I fell in love with Cousin Stizz’s music the first time I heard it, several years ago, with his truly astounding mixtape Suffolk County. So I wanted to make sure I gave this album a good listen: A lot of rappers start strong and run out of things to say pretty quick. Especially when they have a meteoric rise and then come out with a second album full of popular features. And that’s what Stizz has done, bringing pop rappers like City Girls and indie-leaning guys like Freddie Gibbs and Smino on to his latest album.
So, does it work?
Well, let’s acknowledge that this is Cousin Stizz’s most accessible, most “pop” album to date. And I’ll say that, for me, songs like Perfect (featuring City Girls) and Jump Out The Phone (with Leven Kali) don’t work well. Stizz has a unique voice and a grimey delivery that just can’t skew top 40 for me. That said, there’s lots of truth here. “Let’s get rich, I suppose, you gonna ride I’m gonna roll,” he sings on Rr, and that’s the nub of what’s going on here. There’s lots of hard songs here, full of pain and exactly what you’d expect and hope for from Stizz: Meds, STP, and The Message. And there’s bangers that fit his style perfect, particularly the one with Freddie Gibbs, “Toast 2 That.” Gibbs is having a quite a year—his “Bandana” album might be the best of the year. And he’s generous here, giving some good bars to Stizz. I mean, here’s just a bit of it: “Vitamins good my geekers, my niggaz/The blow Trader Joe got that organic dope/And a hundred packs stuffed in the freezer, my niggaz/We dump it and drop it out/Busting packets like Pitbull, we popping off/I can’t talk on my phone, because I’m talking raw/Feel like Steven Seagal, I’m a blood and all, fuck the law…” I mean, holy Christ. How does he do that.
And of course Stizz himself is no slouch. He does the “I’m famous feel sorry for me” song incredibly well. Every rapper who makes it big has to have at least one of these on his sophmore album. (And Eminem never stopped making them.) Cousin Stizz does it on Two Face: “Feel like I live on the stage/Sift through figures, it’s strange/Feeling a shift when I fade/I knew that I couldn’t do minimum wage/’Til the watch two-faced Nicolas Cage…” I mean arguably the entire album is about making hits, with the title paying tribute to Jay-Z’s song, “On to the Next One,” a song on which Hova paid tribute to…Himself.
So, after all that, does Cousin Stizz’s second proper album work?
Yeah, it does. I found myself hitting skip on just a few of the tracks, and getting lost in the rest of it.