Mozzy isn’t afraid to cry in his music.
The Sacramento-bred street rapper, who’s gained acclaim over the last several years for his colorful, melodic depictions of gang life and gun violence in the northern California city, doesn’t shun emotions. Mozzy’s music slaps, but the gruff lyricist is a bard.
His latest release, Gangland Landlord, finds Mozzy once again wrestling with indelible pain. It is a haunting, elegiac record that plumbs familiar territory: the urgency of success, the omnipresence of violence, and the agonizingly quotidian tragedy of losing loved ones.
“I ain’t gon’ lie, that’s the best way to deal with it. ‘Cause it’s like, I wanna have a conversation. I wanna cry, I wanna talk to somebody, but we macho,” he told me recently over lunch near Times Square. “You can’t cry to nobody.”
Mozzy is slight in frame but commanding in presence. A mass of freeform dreadlocks sit atop his head; he shakes his head—and the locs—reflexively as he speaks. The 31-year-old rapper is unmistakably Northern California in his mannerisms. He peppers his sentences with obligatory yay yays and haaaas, his cadence both slow and bouncy. But Mozzy’s attention to the constraints of black masculinity, and his concerns about the dangers of vulnerability, extend far beyond his home region.
“They’ll use it against you, you feel me? Same person you cry to will use it against you,” he continued. “You’ll be in a argument 30 minutes later, and they’ll be talkin’ ‘bout shut yo bitch ass up, nigga, you was just cryin’ and shit. So I put it in my music.”