Mozzy has the attention of the streets simply because he speaks the hood’s language. When Mozzy speaks, his words present themselves as bright, expressive stanzas, proving himself to be a great sermonizer in addition to a talented wordsmith.
Hailing from Sacramento’s toughest neighborhood Oak Park, where things have not always been so sweet for him, the now Grammy Award-nominated artist has always been one to look at the silver linings of conflicted situations. He’s so in love with the “beautiful struggle” that he used the title for two separate songs; in 2015, he titled a track from Bladadah “Beautiful Struggle” and the following year, he released a project of the same name with another song titled “Beautiful Struggle.”
Now, his new album Beyond Bulletproof is slated for release May 1 and its artwork is an ode to the forgotten souls of his community, including drug addicts, the homeless, and those lost because they have been socially defined by their past mistakes.
Mozzy is not afraid to embrace the ugly, and that is the energy his forthcoming album sits in. Even as the entire planet is on a worldwide lockdown and people are mandated to stay indoors as a way to avoid spreading and catching the debilitating coronavirus, Mozzy isn’t really tripping about this moment in time. “I’m in love with it,” he tells Uproxx over the phone.
“The effects it has on family members and just bringing everybody closer together and just pausing,” he continues. “It’s like I could just pause all the materialistic things. None of that sh*t really matter right now. It holds no substance and that’s the type of person I am, so I’m ecstatic about it.”
His journey is similar to that of Nipsey Hussle or Tupac Shakur in that both had goals of helping out their community through the knowledge held in their music. As he rhymes on “I Ain’t Perfect” from Beyond Bulletproof: “I’m returning to the slums to get my people right.”
Plus, Mozzy loves being amongst the people. Perhaps it’s why, as his fame and music have grown, he’s not rapping about materialistic things but about the mentality needed to elevate, as heard on the motivating “Overcame.” The Oak Park native is living proof that it’s possible and he was gingerly inspired by his late grandmother, Brenda Patterson-Usher, who raised him while she was a member of the Black Panther Party.
During our conversation, Mozzy opened up about the intentions behind Beyond Bulletproof, his choice to see a therapist following the passing of his grandmother, and why he loves burgeoning Chicago rap star Polo G.
You got your new album Beyond Bulletproof coming out May 1 and I saw that you have a new series of you speaking to a therapist. I know you just lost your grandmother, which has always been a big part of your music. When did you first realize it was time to see a therapist and that it was okay to do so?
I used to joke about it. I feel like my music has really, truly been a therapist throughout my whole life, as therapy for me. But it’s after losing Grams, after losing my grandmother, I really don’t have nobody that I could communicate with on that type of level. I’m very discreet about certain things with certain people and there’s not too many people that’s on her level. I don’t feel that comfort with that many people. Talking to a therapist and knowing that everything you say is confidential and the fact that she doesn’t know me, I don’t know her; so it’s a lack of judgment there. I just wanted to try it out. I felt like it’d benefit me in the space I’m in right now.
How did you go about finding the right therapist?
I left it up to my manager, but I told him I wanted an African-American lady. I wanted somebody who could understand me and understand the background and upbringing, and somebody who could really sympathize being a young African-American male who lives in America today.
And she has you doing those breathing exercises. Do you find yourself doing that now, pausing and breathing?
Not really. Finally, when I do Wiz’s Kush Up Challenge! I ain’t going to lie, I almost cracked up. I almost started laughing but I was trying to be very respectful. I didn’t want her to think I thought she was a bullshitter. So I held it in. I did good.
Well, how do you relax in those moments where you find yourself really just going off?
I’m really relaxed. I get in a mood, not necessarily with people unless I’m just really comfortable with someone and we have that vibe. But really I get in my real relaxed state of mind, just real calm. I calm everything down when I get on the freeway, when I’m in a car, when I’m by myself, when I’m entitled to cry, when I’m just entitled to freestyle. I’m entitled to do whatever I feel. I’m entitled to say what I feel. When I can yell, when I can let my grandmother know “I miss you.”
This shit hurt, this shit crazy. Sometimes this shit don’t even feel like it’s worth it because it ain’t everything I did it for. I was doing it so she could… I wanted to put a smile on her face. I wanted her to feel all the work and effort she put in. That’s like me putting in so much work, so much effort, and then I don’t really get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It just feels unfair but I’m able to just release all that. I’m able to talk to the universe and just put that out there when I’m on a freeway.
You’ve mentioned before about how she was a great person in the community and always helping out. I see you’ve been doing that. Plus, your music has grown, it’s matured a lot and I hear you rapping about a different subject matter. Do you feel a responsibility to carry on that same legacy as her?
For sure. For sure. I seen Queen And Slim and he said, “As long as my family know my legacy, I’m Gucci and Gabbana.” That’s kind of like her. She wasn’t really worried about the world and outside of the world and me publicizing. She had plenty of times they do interviews to talk about me, even during the time she was very healthy. Just the discreteness within her, it wouldn’t let her do it. I respect that she didn’t have a funeral service. She kept it real close-knit, even though she’s a big dog and a pillar within the community.
She told us she didn’t want others to see us at our weakest hour. That’s why she dictated and directed it to be like that because she didn’t want the world to see us at our weakest hour and I respect it. That’s just the type of person she was. So, sure, carry her legacy within a family. But it’s just within me, period. It’s the way I live. Just the way I raise my daughters, my sincerity. Just taking everything … just doing things with passion, everything. Every little thing that I remember her just reiterating all the time. It come to light nowadays and I try to apply within my daily living.
Your song “I Ain’t Perfect” with Blxst shows it’s okay to not be perfect and no one on earth is, but you can always become a better person. What are some ways that you think that you’ve worked on becoming a better person?
Spending more time with my children, that always helps. It fulfills me. Looking out for people. Instead of looking out for a couple of people this month, we going to look out for 20 people. Even if it’s small, even if it’s minute. Just looking out for people. I’m taking it to the next level of looking out. Just going further with it. Reading; that always assists me. It helps mold me. Dedicating myself to my family. Understanding what a priority is. Understanding how to prioritize and just understanding that we are limited to time on this earth and so whatever it is that I want to accomplish, whether it’s with family, financially, socially, I got a bite down. I got to live within a moment. I got to do it right now, right now. Practicing living in the moment always help me.
I also want to talk about Polo G since he’s featured on the album too. I see him kind of taking those same steps that you, Nipsey Hussle, and G Herbo have. What’s your relationship with him?
Oh, that’s my boy. Polo G. That’s my dog. Pull up to the video shoots. You can invite me to a shoot or even invite me to an interview or whatever the case, and it could be in one of his slimiest, treacherous neighborhood and I’m a blow down on you. I’m going to pull up, I’m going to follow through with that commitment regardless of the potential dangers. I fuck with him heavy since 30. You understand me? It’s a lack of real n****s in this rap shit. A lot of n****s get big-headed when they reach a certain social status and I just got unlimited respect for the ones who still well-grounded in this shit, man, because it’s a little bit all the same.
I know this project’s about second chances, not really being perfect, and really introspective. What is a second chance you were given that you are most grateful for?
Life. Freedom. I feel like I was at a dark space in my life in 2014. One of the darkest. I had my daughter, I was fighting for custody, I was broke, I was living with granny and I’ve just had a lot of conflict. I was funking with the neighborhood, I was funking with the opposition. I just had a lot going on. I really didn’t care about life, I didn’t care about death. It’s crazy that I… because I could feel it, I could taste it, I could smell it right now. I recall just vividly being in that, under those circumstances.
I went to jail. I went to jail for something minute. I could’ve went to jail for something crazy, but I went to jail for something minute. I got full understanding that God function with me. It got to be God. It got to be a higher power and I got to be in his favor because it was just ugly. It was ugly for me and he set me down, temporarily, just momentarily type shit. He let me get my mind right. He gave me enough time. It wasn’t too little, it wasn’t too much. I came home and I got to work. It’s just blessings upon blessing. I’m grateful. Thankful.
Love it. What is the ultimate thing you want people to get out of Beyond Bulletproof and what do we have to look forward to in the future?
The definition of bulletproof love. I just want to stay up there. I feel like I’m the face of Beyond Bulletproof. I feel like I’m the face of bulletproof love. I just wanted to take it a step further and let them know it’s Beyond Bulletproof. I really believe this shit on and off cameras. I want the forgotten. I want the one’s that’s overlooked. I want them to feel like it’s their time to shine. That n**** talking about me, he’s talking about my life. This album — it’s for me. I want them to feel possessive of the album. I want them to feel like that motherfucker was painted direct specifically for them. I just want them to be able to utilize it as a therapy tool. Cry to it, laugh to it, smile to it, get mad to it. It’s a roller coaster of emotion. I want them to really experience it, you understand? In a 3D manner.
This is random, but I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with self-help books like Think & Grow Rich?
Oh yeah, for sure.
It sounds like, with your music and Nipsey Hussle and music like that… it sounds like your music is that for the hood?
That was the best way you could paint it. I know a lot of people get mad at me cause I ain’t been on that raw-raw hype lately. I ain’t been on that 1 Up Top Ahk. I ain’t really been on that hype. I’ve been on a more progressive hype. I’m on a more productive hype and more uplifting. I think it just got a lot more substance.
My core fanbase don’t really fuck with it like that, but it’s growth and development and I understand the process. I ain’t going to be great living in 2008. I can’t be great if I’m still living in 2008. I got to progress with the time and that’s what I’m doing. My music has always been my truth. Truthfully, right now this is how I feel. I don’t know if it’s because I got a bag or cause I live on a 50th floor or cause I could take any car I want to drive this week. I don’t know if that’s the case, but I’m just in a more uplifting spirit and that’s what you’re going to get out of this album.
Beyond Bulletproof is due 5/1 on Empire. Pre-order it here.