At the 60th annual Grammy Awards, Kendrick Lamar won best rap album of the year, and some of the first words out of his mouth weren’t his own, but Sacramento rapper Mozzy’s. He walked on to the grandiose stage, smirked and said, “Like my guy Mozzy say, ‘God up top all the time…’”
Then, a few days later, the name Mozzy could again be found tucked away on the tracklist for Black Panther: The Album, the soundtrack and corresponding movie that’s become a ubiquitous part of the Black History Month conversation with a buzz that’s been a mainstay on the Twitter timeline for months. Mozzy’s name sits next to modern rap icons like Kendrick, Future, and Vince Staples.
So who is Mozzy, and why and how is he seemingly one of Kendrick’s favorite rappers??
Born Timothy Patterson, Mozzy is the 30-year-old rapper who’s probably better known to West Coast hip-hop denizens or rap fans who’ve been paying closer attention. He’s the wildly underrated Sacramento rapper, who has steadily averaged somewhere around six projects a year since 2015. He’s also an incredibly endearing father of two, whose songs are in-depth, transparent narratives of what his life growing up in Sacramento has been like — spanning the emotional spectrum via poignant introspection on subjects like random killings, drug abuse and jail time.
The MC says his lyrical honesty is an attempt to mirror the truth-telling of the legendary Tupac, who Mozzy pays homage to by showing “the realities that actually come with the gang banging… It’s political and it’s nurturing.” It’s all part of a recent metamorphosis that has led him away from lean and into a sobering fatherhood. “Get teary eyed about my daughter when I think about her,” he raps on his version of Future’s “Perkys Calling,” one of the bigger hits off 2016’s Fraternal Twins 2, with a video that has gained around 15 million views on YouTube.
Mozzy’s prolific nature and story-style lyricism is not something that sacrifices his sound, which is a mix of classic West Coast gangsta rap, paired with an occasional southern drawl, and laced with subtle piano keys — a multifaceted style that parallels his layered story.
We spoke to the rapper ahead of his upcoming album Gangland Landlord, due out some time this summer (as well as his on-the-horizon Spiritual Conversations EP), about a potential signing to Kendrick’s Top Dawg Entertainment label, and his assumed front row seat next to Hov at the 2019 Grammys.
Were you watching live or did someone tell you about that Grammy shout out from Kendrick?
I got a million text messages, a million phone calls. I was actually on the road, I think I was in Houston with Trae Tha Truth. I just got so many text messages, so many phone calls, people were sending me videos. It was platinum. I just couldn’t believe it.
How did you feel getting those texts and hearing that he did that?
I mean, he’s like God in our world, as far as entertainment and music is concerned. He emerged from the trenches just like myself. So for him to just mention me was an amazing feeling. Prior to him ever mentioning me, he quoted a bar when I first met, from “I’m A Gangsta,” one of my songs. So that was the feeling like, “Okay. We on the right track cause if Kendrick Lamar familiar with the music, we doing what we supposed to be doing.”
But for him to do it on the Grammys, at that type of platform… I mean, ‘Mozzy’ was one of the first things he said, ‘Shout out to my boy Mozzy.’ And you know, I’m pretty sure he’s a pretty strategic person, so it’s just crazy for him to even mention me.
He specifically shouted out a religious quote, which is something that came up a lot on (the 2017 debut studio album) 1 Up Top Ahk — how does religion play into what you rap about?
I’m not a super-religious person, but I do believe in a higher power, and I do conversate with a higher power. And you know, a lot of my music has to do with my experiences, and the trials and tribulations, so sometimes I get spiritual. I come from a spiritual household, so you know, I’m just a firm believer. Like I said, “God is good, God is great, I thank you for another day.” I’m tapped into the higher power. As far as spirituality, it’s not present for a lot of people around me, [they] don’t go to church, but I come from a house that was very familiar with God, so it naturally plays into my music.
Back to the Grammys — do you think Kendrick was snubbed for album of the year?
Hell yeah. Nobody else should have won. I don’t think nobody else shoulda won nothing at the Grammys. Straight up, I think he should’ve won every award they had, even awards he wasn’t nominated for, he should have won. [Laughs.]
And now you’re on the Black Panther: The Album. How did that collab come to be?
Shout out my manager Dave-o. He rocks with TDE heavy. I also rock with ‘em heavy. And you know, it was just through our relationship alone [that] they threw the alley-oop. I was unaware of the project cause if you had asked me, it was just a Kendrick Lamar project straight-up. I felt like I’m on a Kendrick album before I saw the track list, and then I was like, “Okay, we on the Black Panther soundtrack.’
I wasn’t familiar with the movie or nothing, so I was just like, “Okay, that’s dope.” And I ain’t came this big yet, so it’s crazy… but my management kept trying to tell me, like, “This is big.” But I didn’t understand the magnitude of it. I do now.
What can you tell me about your relationship with Top Dawg? Have you ever thought about joining TDE officially?
Hell yeah. Tell ‘em I need that bag. Let’s get it popping. I’m already financially legitimate, but get me this paper work. Just TDE and their legacy with the whole TDE name — it’s not a regular record label with the way they operate and the way they move. It’s on a whole other scale. So let’s get that shit signed. Mozzy with TDE? Cmon, that’s crazy.
You said the video of you pouring out lean got more numbers than any music you’ve put out, and then your interview with Complex about the video blew up. What has the response been like to your Kick the Cup campaign?
It’s been platinum. You gonna get a couple people who really ain’t feeling it, who are with the monkey-see-monkey-do, who wanna stop on their own terms, and I respect that. I respect that to the fullest. But at the rate I was going, the time was now. I’m financially secure, so I can purchase it at whatever rate it’s going. I could sip it like it’s water. Once upon a time, I couldn’t purchase it at the rate I’d been purchasing it, so it was like I was limited to how much I could drink. But now I could purchase it with no limit.
But I’d been feeling the effects — the effects on my body, on my personality, on my work. I just wanna be here for my youngins, for my kids. I wanna be here to spend this money. I wanna be here healthy and present. Like I said, health is wealth and I need my bag. I just felt like the time is now. I’m thirty years old, so another ten years and I’m forty. I don’t think I could take another ten years.
I come from a drug-abusive household, neighborhood, my jurisdiction is full of drug abuse — so I feel like I’ve been participating in that field since I was 14, 15, 16. And not just lean, but all types of drugs. I wasn’t doing it for the publicity, I wasn’t doing it for the people, I was doing it for me. Anybody I can assist in the process, that’s dope. If I can get somebody else to fall back on it, or kick the cup, that’s dope. But I was really doing it for myself to let myself know it’s for real this time. I wouldn’t offer it to my kids, so why would I offer it to yours?
Have you seen any changes in your recording process after you decided to quit?
Yes, everything. Like when I go on tour, right after I get done doing a show, whether it be an hour set or what — I’m very energetic, very entertaining. So I don’t be up there just dragging my feet, I be up there in the crowd, and I really give them a performance. But right after I get done [with] that, I can go to the studio and lock out five verses like it’s nothing. Or like — I live in condo with four or five flights of stairs, and I been marching up the stairs with groceries like it’s nothing.
And everything I be doing lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of progress. It don’t matter what it is now, but my energy used to be so embarrassing. It be so embarrassing being under the influence of a drug and trying to do an interview. And I got millions of people watching — not only that but I got my family watching — and it’s embarrassing. I gotta get it together. I’m blessed. I’m in a position I’ve never been in before, and I gotta take advantage of it.
It’s dope, because we damn near run the youth; entertainers run the youth. And I can say that, because once upon a time, I was a youth and I remember who we looked up to. We looked up to the drug lords, because the only people who really succeeded was them and the rappers. People who had the success stories at the end of the day was the entertainers, so they got the heaviest influence, because it’s the music we listened to all day.
I was a fan of Lil Wayne. I didn’t know what he had in his double cup, but I knew I needed a double cup. Whether it was water in it, or Kool-Aid in it, I just know I needed to have two cups in mine, because Lil Wayne had two cups. We’re the governors of the youth. They look up to us and they follow suit on the things we do.
Rollies wouldn’t be as popular if entertainers didn’t make it popular. Chains wouldn’t be popular if we didn’t make it popular. You know them ugly-ass Balenciaga shoes, I don’t know what the motherfuckers look like, but they ugly as shit, but they wouldn’t be popular if it wasn’t for entertainers that make it popular. I just feel like a lot of people follow suit, the youth especially. So if they hear about kicking the cup, or letting Xanax go because we made it public, we’re doing justice for the youth.
What extra motivation has your new daughter given you to become a better artist and man?
I got two daughters, and my newest one Zayda. The real motivation came from Ariana-Dooterz, that’s my first daughter. And I say that because I was stuck in the trenches with her. I couldn’t afford anything, so I would’ve signed my life away for $30,000, just so I could be able to temporarily take care of her.
So the whole push was to make sure she was legitimate, and to get her out the trenches. I didn’t want her growing up in the same community I grew up in, or participating in the same things they participate in out there. So she was my biggest motivation. And as far as Zayda, she was the motivation to get it all in order and stay rich. Ariana-Dooterz’s the motivation to get rich, and Zayda’s the motivation to stay rich. They’ve played a big role in my career, in my life, and in the health-is-wealth movement.
I’m switching a little bit, but I wanna talk about your upcoming EP. What can you tell me about it sound-wise, collab-wise, anything?
Yes, it’s Spiritual Conversations. I’m not sure it’s got too many collaborations cause it’s an EP, so it’s only a couple of songs, and I wanted to give people myself. So it’s tapping into my spirituality, basically just having a conversation with God. We don’t tend to have conversations with God unless we broke, or someone is recently killed, or we in jail, or something traumatic happened. That’s when everybody turned to God.
It’s basically me reflecting on my life, on everything I been through. It’s only a few songs. I’m really prepping for Gangland Landlord, that’s what we’re really working towards. The features on there is crazy. The features are bigger than 1 Up Top Ahk. I don’t wanna throw 1 Up Top under the bus, but I think the people really gonna gravitate towards this one. And it’s also an embodiment of Spiritual Conversations.
You dropped a combined seven projects in 2017, including 5 collaborative EP’s. What is it about the art of collaboration that you appreciate so much?
I just like touching other regions. I like collaborating with people. They make my job easy. Everything usually flows naturally. And like I said, I like touching other regions. So say I do a project with someone from Atlanta, the next time I double back to Atlanta, they familiar with me, because I tapped in with someone from there. Like Trae the Truth — now all of Houston is familiar with Mozzy. You know, I love being able to double back and go to a city where they’re unfamiliar, and then going back and they’re very familiar.
How have you been able to maintain a strong level of quality even with your high number of releases?
I mean ’cause it’s real. This is something I’ve been planning on doing since I was a child. I’ve been prepping for this since my childhood. It’s not since I was 23 or 24, I’ve been rapping since I was like 13 years old. It’s really been my dream since Bow Wow and Romeo was rapping, and they had their little hit singles. So this has really been my life. I used to ditch school to go to the studio. There was no backup plan for me, like it was all or nothing. It wasn’t like I could become an engineer or become a counselor, it was nothing else.
I just feel like the music is real, it’s authentic, it’s dope, and so it’s undeniable. The people gotta gravitate to it, they gotta function with it, cause everything is in sync, both my lifestyle and my music. It’s not like I’m making up voices, or making up lies in these raps — like, you gonna feel like you know me just through my music. And then, if you get to meet me, it’s like, “Man, he sounds just like he raps.” Or, “He acts just like he raps.” Like it’s truth. It’s not watered down or artificial, and I think people gravitate to that.
Who are some of your favorite rappers coming out of Sacramento, or even California in general, right now?
That’s a hard question; I like that question. I don’t wanna miss someone, or say someone who don’t belong. First and foremost, you got people from my jurisdiction like E Mozzy, Y Sic and Lil Rue — they in my camp, so that’s naturally who I listen to all day. I function with Mr. Mosley [a.k.a. Drakeo]. Oh, and Lil Blood, he’s outta Oakland. I ain’t gonna lie, he’s one of my favorite rappers to this day. I should’ve said him first. You got Prezi too, I function with Prezi heavy. There’s a lot of them, but that’s just to name a few.
We started this conversation talking about the Grammys, so I wanna end talking about the Grammys. When do you think we can expect to see Mozzy at the Grammys?
Oooooh, if that ain’t one of the illest questions. They gotta throw me up there, if not 2018, then 2019 for sure. I know it’s kind of early for 2018, so we gonna shoot for 2019. I think eventually they gonna have to put me up there, they’re gonna have to recognize what’s going on. I think the only thing that’s holding me back is the politics — like, not being signed to a label and doing everything independently. I feel like so many doors would open if I was signed to a label, if I had that political backing.
Doing everything by myself makes it difficult, but with real stand up dudes like Kendrick Lamar, I think they gonna make it possible that we get the proper recognition. They gonna have to give us a seat, a front row seat with Jigga and them. Straight up.
Alright, so I’m looking forward to seeing you next to JAY-Z at the 2019 Grammys.
You hear me. And I’m inviting you too. You part of the rise; I’m getting you a Mozzy chain and everything. You’re coming to the Grammys with us.