Mozzy Talks Sacramento, Spirituality & Success
Mozzy (real name Timothy Patterson) is no overnight success. The 30-year-old rhyme slinger didn’t start taking his pursuit of rap glory seriously ’til he was 25 or 26 years old and spent his formative years hustling in the streets, including a prison stint.
While some could consider jail time a setback, the man who would eventually be known in hip-hop as Mozzy was setting up his wins as an emcee. Fast-forward a few years, and not only did the high school dropout earn the stamp of approval from West Coast greats like Kendrick Lamar, but his music was also featured in the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther (as well as the TDE-produced soundtrack). He also runs his own label, Mozzy Records
Below, the TIDAL Rising Artist of the Week reflects on his wins and losses while plotting his next money moves.
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What was your earliest memory of hip-hop?
[Raps opening lines of Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang"] One, two, three to the four, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the door… When I heard that, I just fell in love with it. I was watching it on a station. That was Dre and Snoop, but I remember watching that video, and I was just so inspired. I probably think I was like five [at the time], so I was trying to get my gangsta together. I wanted to actually be [Snoop] — like, that was my new superhero.
What was it about growing up in Oak Park that made you the man you are today?
I’d say just the beautiful struggles. It helps shape characteristics, makes you humble. I wanted to be a rapper since I was a kid, so I wanted to compete with Bow Wow and the Romeos. I think just being where I’m from prevented me from getting on at an early age, so I really had to endure a lot before I actually got noticed and people really paid attention to me.
I ain’t get on until I was like 25, 26 years old. I’ve been rapping passionately the whole time from 14 [years old and] up. But just coming from Oak Park, it’s like the have-nots — we ain’t supposed to make it. We don’t have record labels in Sacramento. Oak Park is the most notorious gang-related neighborhood in Sacramento, so I always had that honor, that pride, that push. I always felt like I was the chosen one, and I was a part of something dope. We didn’t have the Internet so I didn’t get to see outside of Sacramento.
Do you remember the first time you realized that you had talent?
I went to a talent show at my junior high school, Kit Carson. I did an original song at talent show there and uh, you know, after I performed, I earned second place. Some girls, who were friends of mine, earned first place. They was dancing to Destiny’s Child or [TLC's] “No Scrubs,” but they earned first place only because one of them messed up, and she started crying on the stage, so everybody felt bad for ‘em. I was just nervous. I was sweating through my puff coat and just winning second place alone was dope for me. But when they said I was taking second place, the crowd went crazy like nah, he was first. I just knew like, OK, I am the dopest to do this for real.
You consistently put out multiple projects a year. How are you able to constantly write music and keep the creative juices flowing?
Just the passion behind it all. I’ve been hungry for this for a lifetime. So now that it’s present, I’m finna bite down. It’s chow time. If I’m coming from starvation and then you finally get a full course meal in front of you, [it's like] I’ve been trained to do this. This is my life. This is something that I would do free of charge. It’s not only my dream, it’s a dream of my community. I got people doing life in the penitentiary. I got people that died at an early age. We shared the same dream. They ain’t present so they living through me. It’s all I know. It wasn’t optional. I didn’t have no plan B. I’m saying I have no backup plan for a backup plan. This was all or nothing. If I failed at doing this, I was a failure in life, period. I felt like that at times. I feel like I’m worthy of this, and I deserve it.
With the release of your Spiritual Conversations EP, how much does spirituality impact the way that you make music?
I live in a world where I say the good die young, so you know, I experienced death a lot. I experience people going to jail a lot. I’m just fortunate that I wiggled through the cracks. I was able to maneuver through the crevices. I talked to God more than often. I don’t go to church or really read the Bible, but I have conversations with God all the time. When you’re in this type of life, you tend to pray consistently. Even if you’re just talking to your partners who are deceased, talking to the clouds, that’s a spiritual conversation. So it’s deeply embedded. I come from a household where it wasn’t really about going to church, it was just about having a relationship with a higher power. I’m a child of God. I think it’s mandated that I put it in my music because my music is heartfelt. This is based on truth and reality. I’m just giving it raw and uncut.
When did you feel like you were starting to be successful as a rapper?
It was a Hispanic dude from Sacramento, I forget his name, but he gave me $250 to feature on this song. From that day on, I just got to doing the mathematics. This was in 2014. Like if he gave me $250 and I do 10 of them, I get $2500. I do 100 of them, that’s $25,000, like I could really get rich off doing this. How I look at life is I could build a cake off crumbs, put these kibbles together and build something. That was big to me because before I was dependent on selling drugs or I was dependent on getting at a prostitute or whatever it was. I was dependent on some something or somebody. But as far as like feeling really solidified, it’s when you run into the Kendrick Lamars or when you start discussing deals and they talking about getting you a M or got this $500,000 play for you, when you run into a life-changing event. So it’s just all been coming together. It’s something new every day, and I’m amazed. I never really expected all this.
You have been grinding independently but also have your own label, Mozzy Records. Talk to me about like the talent that you have on there and how being a label boss differs from being a rapper.
I got a lot. I got E Mozzy, Celly Ru. Dave-O is a part of the label. He creates the beats. I got ShooterGang, a lot of young life but it gives me an opportunity to do something for the youth in my community, especially the delinquents, the people who going through all the fuckery that come with the streets, whether it’s legal charges or experiencing deaths of their brothers. It provides not only an outlet but it provides an income. I wish I could just give [my artists] the money but the label gives them an opportunity to work for it. My life has changed so now my whole objective is to change their life.
Where did the name Mozzy come from?
Mozzarella Fellas. People in my corner was saying the name was too long, so we just chopped it down to Mozzy — Money over very vain youngin’. We just kind of push like how the whole A$AP [Mob] did it. Just aligned everybody with the name, whether it’s a Mozzy E, Hus Mozzy. I could’ve pushed what I had going on as far as [calling] myself like little Tim, but I just wanted to do something that was going to generate notoriety for the whole gang.
At what point did you push your life in the streets to side and really focus on going hard with the music? Was it around “Bladadah”?
Probably a little before “Bladadah.” I did “Bladadah” when I was fresh out of jail in 2015, so I ain’t really do that until I started calling home, and they was like, “iTunes going crazy [with your music]. You got $3,000, $5,000 in your account.” When I got out, Black Market [Records] gave me $10,000 to do a project with ‘em and then from there on, I locked in with Empire. $5,000 checks every month. I’m like, this is serious because I could see it adding up. I was never juggling $50,000. Now I have to really like kind of fall back and plot on this. I was ready to sign my life away for that so that was like a dream coming from the trenches, coming from being broke. From there, it was just straight music. When they started putting that paper in my pocket, I know it was real.
How did it feel to be on the Black Panther soundtrack?
Shout out TDE, Top Dawg, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, the whole squad over there. It’s the biggest thing thus far. I only say that because it touched people that my music never touched. You got old ladies coming up to my grandmother telling them how their grandchild heard my music in a movie theater. I got a little cousin, and they’re fans of the music but they went to see Black Panther, not even to support me, they don’t even know I’m in there. It’s just the reaction of it all, man. I’m still trying to register it all and it’s unreal.
You decided to quit lean and post this video about the Kick The Cup campaign and quitting lean. Why was that important for you to get out to the world?
I was fighting with the monkey that was on my back, choking me out. It was visible. It was evident. People see me utilizing the brick multiple times. Not just utilizing it but abusing it. I’m falling asleep in my interviews, and I was literally sleepwalking. It’s embarrassing to see yourself like that. I know I ain’t the only one that’s dealing with this problem, but really, I was doing it for the reassurance. I was doing it for myself. I was letting myself know that we through with this. I didn’t know [the video] was gonna pop off the way it did. I was just doing it not only myself but the people in my circle, the people that functioned with me. They needed verification that I was really through with this, and what better way than to pull out a brick and liquid worth more than a thousand dollars — a very addictive liquid. I nearly cringed when I was pouring it out. I felt like it was mandated for the people who do this for fashion because a lot of people just sip for fashion whereas you got other people who really deal with everyday life struggles, and it’s what soothes them. It really had a hold on me. I want to see what tomorrow look like.
Break down what the title of your next album, Gangland Landlord, means.
Gangland landlord, head honcho, boss man. Just a top rank. That’s my classification. I never heard of impeachment so it’s just being presidential. I really carry the city of Sacramento on my back. I would say northern Cali too but as far as Sacramento is concerned, my city was overlooked until I gave us action, so I’m the gangland landlord. Anybody that feel any different is hating. I’m a very humble soul, and I don’t mean to step on nobody’s toes, but right now the city of Sacramento, that’s me. I’m doing what nobody else has done for our city ’cause this gangsta shit still exist.
It seems like you’ve been lining up all these wins the past couple of months. Do you ever still feel slept on?
I’m so appreciative of everything that has been transpiring, and I feel like I’d be disrespectful to say I’m slept on. I don’t feel like I’m slept on. I just feel like I got further to go. I got a lot more to accomplish.
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