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Boston native Cousin Stizz has been making waves in music with the release of his critically-praised 2015 project, “Suffolk County” and 2016 follow-up, “Monda.” The young emcee returns with some more heat for listeners in his latest mixtape, “One Night Only,” released on July 12, 2017.
The newly RCA-signed hype wastes no time in delivering another perspective on growing up in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Through this latest mixtape, Stizz manages to delve further into his upbringing while giving listeners a well polished yet grittier sound than his mainstream counterparts. Calling in production help from Virginia’s own Tee-WaTT, “One Night Only” finds Stizz in familiar rhyming territory with a little more polish and growth in sound.
Before the days of internet-rap entrepreneurs like Chance the Rapper and Mac Miller, getting signed to a major label was the proverbial Holy Grail to a young artist from humble beginnings. Not only was the backing of a major label a “Mama We Made It” moment, but it was access to funds and opened doors that were relatively unknown. So, it was not surprising that once Cousin Stizz signed the deal and his first check, he headed to the West Coast for California dreaming.
The change of scenery from the hard and cold streets of Boston, to a new land of opportunity and a step closer to his dreams, it only makes sense that he puts that joy into his music. Influenced by the sounds of California, his opener “Switch Places” finds the rapper taking a jab at the naysayers and haters as he boasts about his new life. Laced with braggadocious rhymes of materialism over a reverberating beat that echoes the sound of an early Wiz Khalifa.
Going off the California vibe, his following tracks show his affinity for trap music: “Lambo” and “Paid” finds the rapper dumbing down his lyricism and puns for a more repetitive wordplay and hook. The two tracks are definitely something a listener would enjoy more under the influence of something mind-altering. Even the Quavo-assisted trap anthem “Headlock” finds both of the rappers going toe-to-toe with lyrics that breed a nursery rhyme-esque melody.
Stizz continues this cool bravado over some bounce tracks as “One Night Only” progresses. “No Ice” and “Paper Calling” are some of the most standout tracks on the tape. This is not necessarily a good thing. Both tracks follow a hybrid sound of Future lyricism and Migos repetition on an ethereal, bass-heavy beat. The production outshines the wordplay on both of these tracks.
The Big Leano-assisted “The Store” also follows this same repetition over a bounce-beat method. Stizz seems to regain his momentum with this track and it is clear, at this point in the tape that he is just having fun with an unexpected sound. There is still a catchiness to them that is undeniable, but it seems the rapper is experimenting the most with an Atlanta sound that has flooded mainstream.
Although Stizz finds himself more comfortable tackling a sound that is so prevalent in most southern rappers, he misses the mark in a few of his endeavors on “One Night Only.” Even G-Eazy could not save the mentally draining sounds of “Neimans Barneys.” The materialistic anthem to thrift shopping is simple and uninspired.
His attempt at romance with “Pull Up” is not as monotonous as other experimental attempts and even is a moderately charming listen. However, the R&B track seems out of place and dated. Even Stizz sounds reluctant on the track.
“One Night Only” is not for Stizz what “So Far Gone” was to Drake, or “Friday Night Lights” was for J. Cole. Stizz has already received his deal and is already selling out shows. He has reached success in his lane, but it is clear that he is still searching for a sound that fits his brand.
The mixtape is Stizz toying with a few new producers, rhyme flow, and style that does not stray too far from his norm, but is still distinct enough to set the 25-year-old rapper apart from his competitors. Although experimentation does not always bode well, Stizz has a prowess on the track that helps him stand out. With a unique laid-back delivery and hypnotic flow, he is still carving his lane in the industry.
In his previous work, Stizz seemed hungrier to make that check and grind. Now that he has been signed and reached a level of success, the rapper must find a balance between his original gritty sound, the glossy, and the real.
Opinion by Tyler Cole
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Noisey: Cousin Stizz Is the Hypnotic Rapper Giving Boston a Shout Out
Pigeons and Planes: Who Is Cousin Stizz?
Cousin Stizz: Official Website
Featured Image Courtesy of Goodwin – Creative Commons License
Top and Second Image Courtesy of RCA Records – Used With Permission