J. Cole is wasting no time expanding his Dreamville/Interscope roster. After signing longtime associate Bas earlier this year, Cole has now added Cozz, a 20-year-old rapper out of South Central Los Angeles.
Cozz's catalog is scarce; he only has two songs to his name. But once you hear them you'll understand what Cole sees in the young lyricist. There's "I Need That," a gripping track that highlights his abilities and and passion on the microphone. "Dreams" further drives this point home with Cozz describing his lofty aspirations, a theme that falls neatly in line with his new Dreamville home. No wonder they were such a good match.
Complex caught up with the rapper, who talked about joining the Dreamville team and what listeners can expect from his debut album Cozz & Effect. He also details a recent meeting with Game, who also showed interest in signing the Cali native.
Interview by Edwin Ortiz (@iTunesEra)
How did this deal with Dreamville/Interscope come about? It kind of caught people by surprise like, “Who is this Cozz dude?”
Tone—aka Anthony, my manager—he used to intern at Interscope, and basically he was like, “You want to get serious about rapping?” He knew I rapped, or was trying to, so we started recording. Then we put the “Dreams” video out a couple months back, and we had labels just hitting us up left and right. We had meetings every day. We knew what we wanted, and we felt like we was worth a lot too, so we shopped around with the label thing.
Then we had a homie named Matt who brought the video to J. Cole, and Cole liked it. We met up with Cole and in between these months we just been working it out with the whole deal and getting these contracts right. So it basically happened off the “Dreams” video.
You mentioned how labels were reaching out and you were meeting with these people, but they didn’t really have what you were looking for. What’s the vision you have for your music?
My project, Cozz & Effect, is pretty much done, and we felt like the music was so strong. We wanted full creative control, and we wanted to kind of do the whole thing ourselves. With Cole and Dreamville, they gave us that flexibility to do whatever we felt like we needed to do music-wise with putting stuff out, what videos we wanted to drop, and what we wanted to shoot. That’s what we were mainly looking for. And we judge on character, too. We feel like Dreamville as a whole, they’re just real genuine people too. So we really rocked with them on that.
When did you first meet J. Cole?
I would say about a month and a half ago.
So it was fairly recent.
Yeah, real recent.
The reason I ask is because I saw that photo of you, Tone, and Ibrahim Hamad of Dreamville from like April.
Right. We had definitely been in talks with them for awhile. They really was just rocking with the whole movement, and like I said, we didn’t just have “Dreams.” When we met up with them we had pretty much a whole project, and they just rocked with everything. So we started to talk from there. That day [of the photo], we went out to dinner, and we were just talking and discussing business. That picture is the first time we met Cole and Ib and all them.
That’s got to be a great feeling for someone like Cole to say, “This guy is next.”
It is. I’m still taking it in. It’s still brand new for me, the fact that I’ve never dropped nothing else, and like you said, Cole digs it. It’s crazy.
You were also spotted with Game a few months back. What was that meeting about?
My homie Tunji, pretty sure you’ve heard of him—he’s an A&R at Interscope—he played [“Dreams”] for Game, and Game liked the song. So we met up for dinner to talk a little business.
Was Game showing an interest in signing you as well?
Yeah, he was showing interest. I didn’t think it was the right move for us. But he was showing interest, for sure.
What can fans expect from your upcoming album Cozz & Effect? What’s the theme of the project?
Basically, it’s my story. It’s like a piece of me. I just feel like it’s something the world has never heard before. I feel like I got stuff on there that’ll hit you deep like “Dreams,” and I got my fun stuff too. I got both sides of the world. I’m so anxious to put it out, man.
This is a project you’ve been working on prior to the signing with Dreamville. Did the signing change the trajectory of it, or is it still the same project that you were going to be releasing before the deal?
It’s the same project, man, same project. Same thing we were working on before the deals and everything. We put this together ourselves. Cole liked it the way it is, so there ain’t really too many changes on it.
Do you have any collaborations on the album?
I got two. It’s people within my city. It might change though. But as of right now, it’s just them.
When you release Cozz & Effect will it be independently or under the banner of Dreamville/Interscope?
It’s going to be through Dreamville/Interscope.
So it’s an official release, with a price tag.
Yep, it’s going to be released on shelves.
Is there a specific release date in mind?
We’re figuring that out. Definitely before the summer ends.
Aside from your own project, has there been anything else that you’ve worked on, whether it be something with J. Cole or another rapper?
Not at all, man. I've really just been focused on my music right now. I’m still brand new to it too, so I just want to make sure my whole craft is down before I really venture out and start working on other stuff.
Have you had the chance to meet up with Cole in the studio yet?
I've been in the studio with him. We haven’t worked on a song together or anything, yet.
Put an asterisk next to that statement.
[Laughs.] Most definitely. I’m trying to do that ASAP.
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