One Joint With Mozzy
Hailing from the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, the rapper Timothy Patterson, better known as Mozzy since 2012, is a street rapper, and a talented writer whose verses dig at the core of being from a place like Oak Park. The narrative he weaves describe the very real violence of gang life, but the violence described in Mozzy’s raps aren’t a glorification—this is reality, where success is a necessity, and he’s taking a heartrending look at the systemic injustice in Sacramento, and its consequences. We spoke in early October in New York (his conversational cadence is just as lyrical as his work) just as his latest album was to be released. Ganglang Landlord is out now.
Alyssa Shapiro: Do you remember the first time you ever got high?
Mozzy: The first time I smoked some dope, I stole one of my auntie’s doobies, stole one of the doobies from the ashtray, went to the backyard with Little Brett, E. Mozzy, my little cousin Jaz and fired up. Prior to this I used to smoke grass, we’d roll grass up in newspaper, fire that up. Be running around just smoking straight paper to the neck, you hear me? When I hit it, I was loaded, I couldn’t believe it, I was out of my mind, like a whole ‘nother height, right. I think I was probably like 12, 11. And they was probably like 6 or 7 you feel me? I let them hit it. I let Little Brett hit it. Little Bret smoked like he knew what he was doing. When I let my little cousin Jaz hit it, she a female, she wouldn’t stop coughing. Damn I thought she was about to die, I was panicking. I’m loaded, I’m panicking, I’m trying to get her to stop coughing. Nigga damn ready did CPR, ya hear me? But that was the first time I got high. Dope experience, hell yeah.
AS: What’s your relationship to weed now?
Mozzy: Shit, I ain’t gonna lie. Me and weed got a better relationship than me and my bitch. You feel me? We really hold each other down, for real. Even in jail, I fucked with Mary Jane. I can’t breathe without it, I need it, I need it. I need it just to properly function. I feel weird without it. I feel less creative.
AS: I wonder if you’ve felt a cultural shift in California since legalization—has that changed the experience around weed for you at all?
Mozzy: Yeah, my first case was a dope case, went to jail for selling to an undercover and evading a police officer. But I just feel like if weed was legal back then, I wouldn’t have had to go through them extremes, you feel me? I wouldn’t have been on probation for ten years. It would have prevented a lot of negative shit from occurring if weed was legal. I think a lot of people are still, to this day, behind bars for marijuana. It’s just crazy how laws can change over the years, you see at one point this shit illegal, you can’t do it, and then next thing you know, they regulate it and it’s recreational. It’s crazy to live during these times and experience all this shit.
AS: Yeah it’s really crazy, and that’s an interesting point, how there’s a sort of snowball effect. If you hadn’t had that charge then—would not being on probation have meant you wouldn’t have issues with violating probation, and so on.
Mozzy: Could have been a whole other path. I could have been you. It fucked up my life, man. What makes the biggest difference for me is I felt like my crime at the time wasn’t that big—but I also felt it was big enough to run. I sold to an undercover, and even thought it was just weed, they was tripping on weed at the time. It was a big risk, which made me jump all in and take more risks.
AS: What about a cultural shift since the election, have you felt some of the negative changes the country has experienced, or do you feel a bit sheltered from that in California?
Mozzy: Nah, I just look at America differently. My peers look at America differently. We view America differently. Anybody can do anything now. What we have as president, currently, it lets you know anybody can do anything. It’s motivational in a sense, but it’s bullshit. You don’t want these types of people representing us, a whole nation of people
AS: Your grandmother raised you, right? And she was a member of the Black Panther party? What did growing up in that type of environment do for your own sense of social justice? It obviously comes through in your music. Do you also feel more equipped to be involved because of how you were raised?
Mozzy: She was involved in it, yeah. Naturally. I used to rap about gospel. I’ve always had a compassion for the people. My grandmother had a lot to do with everything as far as I’m concerned: the way I present myself, the way I talk, the way I handle my business. I was with her since I was two, so I picked up a lot of her traits, a lot of her habits. Naturally and unconsciously, you feel me? She’s one of my biggest inspirations. She got a lot of Black artifacts and posters around the house. You wake up everyday looking at the Martin Luther Kings, the Marcus Garveys, you see Harriet Tubman on this wall over here. She has a toy police car we used to beat with a hammer every time we walk in the house.
Mozzy: It was therapeutic for her. Police killed her son I think in ’85. Shot him in the back. My whole household is damn near just on a revolutionary hype.
AS: What was the best piece of advice she ever gave you?
Mozzy: Work. Four letter word. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. That was her main thing, she didn’t give a fuck about nothing else. Work. Work. Work.
AS: Did your experience of family growing up affect how you choose to raise your daughters?
Mozzy: For sure. 100%. 110%. My parenting, I’m strict, a little more lenient than her of course, I feel like I’ve got a little more chicken to offer. I mean I’m young, I ran up a bag as a young man. I’m not too old fashioned. So you know, we’re going to have our fun, versus Granny, she’s old fashioned. It don’t matter how much she get, we going to the Goodwill. Versus me, new age parenting, more like—
AS: Let’s go to Gucci.
Mozzy: Yeah let’s go to Gucci. Let’s go to Disneyland like this shit is Chuck E. Cheese. Let’s go five times a year instead of once every three. Other than that, everything else is dead on point as far as the way Granny raised me. I apply the same rules, the same regulations. The same way she taught me—rule with an iron fist and a velvet glove.
AS: What moment solidified for you that you’d pursue music full time?
Mozzy: When the check landed. I ain’t gonna lie. I been on music day one out the gates. I been pursuing this, I been pushing. When I first got a check off it, it changed my life. I got out of jail in 2015, went to Kansas City, they gave me $1,500 to perform and $10,000 for a collaboration. Other people gave me verse money, it was coming in, it was going yay yay. But when I left, I got on the plane with at least $12,000-$15,000, literally. I took a chance of being caught violating probation by leaving my jurisdiction. But I said, I’m going to take a chance for $10,000. It was looking lovely for me. That’s when I knew it was on. Ain’t no falling off from here. And we’re three years straight damn near going on four—velvet.
AS: Can you tell me about your favorite verse from the new album [Gangland Landlord]?
Mozzy: “Black Hearted” is my favorite verse, it go crazy. I went crazy on there, very soulful. My favorite bar is,
Can't even place a call to Zall, it feel different
He would've been on all the tours, that's my real nigga
I can’t even place a call to my bruh. Before I popped I was fucking with this n—, right before I popped, he got popped. And he died. It’s just crazy, I can’t even pick up the phone and call him. He would have been on all the tours, it’s my real n—. He would have been right here. That’s one of the most significant bars on the album to me. Touching, soothing, spiritual. Every time I hear it, it just do something to me.
AS: How long ago was he killed? I’m so sorry.
Mozzy: 2013. Yeah, but you know, you deal with so many deaths, it just gets a little easier to deal with. It’s crazy because the pain don’t go away. You just become immune: so many people die, you just stop going to funerals. But when it’s so close? If it’s a close one, that affects you differently. But when it’s just a n—in the hood, it’s a little easier to deal with. We used to it. We expect it. I used to holler at my bruh like, “What we going to be doing at 30, bro, we going to be gang banging at 30?” He told me, “I don’t plan on seeing 30.”
AS: Do you think or hope that legalization will have some cycle effect where it’ll bring down the number of deaths in the long run? Help solve that? I mean is it gang violence mostly, or police brutality?
Mozzy: Nah, it’s gang violence. We don’t shed the light on gang violence. We wait for somebody else, for police to brutalize somebody, and then we get to marching and shit. We don’t march when it deals with our own, we don’t preach, we don’t do shit when it come to black on black crime, as a people. I’m just talking about within my communities. I ain’t talking about in the world. Stephon Clark, there was a real million man march out there, a real I had a dream march, you feel me? It was big, it was crazy. But why we gotta come together just on that? People need to be coming together on… not that we shouldn’t come together on that, but I’m just saying, on every death, we should march for every death like that, you feel me? Once we start doing that, once every death matter like Trayvon Martin death mattered, then you’ll see it change, you’ll see some difference. But until then, it’s nobody but us, can’t nobody stop this shit but us.
AS: Then what are your thoughts on what Kanye West is doing right now, isn’t that just additional damage?
Mozzy: Shoutout Kanye, that’s my boy. I don’t even be paying attention, that n— so crazy, I ain’t even tapped into it, I just seen the video “I’m a sick fuck, I like a quick fuck.”
AS: But he wears a MAGA hat, he said something about abolishing the 13th amendment—
Mozzy: Nah, you can’t get offended by people who’re trolling.
AS: You think it’s trolling?
Mozzy: He just did an interview and said can’t nobody troll better than him. He the dopest troller in America. 6ix9ine ain’t got shit on him. He just doing what he do.
AS: Do you think it’s damaging to anyone who might think he’s being sincere? That this is what Kanye believes so it’s what they’ll believe and support..?
Mozzy: Kanye ain’t no politician. It shouldn’t matter what Kanye West says. He’ll probably run for president, and anything’s possible, as you see, our president now… The way I feel about it, I just stay within my envelope, I really don’t be tangled up too much with what the next man got going on. I’m chasing my bag. That shit go over my head. I fuck with Ye, you feel me, every since he did [sings “All Falls Down.”] That’s my shit. It’s like having an uncle, he’s your favorite uncle, then that n— turn into a drunk, or he start doing drugs and he starts saying wild shit, but you still love him to death. You just don’t pay him no mind. Still love him—you ain’t like, fuck my uncle, my uncle’s a weirdo. You don’t bash him. Just don’t pay him no mind. He’s going through some shit right now, but he’s my people. It’s my job to protect him. I fuck with Ye.
AS: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Mozzy: No felonies. Probably a college degree. I should have did my own thing. I was intrigued by the streets and I was participating in the same shit that my peers was when I should have just leveled up and went that way. I’d probably be juggling some real money right now. I’d be at a higher state if I woulda went that way. And I ain’t talking about being no nerd or nothing, I ain’t talking about not living in Oak Park, or not being from the hood. I’m just saying, being in the hood, being from the hood but still accomplishing something crazy outside of rap.
AS: You’re putting on Provide For Your People at Fourth Avenue Park in Sacramento [Saturday, October 6] to give back to your hometown community—what first inspired you to do this?
Mozzy: I remember the people who used to give me dollars at the ice cream truck, I remember the people helping me with getting my grill out of the jewelry shop, I remember people who used to pick me up from school and let me ride around in their fancy car with them, and vibe with me, I just felt like that’s what I lacked. I didn’t have no big bro. I had no real mentor, all the men in my family was in jail. The people who did that in the community, it really solidified the love, the love that I felt. It was genuine, it was sincere, it was for real. I just try to reciprocate that love. I try to inspire them. That’s why this is important, because I used to be one of them. I used to be a less fortunate, I used to be stranded in the hood thinking that the hood was the world. Now, traveling, seeing shit, it’s just crazy. I just want them to have the same opportunity, I want them to travel, I want them to be able to find beauty within their own struggle. Anything I can do to assist them with that, with finding beauty in their struggle, I’m going to do it. If I’m in a position of power, I’m going to do it, that’s my job — I’m obligated.