Mozzy exemplifies the strength of street knowledge. The hardest, the hottest, and inarguably the most sonically honest artist in hip-hop talks music, manhood, money, and modern day Gangsta mentality in this LOOT & RIOT Exclusive.


Ink Tone Swep 
Images Jennamchele | PhotoJenic Artistree   
Looks Soukéna Jean-Jacques 
Asst Looks Ian Pinckney 
Lines Fantasia Levi 
Location Ocean Front Tattoo Studio, Venice Beach, CA   

Due to decades invested in gang set equity Mozzy classics like “Sleep Walkin”, “Ain’t Shit Happen”, “Activities”, “Perk Callin”, and the lightning rod which lit it all in the national smash “Bladadah” each read like hood books on tape. Indeed, ride for a day to the Mozzy music catalogue and you will live, survive, wound, heal, die, purge your demons in purgatory then resurrect to reset like Let’s Do It Again is on replay. That fake sh!t is hearsay. This real sh!t is here to stay. Gangland Landlord, get that, hear what it say. Find Mozzy here, styled in street glam selects by Soukéna Jean-Jacques and captured by persona-aura phenom Jennamchele, on a hot August day in Venice Beach for his L&R exclusive cover story.

Your catalogue is so extensive, man. Impressively so. With more than 20 albums under your belt going back to the Money Means Mozzy series, plus the collaborative projects. What has been the internal driving force behind all of this music? I was just concentrating my forces. I knew if I stayed consistent I could win at this rap sh!t. I knew I could produce a thousand dollars off of each album digitally. This was in like ’09 or ’10. And I knew if I had one song to pop, just a slapper that had everybody going, they would circle back to the whole catalogue, and that’s exactly what happened. Bladadah did that. I taught myself to upload my music on iTunes first, then as I discovered different platforms or when new platforms came out, I learned to put my music on those platforms as well. This was all done digitally. It just took off, started generating more and more revenue, spreading further out to different states expanding the fan-base while keeping the core fans. I would never want to abandon or feel like I’ve gotten too big for my core audience because they are the one’s who went hardest for a n!99a in the beginning and got me here.

And how about external motivation. What factors would you say summarize your ambition? Why were you so determined to make this music career you had envisioned actualize? It’s what I’ve been doing for a lifetime. I have been doing this my entire life. It’s what I woke up working toward, worked on all day, and fell asleep three, four in the morning working on. And I knew couldn’t nobody fuck with me in rap. I knew I had the ability, and even more so the heart for this shit. Rap is my ring, my arena. My calling. I was born to do this, but I knew from an early age that it wouldn’t be handed to me. So I worked, sometimes I worked harder than maybe I should have or needed to just because I knew all the work would pay dividends ten times greater than that work I invested, feel me.

What is the earliest experience you can recall, a time where you made some music? Even if it was just writing a song on paper. (Contemplates, reflects…) When I was around 11, I went to a talent show in Del Paso Heights. I saw these two kids, they may have been twins but they could have just been brothers who were close in age. They performed a gospel rap song. And the people in attendance were into it. I went home and wrote a gospel rap song, and I would read it over and over just walking around the house rappin’ until I remembered it. I got a rush from saying it for my lil’ n!99as at school or in the neighborhood. How they’d be like “Awwwhhhh, that’s hard!” They fucked with a young n!66a so I kept at it. And you know that feeling, that rush, it never goes away. Even today, when I do a show, that light inside me comes on. Bright as hell, too.

You grew up in Oak Park, the bloodiest part of South Sacramento. Describe the elements and energy that surrounded you in your community. As far as the gangs, streets, drugs, guns and all that my family was involved in the streets. It’s nothing I had to go out and search for. My uncles, my pops, all the big dogs, the n!99as driving Nova’s and 5.0 cars, the dudes bringing money home to they families and out there getting money were bangin’. But it was more organized than it is today. Certain things weren’t allowed, there were rules, and rank, and structure. And all of this internet fuckery wasn’t going on. Everything you were known for was dependent on your reputation. So you had to earn your rep and then live up to it. Now it’s clout chasing. Do you have more money than he has? That shouldn’t mean shit, it didn’t to us. But it mean everything to these little n!66as running around with the flag now.

So your upbringing essentially prepared you for the life you ended up living. I had a beautiful upbringing. My grandmother taught me everything, I knew right from wrong. But at a certain age you start doing the local thing. I started off n!66a knocking, kicking people’s cars to trigger their alarms, started ditching school, then it gradually progressed from there in a negative way. Now I’m kicking in doors, rummaging through safes looking for guns and money. And it honestly seemed like the normal thing to do, like nothing is wrong with what you are doing because you are just participating in the same activities most of the kids your age are engaged in.

What was your thought process on a daily basis? How does one organize their lives in the midst of chaos? Outside looking in, I was able to navigate, but like, I got caught up. I served prison time. I did county time. My little brother had to walk around shittin’ in a bag for a few months. I been shot at multiple times. People with me been shot, almost had their lives taken, and I know its for being with me. But I’m beyond blessed. It’s not like I did anything differently, or some master plan worked. God just picked me out the lineup and said ‘You. I’ma help you. I’ma bless you’. And I’m not sure why. I’m just very blessed to be one of the few that slithered through the cracks. It wasn’t me being smarter or wiser. I’m just blessed to be in the position I’m in and to have the life I have and I’ma keep working hard and being smart to maintain it. Just keep progressing. 

Was there a period in time when you were doing this and still actively bangin’? One foot in the industry, the other in-da-streets. What unique conflicts did that cause? I feel like I’m going through the transition right now as we speak. Dudes die in my community, they families want me to pay for the funeral. Some sh!t goes down in my hood, they want me to be the one to address it. But I’m in the NBA now, the major leagues. What I’m doing right here, right now, will benefit more people in the long term than me sliding through now to hurt somebody. And for what? Risk it all for what? I’m not jeapordizing this music shit for that. If we was in the hood right now, we’d have to make people respect how we get our money. Whether you slangin’ dope or tacos or wrapping Subway sandwiches they need to respect that is how you affording to live. Well currently today this is how I feed my family. This is how I sustain a healthy lifestyle for the people I love. Because I already proved my gangsta is immaculate. I ain’t never told on nobody. I repped the set, did all the hood shit. Root for me. 
Success in anything breeds envy and contempt though, no? Hell yea! Of course it does. I know they still want my head. It’s still slimy. And even more now because he can earn him a little name for himself by being the ni66a that did Mozzy dirty. I know it. I’m watching, I watch everything. I see everything man. Everything.
What you’re doing in rap, in your career, hasn’t happened before with an artist from Sac. There really isn’t a comparative, no one anywhere near where you’re at for you to use as a measuring stick or guideline. For example, Nipsey can look to a Snoop, perhaps. Or Fabolous can look to a Jay-Z. What is your blueprint for continued success? My expectations are to keep doing the unexpected. I’m living the dream. A dream come true. Beyond blessed. I want to keep pushing myself to see how far I can take it. Like Jay Z or Diddy, I want to be like them as far as having many different business ventures. I want to be that successful so that generation’s after me have a running start. I also want to be a pillar within my community. I want to take my success and help others be successful. Especially the youth, because they have their entire lifetime in front of them but the shit they do now is really going to impact how things go way, way down the line for them. Lot of ’em don’t know that. I didn’t know that.
Do you feel that contemporary gang culture represents anything positive for the youth of today? I ask because it used to be a safe house of sorts, now the violence is more random. And as you said earlier a lot has changed. What’s your take? Hell yea. Hell yea! Gangs provide comfort, brotherly love, gangs provide shelters for us minorities coming from these broken households, or sometimes no household at all. There’s a lot more homeless youth than what gets reported. And to this day if I see a little n!99a from my community, he’s one of mines. I don’t even know this little n!99a, but if he’s from my hood I’m obligated to look out for him. If a n!99a get his chain snatched in my hood, I’ma see if I can mediate that situation and get him his jewelry back.
Gang culture at its best, or at least most productive, has a familial foundation. Like, that’s the purpose of it. Exactly man. That’s exactly what it is, because like I said, broken households, feel me? Something is missing. Shit, someone is missing (Laughs!). And I got a million people like that though. Christmas time come around? Its 15 to 20 different houses full of kids I’m getting toys for. So gang culture is family oriented. His moms did dope like my moms. His pops did time like my pops. Shit, that’s my brother. These other dudes, we can’t talk to them. They got parents, homes, getting driven to school and helped with they homework. They don’t need us. We need each other.
Let’s talk about money. Is it inherently evil or is it man’s intentions for it’s use? I ain’t turned evil yet. I probably ain’t got too much money then I guess (Laughs!). It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. I think money is a positive thing, honestly. You can assist people. You can improve the quality of your life, of other people’s lives. Money gives you the freedom to get out here and see what the world got to offer, so you won’t be restricted to small areas. It gives you more room to move around. Money is a big part of our society if not the most important part. It’s right up there with air. See the issue is financial literacy, understanding money. The evil comes to play because of the things a person will do, the depths they’ll sink down to, in order to provide for their family. I know. I been there; been that evil one. It’s a bad place to be in but so is not having money.
How has fatherhood changed you? In every way possible. I’m softer, smoother, calmer, I care about life more. I actually care whether or not I’m present. I care whether I’m in jail or home. It’s taught me a lot about stability. I can’t be living out of cars or different places. Shit, I was expecting to party until I was 40 (Laughs!). But as a father I have to be home and in my child’s life consistently because a child is more receptive to one’s actions. You can preach all day, but it’s what you demonstrate that’s most important to your child. Especially as a dad. They watch us real closely.
We discussed gangs and money earlier. What is your explanation of each for your kids? My little cousin or nephew pull up on me talking about he ready to bang, or if I see him throwing up signs on the Gram, I would push a line on him. I’ma let him know – any violent crime you commit they can add 100 years for gang enhancement. He needs to know the severity of it. And he needs to know the real n!99as that are in it didn’t have other options. Their whole livelihood is dependent on this gang shit, on being in the streets. Yours isn’t, so you need to explore some of your other options. And then I’d offer him my help in identifying some of those other options. As far as money, I want my daughter to be financially independent with or without me. She will be fluent with financial literacy, she’ll understand that the majority of these girls out here poppin’ they shit on the Gram or out here trying get pregnant by a baller are doing that because they don’t have their own money. You can build a cake out of crumbs. I’m making sure people know that, my kids included.

Gen Z has the highest kill rate, suicides, school shootings, drug overdoses, gang violence. Why are these kids killing themselves and each other? Drugs and the internet. You doing crazy shit, gangsta shit, or just a mischievous child or a defiant kid, drugs is going to amplify that activity. Your behavior is going to be even more wild. I once upon a time was a teenager. And I thought of doing crazy shit, not blowing up no building or shooting up a school. Nothing like that. But I thought, at times maybe, the world might be a better place without a n!66a present. It’s really all a tantrum. They are ranting and raving as a cry for help. And the internet normalizes everything. They can Google a murder and see a man get shot with real bullets, watch him choke on his own blood, see him bleed out and die. That desensitizes them to the shit, makes them numb. They’re walking around numb and then the drugs give them that high and that psychotic mindset to go and act out that movie playing in their heads.

Mozzy’s take on a Tupac Shakur video clip where ‘Pac states: “I don’t feel like that’s my job, to humble myself, to show you that I’m not a threat. I’m not a threat.” The god Pac didn’t feel it was his responsibility to keep reading people his resume, over and over, to prove he’s not the monster he is made out to be in the media. You are faced with a similar misunderstanding. Is he a gangsta? They kill people. Is he going to kill me? Is it your job to ease these people’s minds, time and time again, to ensure their comfort? Hell naw that ain’t my muthafuckan job! To explain who I am, why I think the way I do, why I express myself like this. That ain’t my job or my responsibility. My job is to continue to express positive energy and to keep sharing my life, the good and the bad. To keep motivating people to get up and go out and accomplish things and be successful even though the odds are stacked high against them. It’s not my job to make a person, who is scared or insecure due to their prejudice or their belief in what the media portrays me as, feel more safe in my presence. And that goes for anyone. Just because this girl is Gothic or this dude is Catholic or them people over there surf in the ocean but those other two next to them are afraid of the water – it’s not their responsibility to make sure people understand why they’re like that, and what happened in their lives that made them that way. To me, what indicates real power, it’s that uniqueness, that boldness, that rare self that you bring to the world. That’s your power. Never let anybody take your power away from you. Shit, be powerful and stay powerful.

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