was supposed to do so I named it One Night Only to put it in the back of my head. I gotta keep making this shit go.
You recruited a bunch of folks for this project including Offset, Buddy, Big Leano and G-Eazy. What made each person the perfect partner for specific songs?
They all blended really well. Big Leano’s my brother. I’ve been working with him forever, not just in music, we’ve just known each other since I was 16. G is my homie. Offset came through and blessed it. And Buddy’s my boy. That was just all love.
Could you describe the frame of mind you were in when you did songs like “Headlock,” “Lambo” and “Pull Up”?
Coincidentally, I was with [Buddy] when I did all three of those. I was just in the studio, drinkin’ and freestyling. I hear a beat and I start mumbling and [coming up with] melodies then next thing you know, I have a hook and then I just write the rest of the song out. That’s pretty much how all of this happened. Me and Buddy laced the “Pull Up” joint one night. We was just in the studio and I finished recording that “Want Me Bad” record with Kyle. That was all in one session.
What side of Cousin Stizz do you feel like One Night Only shows?
I don’t even try to think of being perceived one way or another. I just try to go with how my life is going. Every time I make a ‘tape, I try to rap everything that’s going on at the moment into the music. That’s all and I hope somebody gravitates to it and can dance to it.
On the song “Jealous,” you talk about knowing it’s your time even if people don’t want you to shine. Are you big on meditation? Do you believe in sitting still and reflecting a lot?
I don’t know if it’s that. I’m a huge believer in the power of belief and the law of attraction, and I’m a big believer in working hard. What you put in is what you definitely get out. And if you apply yourself, only good things can happen and only good things can happen until you try … I don’t know if I really meditate but I am a believer in if you workin’, then shit is gonna happen.
After the RCA deal, how do you feel like your work ethic has changed?
I’ve always been a hard worker. I think that’s probably why I was a good kid ’cause it’s like you don’t have to worry about me. I’m always gonna do what I have to do. I had to be self-sufficient anyways, before and after. I definitely think I tried to up my trajectory like work on things that are maybe a little out of the box for me but I don’t think the work ethic that changed. I’ll sit in the house and write for a week straight, I don’t leave. I’ve always been that type. I don’t think the work ethic’s really changed, just the direction of what I wanna work on.
What did you learn from touring with Kyle?
I learned a lot. I learned how to fucking perform. Shout out to Kyle. That’s my bro, man. His show is amazing. It’s really dope. Every night, I learned something new. We pretty much learned from each other. Definitely taking pointers from Kyle ‘cause he’s been touring for years. That was my first national tour. But after the tour, my show is a lot more polished then when I first started.
Pacing is definitely something you gotta have on tour ‘cause you’re going on so many days. You can’t be on 10 every song. You have to make a real show. You have to bring people on a real journey with you.
When do you feel like your rap career really took off?
My rap career really took off probably with the Drake thing. If not the Drake thing then me deciding that I was gonna rap, like f’real take it seriously.
What was it about Drake co-signing “Shoutout” that made you think a little bit differently about the way you’re grinding?
I gotta go hard. If Drake is listening, then other people are listening, for sure.
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