It is amazing to see a star birthed right in front of your eyes.
That is exactly what happened when Mozzy stepped on the stage at New York’s Gramercy Theatre. Charmingly gleeful and charismatic, despite presenting himself as a street guy his heart chakra was all the way open (receiving and giving in every room he entered). To look at him you can tell that he is stylish and undeniably hood, but there is something more. More than the designer close and the gang talk. This young emcee has a history recognizably stitched into one of the most incredibly interesting tapestry one ever wants to read.
This Gang banging- child of the revolution reminds you of ‘Pac.
Not the ‘Pac of Hip-Hop mythology… but the one that dominated the rap charts and our collective hearts from 1991-1995.
That Tupac… walked in the room dripping with alpha male confidence, balancing that thin line that allowed his swag never to feel like arrogance. This confidence was invitational. It was environmentally transferable- like no matter where he went (city, hood, boardroom) or who he was talking to (banger, politician, churchman), he was able to rock without compromise, and exist in his own Pacian skin. #nochameleonbusiness
It can also be said that Mozzy has that same thing.
Perhaps it is a part of what the Sacramento emcee refers to as “Goon body embodiment.” It is a super power…
It’s not just in his person, as evidenced by his entourage’s high regard for their boss/friend, but also in his music. His music is in his own words “relatable gangsters” and “therapeutic for the poor.” Real Pac-ish right? Here is another link. Mozzy grew up with one foot in the street and the other in the revolution— movement adjacent. His Grandmother, Brenda Patterson-Usher, was a Black Panther. She was serious about the work of and for Black people. She was even more intentional about passing down “good game” to the generation after her… her grandson, Timothy Patterson (Mozzy’s real name).
While like most rappers of his generation count Nipsey as one of the greatest influences on how he envisions his empire, he attributes her game to be the most foundational. It was this woman, who unfortunately recently transitioned, that gave him structure and a strong work ethic. “Her favorite word was consistency” Mozzy says before his show in a room filled with his employees, a guest or two, management and his attorney. “She ran the house like boot camp.”
This rings a bell. Years ago, Spotify’s Head of Artists and Talent Relations (also the manager of famed Disturbing the Peace artist Ludacris) Chaka Zulu said that when he and Tupac were growing up in the Black Panther families, they too grew up as if they were in boot camp. It is that kind of discipline that graphs kings and seemingly fortifies them for the industry. Patterson-Usher did this for young Tim, while giving him enough space to experience other realities.
For him, gang life was that other reality.
Mozzy is a member of the The Oak Park Bloods (OPB). Founded in the early 80s, they are one of the oldest Blood gangs in Sacramento. There are three sets: Fourth Ave Bloods, 33rd Street, 12th Ave Bloods. Mozzy is a member of Fourth Ave Bloods (FAB) which is according to Unitedgangs.com, the largest and original subset of OPB, founded on Pebble Beach. To think that because this gang is not from Los Angeles they are not a powerful force in the street, would be foolish. But Mozzy’s grandma was no fool… which was probably one of his saving graces.
She without fully knowing all of her grandbaby’s street connection, she provided something that neither his mother (a crack addict) or his father (who was incarcerated) could… Reprise from the street.
“My grandmother provided a sanctuary… and that allowed me to live two lives” Mozzy reveals. “She believed in hard work and wanted to pass that down. She would always have us cleaning, she would sit me down to write my dad who was in the pen.” According to the Empire artist, she always had them reading important books like the Autobiography of Malcolm X or watching documentaries to sharpen his mind. As a kid, he did not appreciate what the freedom fighter Patterson-Usher was doing. She would wake him up at 3:00am in the morning to cut about four lawns before school, and mandated that he learned what real respect looked like. Now he knows how to identify it while dealing with the sharks in the industry and when acknowledging those who warrant it because of their work ethics.
It is this same “discipline” that he applies to his music, expects from those around him and wants to pass on to his two little girls, Ariana, 6, and Zayda, 2. It is the two of them that fuels him each day. It fuels the long hours in the studio. It fuels the long distance drives on the bus/ sprinter to perform in all kinds of places to crowds as little as half of a baker’s dozen to jammed packed theaters like the one he is performing at tonight. This kind of grind is important to Mozzy as he sets up a future for his daughters and stands on the legacy of his grandmother.
But he also goes so hard because he loves it. You can see it in his eyes that he is living his dream. He loves all of this. The crafting of the songs (Editor’s Note: this is a personality piece, but homie got bars), the roar of the crowd, the hustle and bustle is all the way good with him.
“I would do this, even if I wasn’t getting a check to rap.” He offers with that flicker of joy in his eyes, “It feels like robbery (getting paid to something that I love… not work).” But since he is getting paid… he wants to make sure that his raison d’être matches the ethics taught to him in Patterson-Usher’s home and from the OGs who mentored him back on 4th Ave.
The purpose is higher than self.
This is a slippery slope that Mozzy is on. One that Pac also skated on. On one hand this emerging artist is a voice for the voiceless, creating lyrics that articulate the daily joys and pains of hood life. On the other, he is the bread winner, employer and mentors to others affording them space to have their own voice. In both cases, if he is not careful, a man with such a big heart chakra could be exploited. He doesn’t seem bothered, which suggest (prayerfully) that he has it all under control.
“I probably do have too many people on my staff.” He confessed, “If you can do something that I need… I will hire you.” He met his driver and his body guard off the internet. He posted a need and they responded. Years later they are still on the team. He also allows hot up and coming acts to open for him, artists that he has found on the internet that have either hit him up directly or he has sought out himself.
Take popular battle rapper Tsu Surf. After hearing Tsu Surf rip a freestyle online, he was compelled to reach out to him. “I don’t mind reaching out to people that are talented… or might even rap better than me.” He offered, “I reached out to him and we clicked. He vibed like I vibed. He was passionate and said that my music helped get him through his bid. That’s what I do. I reach out to dope people. Embracing people who are doing dope things and I have no problem throwing them the alley-oop.” From this outreach, the two grew mutually and developed a rapport. The two were supposed to release a mixtape this summer, but Surf unfortunately got locked up. The tentative name for the tape was going to be called Blood Cousin, saluting both rappers’ gang affiliation.
“I was so disappointed with this whole thing (him getting locked up). The f*cked up thing about it is that we have so much work to do for this project. We have press. We have videos. Radio.” Reflecting on his friend was the first time he energy shifted from happy and thoughtful, to sad. “It is devastating.” #FreeTheWave
Mozzy says that he talked to Surf before this happened about their plans and the pitfalls of the streets- there goes that Patterson-Usher discipline again. And wishes his friend the best.
This was the ‘Pacian way. Ask The Outsiders. Ask Naughty By Nature. Ask anyone who had the pleasure of breaking bread with Shakur and see if they don’t share with you a reflection about a man with his own demons, but generous enough to share the space. When you ask Mozzy’s people to describe him in one word, these are the words that came up from a room full of folk: Militant, ambitious, genius, hardcore, slimey, real, honest and consistent. After hearing his story, juxtaposing with what we know about Pac are you shocked?
So, we finally ask him who are his influences? We know Nipsey (put him up on real estate)… and it was certainly no surprise when Tupac was named as one of his Hip-Hop influences. But it did not stop there. Yonkers’ legend DMX is one of his influences. But it should be no surprise that he is influenced by some of those style defining and money making Bay Area emcees. Names like Messy Marv, he points to for inspiration, and E40.
“E40 taught me good game, like how to create your own language and that independent movement.”
He also pointed to the big dog, Too Short, as an influence. In 2018, he and Short Dog released a track called “Excuse Me.” It also featured DCMBR and Yhung T.O.
The room is in awe… and moments later… we will see the entire theater captivated by his high energy show and rhyme-for-rhyme top tier lyricism. He has been doing this for about 10 years… and while many are just taking note… those who have been in the know… do know…
It makes sense… stars exist before you actually see them shine. And Brenda Patterson-Usher’s grandbaby, Timothy… is shining… boy is he shining.