A lot of the most popular hip-hop coming out of The Bay fits into the HBK school—neo-hyphy jams explicitly made for college. I sincerely love this sound, and it fits into a rich tradition of gleeful Bay slaps. But the other, perhaps longer history of Bay Area hip-hop is founded in death and isolation, and it’s in this void that Mozzy shines. This darker legacy is informed by the death of pioneers like Mac Dre and The Jacka. More fundamentally though, it’s about a sonic isolation that no major scene—New York, Houston, Atlanta, Memphis, or otherwise—can compare to in the internet age. Bay rap has been ignored for decades and the looting of its slang and style created its fierce independence from the national scene—as mac dre said, “record labels want me to sign / but i’m signed to Thizz and Thizz is mine.” Mozzy writes from an insular place, claiming to represent not the Bay, or even Sacramento, but specifically Oak Park. “Extra” is a washed out and crystalline cut from his latest release “Hexa Hella Extra Headshots 2.” Juneonnabeat handles production—he’s placed at the intersection of the dark and hyphy sounds with “Famous,” and the entirety of Mozzy’s most cohesive release, “Yellow Tape Activities,” one of my favorite albums from last year. Lil Blood starts the track with a gasping hook that blends in with enormous sub-bass 808s and a simple piano phrase. He sets the tone for the song and project: “Hit him in his head and I’ll give you a little extra.” Mozzy’s verse is in true form, ultra-precise and conversational, delivered with a permanent Elvis sneer. The parallels between his crew’s music and the Chicago drill scene are clear, pairing hazy synthesizer beats with blood-curdling lyrics, backed by present-tense violence. I hear his music every day when I’m back in San Francisco, from car windows, phone speakers on the bus, and boomboxes in parks. His documentary account of violence in the Bay Area is a key reminder that the optimism and prosperity of the tech boom is enjoyed by very few—for most, things have stayed the same or gotten worse. Mozzy may not claim the bay, but he is one of its most essential voices.
Listen here. Image from here.