By Josh Weiner
“Everything that I try to do, I try to make it fire,” Cousin Stizz has confided. “Everything. The raps. The swag. The clothes. Everything gotta be fire.”
At any rate, Stizz has certainly been pushing out music at a fiery pace ever since entering the game 5 years ago. Born Stephen Goss in 1992, he grew up in Boston, and attended Reading Memorial High School out in the suburbs. Gross took advantage of his hometown’s musical resources, aligning with other Boston MC’s in the group Pilot Nation and scoring some early headlining acts at venues such as the Middle East Club in Cambridge.
“It’s just got to be a subconscious thing,” he says about his gradual rise to stardom. “When you try too hard at anything, it just never works out. You’ve just got to let it be natural.”
Such an approach certainly proved to be profitable, as Stizz managed to complete his first record at age 23. Suffolk County, named for his lieu de résidence, was anchored by standouts such as “No Bells,” which featured an infectious chorus and put-em-in-they-place vibe (“Who you know from out here? Your name ain’t ringin’ no names, boy!”)
Critics noted that the production and storytelling on the record were properly balanced: “the sound is gritty enough to match Stizz’s tales of moving work, but pretty enough to function as the melodic yin to his no-nonsense yang.” The Boston Globe saluted his “laid-back melodic flow, taste for hypnotic beats, and natural flair for crafting a hook.”
Along with the local press, Suffolk County also caught on with other rappers– Drake was seen rocking out to “Shoutout” at his birthday party— and, perhaps most critically, some A&Rs. Before long, Sitzz would score his first major-label contract with RCA Records, and his career has been cruising in the fast lane ever since.
His latest projects include his 2016 mixtape Honda, and his 2017 debut LP One Night Only. The latter was propelled by several high-profile guest appearances, including Offset of Migos, who joined Sitzz in chanting “I put the drink in a headlock” on the album’s most successful single. Appearing alongside Gucci Mane in a commercial for Footaction hasn’t done much to dim the limelight on Cousin Stizz, either.
Yet throughout his steady ascent in the rap game, Stizz has remained visibly appreciative of his friends and followers and want to be sure to return the favor.
“I want to make sure that the kid under me has a real shot, even if I don’t get it,” Stizz said in an interview with Billboard. “That’s what it is for me when I go back home. It’s love. It’s real love. I’m trying to give back because those people are the reasons why I am where I’m at right now.”
“Empowerment through alignment is his most vital thing,” critics have written, applauding the genuine support which Stizz offers his fans in and out of the studio. “It’s the core component of his creative existence, and the crux of why his music is so inspiring.”