Citing his grandmother’s guidance, the 34-year-old has always been aware of his mental health, and now finds value in therapy to cope with his trauma. “We don't even know how much built up aggression we release by just having these conversations, or how much trauma we heal,” he said.
Billboard spoke with Mozzy about his mental health journey, how collaborating has helped his artistry and the value of therapy.
Tell me what it was like growing up in Oak Park, Sacramento.
I enjoyed it! I enjoyed my childhood, my adolescent years, my adult years. Like any other ghetto, it got its pros and its cons -- but overall, I loved it. I'm thankful for where I'm from. I wouldn't choose no other place to be. I don't think no other place [would] accept me like home will. I'm grateful! It was dope! I had a dope upbringing in my grandmother's household. The people that I grew up with, they day ones, we still got a dope relationship.
That's why I prioritize giving back to that community, because I love it so much. I didn't make it out the community at 17 or 16, like some of these young bouls nowadays. It took me ‘til I was like 20-something. So I'm deeply rooted in that community, and I know nothing else.
What's your fondest memory from living there?
I remember everybody meeting up at the community center. Going to house parties and just experiencing the trenches. Just seeing things. But I think my fondest memories -- it's just like, the little stuff. Going in the Goodwill with my grandmother, in there vibing. I used to vibe in the book section in there. And just family -- it's just home. Everything. It's too many memories and too many fond memories!
When did you sign with Empire?
We always had a partnership. I started off with distribution, and then we locked in on a 50/50 partnership and that was 2015, after I released "Bladadah," I think. They tapped in with me, I tapped in with them, we set up a meeting and locked in, and it was life-changing events. Because prior to Empire, I was running everything through CD Baby -- and I still got brazy catalog on CD Baby as we speak, I still get a check. But Empire, once I started going through they distribution, it was just dope from there, it was platinum. And I fell in love with they system, I fell in love with they people. And you know, I feel like we biologically related.
You've recorded a lot of collab albums over the years. Have you ever felt like collaborating so much would take away from you establishing your own artistry?
Never. Because anytime I collaborate, I'm never overlooked in the collaboration. And if I am, I appreciate that -- because maybe I can tap into a new fanbase. Maybe it's new listeners, people who was close-minded about Mozzy, and now I'm collaborating with one of their favorite artists. Now they like, "OK, let me give him a try." So I always look at the benefits of collaborating.
Do you ever listen to your older music -- and if so, what shifts can you hear and see from when you were younger and making music to now?
Oooh, growth. So much growth and development, it's crazy. Growth in every aspect -- growth in the content. Growth, and just making sure that the bars is nutritious, and it got something in there that you could take away from. Growth in just the artistry, you know, the way I tweak the wordplay, the way I slither or the way I be slanging 'em and throwing 'em, it's different.
But I also be hearing tracks where it be like, "D--n, my mind was fresh. Look how equipped I was, or look how advanced I was." Like, that's crazy. And look how [I been] accepted -- because sometimes, I feel like I've been doing this for a long time, so I might be slacking on my macking, I might be pump-faking on certain tracks where I don't do exceptionally well. Whereas when I was a young life, everything I did was exceptionally well, because it was so fun and I was passionate about it. And now it's like, [I] got the business side of things, not everything is enjoyable. You got the business side, you got the politics, feeling like your career ain't moving, etc.
Tell me about your relationship with YG.
Fella! My dawg! You already know, 400 Mozzy. He just one of them individuals that I naturally clicked with on everything. It's self-explanatory: He a blood from Southern Cali, I'm a blood from Northern Cali. And you know, we on that gang-related s--t naturally.
Untreated Trauma seems like a very intentional album name, and I know you also have a web series of the same name that's dedicated to mental health. What acts of self-care do you do now to protect your energy and peace?
Good question. I stiff-arm people to protect my energy and peace. I don't answer my phone. I stay away from certain individuals if I feel like they energy is off or they excessive. I meditate, as far as I jump on the freeway and smoke weed. Just vibe out for multiple hours, whether I'm driving to Sacramento or driving to Vegas.
I interact with loved ones. A lot of my untreated trauma comes from death. Death of my people that I grew up with, my day ones. I lost grams. So what I do to cope with it is I write a lot of music. Just writing the music, reciting the music and doubling back to listen to it. That in itself is very therapeutic. But I also function with family members heavy. If it's my family, we vibe out, talk about grams. If it's one of my thugs, I [pull up] on they family members, pick up they young life. It's soothing, soothing for the soul.
When did you start paying attention to your own mental health?
I was always self-aware. I have seen people commit suicide. I've seen people not care about life. I grew up in an environment where it's a lot of that -- d--n near 80% of that, where people just don't care about life. And I always cared about it, I always wanted to make sure that I secure my future. And I knew you gotta take care of yourself. And my grandmother, she was already aware of mental health. She was very on top of it, and we got people that's in our family who's mentally off. So just seeing that in the fam -- within your household alone -- is like, "OK, I gotta make sure I keep my whole functions legit. I got to make sure all tools oiled down."
How has therapy been an eye-opening experience for you? I assume you're learning a lot about yourself during your sessions.
It's dope [because] it's my truth. I get to put it out there, and once I [do], it's like "D--n, this s--t kinda do work." I like therapists -- they ask the right questions. They get you to say things... even people such as yourself, people who do interviews, seem to ask the right questions. And we don't even know how much built-up aggression we release by just having these conversations, or how much trauma we heal.
But I think you got to find [a therapist] who's trustworthy, and you gotta find people who you can actually vibe [for it] to actually work. It ain't just going in the room and talking to anybody. I feel like [therapy] got a lot of benefits that I can't even pinpoint.
I commend you for being so outspoken about therapy and mental health now. I feel like a lot of people in my generation are learning more about childhood traumas and topics like that, so being younger and listening to artists like you... I guess you can be seen as someone who is making therapy "cool" you know?
Oooh, that's dope! I appreciate you. On the flip side, I think right now where the world is at, drugs is cool for therapy. And this is before music, because a lot of people are passing off of suicide, overdoses, trying to cure they depression. And that's the cool way for the youth. And I know, because I was once upon a time a young man who wanted to pour up that syrup to fix my pain, or I wanted to pop some Oxycotin to heal whatever I'm going through, and try to block out whatever my hurt is at that time. I feel like that s--t is self-inflicted, and it causes a lot of casualties.
How is learning about all of this changed your perspective on parenting when it comes to discipline and teaching your children how to process their emotions?
I'm whopping that a--. Sike, nah. [Laughs.] I think it's great, because whatever I experienced with my parents, that situation alone is untreated trauma, and it just motivated me to just be that much better with my children, to my children. That's my real motivating factor. I don't think it actually comes from the therapy session, I think it comes from the actual untreated trauma. And it's something in me that's like, "I can't fail mine."
I felt failure before, I felt what it felt like to be failed, and I give [my daughters] that same feeling. I don't want it to bite me in the a--. I don't want them to paint they picture and they perspective of me is a dud. I refuse to accept that.
The album is out. Are you going on tour?
Most definitely! I don't know the days yet, we finna mock it up right now. But the album [is] out, Untreated Trauma, mandatory snatch. It's going crazy!