Almost one year ago, Boston's very own Cousin Stizz dropped the Goodwin-directed video for "Shoutout," a hypnotizing crew anthem with the hook—Shoutout to the money, love the drugs—that's stuck in your head for days. Just ask Drake, who couldn't help but celebrate his birthday at Dave & Buster's last year with the O'Beatz-produced track as his soundtrack. Over the next few months, Stizz gained even more of a buzz as people caught the wave of "Shoutout" and he released two tracks—"Gone Til November" and "A-World," neither of which will land on a future project but kept fans excited, nonetheless.
Today, months after the rise of "Shoutout," we're excited to debut Stizz's Suffolk County, a 13-track project with one solo feature from Jefe Replay and production from Tee-WaTT, DrumDrumz, Lil Rich, M. Ali, Latrell James, and Tedd Boyd. We caught up with the 23-year-old Boston MC to hear about his start on the music scene, being BFFs with Michael Christmas, "Shoutout" success, and more.
Plus, you can stream Suffolk County right here:
Tell us about your start in music.
I’m from Boston. Music was just something I would do when I got high and kicked it with the homies. I’m 23 now but I started taking music seriously when I was 18. I didn’t have a fallback plan. I was doing shit that wasn’t so good and I got into some little legal issues. I basically couldn’t leave the state. I just needed to vent. I needed a way to get out some of the shit that I was going through. That was the turning point when I figured that I should start doing something different. I couldn’t really be on that same path that I was on.
What was your sound like back then?
I collaborated a lot [with others] during those first few years. I tried to learn what I could from others. I always knew that I would come back to doing me. At that point, it was just fun shit. I didn’t realize that music was something that I could really do until I saw Michael Christmas and my homies start taking it more seriously.
Everything popped off with "Shoutout" last year, too.
That song was really different. That song was made in maybe 45 minutes. It was really quick. I think that’s why it popped off like that. I was chilling with my homies and I was like, “I’ve got this beat from Obeatz.” Back then only my friends were sending me beats, so I was just doing what I could, but that beat was wavy. We had the beat on repeat and I was just dancing and freestyling. I don’t like to beat people’s ears up. I was going for that chill vibe but I do listen to a lot of trap music. I was just trying to combine those two elements. So, I wrote the song in 45 minutes and then we laid it down the next day.
What music were you listening to around that time?
I’m sure I was listening to a lot of Gucci, a lot of Gleesh, a lot of Young Thug, and a lot of Future. I was probably listening to a lot of Wiz Khalifa, too.
What changed once the song dropped?
Everything changed. There was the Instagram video of Drake listening to the song at Dave & Buster’s and that changed everything. Shoutout to Dave & Buster’s. I still don’t know how he heard it. Makonnen told me that Oliver from OVO played it at a hotel party and a couple of days before that they were playing it on the bus. You don’t really think it’s true until you see it. It just sounded too far-fetched. Someone actually sent me a link to the video as I was coming home late. I had to watch it a few times before I could really believe it. I watched it six or seven times then I ran into the living room and woke my mom up. We watched it together.
A video posted by MR. Morgan (@morgan_mr) on Oct 23, 2014 at 11:47pm PDT
Take me through the last year of crafting Suffolk County.
The last year of crafting this project has been crazy. We thought that we were done with the project four or five times before this. That’s what I love about my team. We always feel like we can do better. For a while we were just replacing old music with better music. I spend a lot of time trying to find producers who will rock with me. I wanted to keep it homegrown. I didn’t want to pull any big names. Every producer on the project is amazing. I found DumDrumz on Twitter. He heard “Shoutout” and then followed me. Lil Rich was kind of the same thing. I found him on Soundcloud, I came across one of his songs on there and the production was crazy. I hit him up to ask who produced it and it turned out that he did it himself. Tim [Larew] found Tee-WaTT, the producer on “Dirty Bands." He’s an animal. The whole project is really homegrown like that and it’s beautiful.
I just wanted to tell our story. I named the project Suffolk County for a reason. Everything about this tape has actually happened. I wanted to create something that people could relate to and, at the same time, something that could make you move your feet a little bit. I know people have gone through this shit because I’ve gone through this shit. There are songs where I’m talking about SXSW and there are songs where I’m talking about myself at 16. It’s just experience. The tape is just a collection of experiences. I named it Suffolk County because I’m still here. You can still find me on the same street hanging with the same people.
What is your favorite song from the project right now?
There’s a song called “No Explanation." That song is special to me. The hook is about SXSW. It’s just the song where I’m becoming the artist that I’m supposed to be.
Jeff Replay is the only feature on the mixtape, too. How'd you connect?
I don’t think that it’s about having or not having features. If it sounds right, then I’m with it. That’s my brother from another mother. Jeff is the man. He connected a lot of dots in 2012, before any of us knew each other. He was there when I did my "12 For 12" cypher. That was the night that we all met each other. That’s when I met Michael Christmas and Goodwin. OG [Swaggerdick] came out that night and it was the first time that I’d seen him in years. That was my first time rapping on camera. I got a lot of love that night.
What’s next for you?
I just hope that people really rock with my shit. It’s all about giving people something to move to and relate to. As far as what’s next, I’m just going to start working on the next project as soon as this is done. I love making music. It gives me a reason to believe that something’s real.
Lauren Nostro is the news editor at Complex Music. Follow her @laurennostro.