For the city of Boston, winning begets winning. When you have the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics serving as pro sports’ perennial powerhouses, it’s hard not to develop a winning mentality growing up in the 617. That’s the main reason why Cousin Stizz’s demeanor simply oozes confidence.
In 2015, Stizz issued out a warning shot to the rap game with his swagger-filled single “No Bells.” The video exuded a combination of slick bravado, grittiness, and contempt for those willing to question his merits. With the city of Boston tattooed deep under his skin, Stizz made sure to vocalize his city’s woes on his debut project Suffolk County.
In 2016, he sharpened his lyrical blade in efforts to slice his way through hip-hop with Monda. In hopes of notching a trifecta, Stizz partnered up with RCA in 2017 to unveil his debut album, One Night Only. The menacing appeal of Stizz was alluring enough to nab features from G-Eazy (“Neimans Barneys”) and Migos’ Offset (“Headlock”). With the hip-hop monitoring world Stizz’s every step, the “Bonds” MC is surfing through the genre with relative ease thus far in his career.
After teaming up with Gucci Mane and MadeinTYO for Footaction’s “Summer Hustle” commercial, Stizz sat down with Billboard to speak on his involvement, his new project One Night Only, being dubbed a hometown hero and why his work ethic is comparable to that of Kobe Bryant.
How did this collaboration with Footaction come about?
Cousin Stizz: Well, my manager Tim originally told me about the idea. I thought it was a really cool idea to have a campaign about summer jobs. I haven’t had a job in a really long time, so it was really cool to even just think back in that element and bring back those memories. It was hella tight.
What was the first job that you had?
Wow. I was like 13 and it was called Multi Cultural Youth Tours of What’s Now. Crazy right? So I used to have to give tours of the South End to tourists and s–t growing up. So I used to have to write when I was 13 about the history of Boston. Then, we’d go and give tours to tourists and all that stuff.
What were the first pair of sneakers that you bought?
The first pair of kicks that I bought were the all-white [Nike Air Force Ones].
What made you decide to go that route?
I don’t know, bro. There was just something about the all-white Forces, man. Those are classics. Like I saw them growing up all the time. Growing up around the way, all the people that I was looking up to was wearing white Forces, you know what I’m saying? Even my pops was wearing white Forces. So it was kind of like the first thing that you do when you get a little bit of bread, you buy some kicks. So I saved up my little 80 bucks and went and got me some kicks.
Describe the experience you had shooting with Gucci Mane and MadeinTYO for the Footaction Summer Hustle commercial.
Oh man. It’s been super tight. I just met ‘Wop. That was hella dope. That was a life-changing moment for me, low-key. It’s just been great vibes and great energy since I’ve been here shooting with them all day.
How would you describe your style in one word and why?
My style in one word? Well, that’s a toughie. Fire.
Because that’s what it is. Everything that I try to do, I try to make it fire. Even the ‘fit, it gotta be fire. Everything. The raps. The swag. The clothes. Everything gotta be fire.
Is it more of relaxed kind of swagger that you have with your clothes?
Absolutely. Definitely a relaxed vibe. I don’t try to do too much. It’s all about looking comfortable and feeling comfortable. So I definitely am a relaxed guy.
With you repping Boston, is the style very much similar to that of a New York?
Yeah, it’s pretty similar. We’re neighbors. Like, we’re right next door from each other, for real for real. I think a lot of the styles from the East Coast are really similar. It’s when you start venturing down south and out west and -h-t like that, I feel like you can tell that the style is changing up. Even in the midwest like Chicago, that’s a little bit different.
You recently released your One Night Only album. Take us back to the day you released the tape with RCA and the emotions that were running through your mind.
It feel good, man. It felt like a weight off my shoulders, honestly. We put a lot into this project, low-key. It was like a real concentrated vast effort for sure, but we definitely put a lot into this project. So it felt good to finally release it, man. The reactions have been the best part. It’s going up way more than I thought it was gonna go up. So this is beautiful, man.
Looking back on One Night Only, are there any changes that you would make listening to the album now?
Nah. If I would have felt that I had to make a change, I wouldn’t have put it out. I feel great about it, man. I feel like that s–t happened exactly how it was supposed to happen.
How would you describe your evolution as an artist from when you first released your mixtape Suffolk County in 2015 to today with One Night Only?
I think that my life just evolved, really. I only rap about what I’m living. I don’t really try to stray away from what’s going on directly in my life. I feel like after that, things get blurred and fake. So I think the only evolution in the music, is from the evolution of life. Feel me?
It’s just day-to-day and just growing up. That’s the real difference for me — just me growing up. Suffolk County, I was a kid. I’m a grown man now. I’m living different, I’m moving different and I’m thinking different. So the music is just moving like that. It’s moving with me.
Do you think that you were snubbed for the XXL Freshman cover?
Oh nah, bro. I’m not worried about any of that s–t, ever [Laughs.] Honestly bro, I don’t look at comments. I don’t look at numbers. I don’t look at any of that stuff, bro. My only job is music. That’s [the media’s] jobs, to pick those people. That’s them. I’m doing me, bro. If it’s gonna happen, you know, I’m not gonna say no to it. Everything happens on its own and it’s in God’s plan. It wasn’t my time. So I’m not thinking no way about it at all.
You had some great features from One Night Only, including G-Eazy and Offset. Was there one feature that stuck out to you the most on that project?
Big Leano. That’s my brother. He just came up with this whole idea to rap in his room when we were 15-years-old, you feel me? To have a song with him literally almost a decade later is crazy. Like I said, we came up with rapping in his room and it wasn’t like we knew we were gonna rap. It was just like, ‘We got this song. Something gotta change. Something gotta change for the better.’ So for us to be in L.A. to make that song together 10 years later, to me — it was one of my proudest moments.
With you pushing the envelope in Boston in terms of rap, how does it feel to be the hometown hero when you walk back into the city? What are the vibes you get?
Love. It’s weird because I don’t really try to think of it like that, you know what I’m saying? Because you can’t get caught up in titles, man. I try not to get tied up and think like that, because people usually get stagnant when they get that type of mindset, of being the hero of anything. I can’t even… that’s not even in my thoughts. I try not to think of myself as the hometown hero, but it comes with it. I accept it.
But I just want to know that I’m moving right for the people that are under me. I want to make sure that the kid under me has a real shot, even if I don’t get it. That’s what it is for me when I go back home. It’s love. It’s real love. I’m trying to give back because those people are the reasons why I am where I’m at right now.
Something tells me that you and Statik Selektah have something brewing on the music front.
That’s actually crazy. Tim literally just talked to me about Statik the other day. Maybe [Laughs].
If you can give me your NBA comparison, who would you choose and why?
WOW! That’s tough. Who would I compare myself to and why? Kobe. Yeah, Kobe, for real. You know why? I don’t try to gas me or say that I’m better than n—as. I don’t be on none of that type of s–t, but I will work harder than n—-s. I do know that’s something Kobe will do. If I know that there’s something that I need to work on, I’m going to work on it until that s–t is perfected in my head, you feel me? That’s something that comes from my roots. That comes from years back of me always being a hard worker. I will say that.
So I’d definitely say Kobe because I do feel like he outworks n—as. If he can’t beat you in skill, he’s going to outwork you. That’s for sure.
Kobe 8 or Kobe 24?
Whoa! Those are definitely two different people, huh? [Laughs] You know what? I would have said Kobe 8 a couple of years ago, but now that I’m a little older, I’m definitely going to go with Kobe 24, bro. Definitely a little bit seasoned. I’m definitely still a rookie in this rap s–t, but I’m definitely seasoned in this rap s–t. I’ve been around the block a few times. I know what’s going on. So I try to move like an older guy.