Interview: Mozzy discuss his formative years growing up in Sacramento, the differences between Sacramento and Bay rap, his Twitter takedown of Rich the Kid.
Mozzy is about to drop his twelfth album of 2016.
It's called 1 Up Top Akh. One week ago, he released the album single "Messy Murder Scenes." "A sucka died, I love the nigga that murdered him," he raps matter-of-factly. "Another sucka died, I love the nigga that murdered him."
After a run-in with Elmo in Times Square, Mozzy stopped by the HNHH office during a recent trip NYC to discuss his formative years growing up in Sacramento (a city of two million), the differences between Sacramento and Bay rap, his epic Twitter takedown of Rich the Kid, and his epic album run, which began when he last got out of jail in April 2015. When asked if there's any way he'll wind up back in jail, the 29-year-old, replied, “Shit, no! I'm too old for that shit. That shit is for failures, man."
How old were you when started rapping?
I've been doing this music stuff forever, since I was like 9 or 10. I got on my first CD at 12. The upbringing was dope. My grandmother raised me -- hella strict, hella militant.
Really? How so?
She gon’ put you to work. Her favorite word is work, so she strict as far as when she come home, she want certain shit the way she want it -- lines cut, car washed, dishes done. Meal is on the stove. You feel me? She ain't play about school, about grades -- she would pull up there and sit in class with me when I was 16 years old, she don't give a fuck. She was very strict and adamant, and stayed on top of me.
Did that influence your work ethic now as an artist? Because you've put out, like, 14 albums in the last year and a half.
Crazy, I just texted her, and told her I appreciate the work ethic she instilled in me. I think it got a lot to do with her
You grew up in the Oak Park section of Sacramento. How would you describe that neighborhood.
Very close knit neighborhood, everybody know everybody. When I say neighborhood, it look like a neighborhood. I wouldn't just say like poverty-stricken, but you can see the wear and tear in it. I went to every school in that neighborhood from preschool all the way to high school. Never went to school outside of that neighborhood. Never lived outside of that neighborhood.
Do you still live there?
My grandmother reside there. I live in LA right now, but I be back and forth. Hell yeah, my whole family live in that neighborhood - we got about probably like six or seven properties in that thing.
What were you like as a kid? Around age 8 to 10.
Quiet, shy, sneaky, kind of conniving, but very ambitious. I was always thinking of ways to make money - cutting lines, selling candy - I learnt how to recruit salesman for me to sell the candy. I was very entrepreneurial at them ages. We used to go to Smart & Final, buy hella boxes of candy. We'd go to the community center and take papers, and represent those papers to people as if this was the candy selling floor. And that shit worked.
It was a lucrative business?
What were you listening to around that time? What inspired you to pick up the pen at such a young age?
Just rap itself. At that age, everything was big and amazing for me. I had the talent, but the thing that made me pick up the pen was just seeing people. I went to a talent show and I saw somebody my age and I seen the effect they had on the audience, including myself. From that moment, I decided I want that kind of strength.
How old were you?
I was probably 10 or 11.
What was the first song you made?
Actually the first song I made was gospel. That talent show was on some gospel shit, so it was definitely on some positive shit. I think I remember the song title. It was called "Only Takes One Time” and it was about it only taking one time for a nigga to get into some shit or trouble, and then it takes forever to get out of. It only takes one time for you to hit a substance, and become addicted to that shit -- I think I was talking about shit like that. But hell yeah, I was inspired by people of my age.
I know you were really into The Jacka.
That was more when I started progressing in my teenage years. When I start participating in street activities. It was just crazy the detail of the shit he was saying, and the shit I was experiencing. I was actually experiencing the details he was rapping about. I just felt like he was the realest. You gotta actually go through some of these things to pinpoint, so I just thought he was hella authentic as a kid. Him and Messy Marv, I fuck with Messy Marv too. But yeah, that shit -- it just touched my soul. That shit is soul-touching straight up. Rest in peace The Jacka.
Who else had that authenticity that you could relate to?
DMX. I could just feel his rawness. My whole thing is, I ain’t really trippin' off the super shiny shit, and the flamboyant shit. That ain't really the topic of my discussions. That's how I feel about both the artists we just named -- DMX and The Jacka. That was in they lane.
You were in a gang for a long time. In retrospect, was it inevitable that you got involved in gang life?
It wasn't something you decided to get into -- I mean some people decide it -- but as you said, it was inevitable. It's your jurisdiction, it's your surroundings. When I'm walking to school, at 14 or 15, I'm walking by myself, people is asking me where I'm from. Niggas is jumping me. When I'd visit my mom in North Highlands, Niggas is gangbanginh on me. They ask me where I live. I tell them I live in Oak Park. They beat you up for saying you live in Oak Park. “Fuck Oak Park!” It just naturally came. It ain't get serious ‘til you start losing your loved ones. Then it take you to another place.
Sacramento is obviously connected to Bay culture and the Bay rap scene, but it's got its own thing going on. In what ways is Sacramento different from The Bay?
Just off the dribble, we try to find a way to identify ourselves other than the Bay. Truth be told, we not the Bay. The Bay will let you know we not the Bay. We still in search of identification, but the Bay Area don't gang bang. Sacramento got a lot of gangs. We tryna find a difference between that shit right now. But I think I'm the difference. Straight up.
Does that make you proud to be holding it down for Sacramento?
Like a mothafucker, you know. I'm not a person who moved here when he was 16, I really been here, bred, and it's all I know. Like I said, my grandmother, all her houses are in Oak Park. This is all we know. When I do my music, I make sure to separate ourselves. We don't use [The Bay’s] identification. We use our own words and language.
We fuck with the Bay heavy. That whole music scene is what we grew up on. Naturally, ain’t no denying that. When you listen to that, you start talking like that. We gotta find our own identification. I think I'm helping the city with that for sure, me and my squad.
I'm seeing the fans, they identifying the city with our slang. Bladadah. Activities. Festivities. Slitherin’. All that shit, you already know. Gangland. I'm seeing that shit starting to really open up.
Have you met Marshawn Lynch or Shaq Thompson?
Not Shaq, but I met Marshawn. It was crazy. He approached me cause he really fucked with my music. I think I tapped in with him over social media first, he posted some of our shit. When I finally got to meet him. Very humble dude, genuine.
You guys are alike. Honest and not super flashy. What's it like when you're walking through Sacramento? Do you get recognized?
Right now, I walk through a bunch of malls and it ain’t that crazy. I can still walk without security.
Has the response been different outside Northern California?
Crazy, the UK fuck with us heavy. And in America, we go to any state, and the fans know our shit verbatim. It's mind-boggling. I never imagined this shit spreading. The dream of course was to make it big, but it's different when you're really experiencing it.
The Bay and Sacramento is a pretty contained hip hop community -- why do you think you've been able to break out of that region?
'Cause I'm making something different so people is gravitating to it. Just funny bones with the shit that we talk about. The shit that we talk about goes on worldwide. Real life events. And they tapping into it. And I'm a little more aggressive with it. There ain’t no other options. I,mma die doing this.
I feel like you can rap on any beat.
What's your daughter's name?
Ariana Patterson. she’s three years old.
What's she like?
She just like me, but without the shyness. She hella creative, active -- she's me. She's really me. We go to Disneyland, watch cartoons, regular shit, tickling her. Potty training.
Is she off the diapers yet?
She just got off those motherfuckers. Oh my god. Gamechanger. That's my only child. That's my pride and joy. I got custody of her, she don't really tap in with her mom, we don't really fuck with her, so that's just really me.
You just dropped that album with Philthy Rich. How did y’all connect?
The album came naturally. He heard one of my projects The Truth, and he was just feeling the nigga gangsta. We tapped in. I was starving, and we cooked up and made that shit happen. He's a good dude.
It must be hard to keep up the pace of album’s you're at right now.
This pace ain't nothing. I kinda calmed down. They told me I put too much music out, management told me to cool out. This is all I do. I wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning and write raps. It's everything I do. This is it. I been doing this shit forever. No slowing down.
Do you write in a notebook, or do you have to feel the beat?
Both. First and foremost, I'm notebook, old school. My style is really about describing what's going on. The beat gotta touch me too. If I don't feel the beat, then it ain't my song, I don't want it.
Good lookin', I love that mothafucka.
It's sad and kind of uplifting at the same time.
You pinpointed it, straight up.
What do you do for fun to kick back?
Smoke weed. I use backwoods. No sativa/indica preference, but the weed gotta be top shelf. I be chillin’. I don't like clubs -i if we ain't getting paid for it, I ain't showing up. I like being with my people.
You called out Rich The Kid for advertising $4,000 for a verse in your DMs. Why did that rub you the wrong way?
Man, listen. We do this shit. The music we make is authentic. Not to discredit others, but we take pride in this shit. I never in my life paid anyone for a verse ‘cause I feel like I'm doper than everybody. I'm not paying nobody that's not doper than me for no motherfucking verse. I felt like he solicited. He hit my inbox asking for $4000 for a verse. I didn't hit his inbox. Rich The Kid wasn't on my radar. So he jumped in my inbox -- you jumping in a street nigga inbox soliciting for your verse? Watch out, back up. You need to check a nigga's credentials. You can't help us. So that's how I felt. I felt he was being disrespectful. I don't reach out to celebrities or nothing. Whoever I got on a song, I think he thought I was paying them. Like I'm out here buying verses.
You've really solidified yourself in the last year. What are your goals for the next year? Are you goal-oriented?
I'm goal-minded and I go with the flow. I’mma change the game with my next project, I want people to see me in a new light.
We just working. Where I'm at in my life right now, I already feel successful. I'm blessed. I'm taking this shit one day at a time. We gonna keep the pressure alive. I need the world tour. I need the world tour checks. Is this a world tour or your girl's tour?