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Regional rap conversations seldom mention Sacramento. Apart from C-Bo and horrorcore forefather Brotha Lynch Hung, few can name one rapper from California’s capital. Mozzy (Timothy Patterson) is rapidly redirecting the discussion. His hardened gangster narratives eschew the exaggerated violence of horrorcore, favoring the kind of terrifying front line reportage verified by police reports and far too many headstones.
Hailing from Oak Park, one of the city’s most dangerous and disenfranchised neighborhoods, Mozzy is a voice for and an inspiration to friends, family, and fellow citizens. His inventive slang, vivid diction, and visceral emotion have made the 28-year-old a local star, and his music videos have racked up millions of YouTube views without outside help. His recent works have been heralded by distinguished publications like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, which placed 2015's Bladadah on its “40 Best Rap Albums of 2015” list. While Mozzy, Sacramento, and Oak Park are already synonymous, they will soon be ubiquitous.
Like most Oak Park denizens, the odds were stacked against Mozzy from birth. Born to a felon father and dope-addicted mother, his grandmother and several aunts raised him. The former instilled his unwavering work ethic while the latter inspired his interest in rap.
“My aunts used to listen to the music videos on BET. I recorded them and played them over and over,” Mozzy says. “Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Death Row, and No Limit--they were my influences.”
Writing rhymes and rapping since the age of six, Mozzy performed at talent shows in his pre-teens and was featured on locally renowned rap albums. Unfortunately, gang life also colored his youth. Friends were lost to decade-long wars and Mozzy was consumed by the crossfire.
“I was forced into it. It wasn’t a part of my playbook,” he explains, citing several family members who were affiliated with gangs. “It just naturally happened.”
For years, Mozzy engaged in gang activity and sold narcotics concurrently. Still, writing and recording music was paramount, both a constant source of catharsis and a road to redemption. When he went to jail in 2014, he used his phone calls to orchestrate the release of already recorded albums and videos. In 2015, he released four independent albums (Gangland Landscape, Bladadah, Yellow Tape Activities, Down the Wire: 4th Ave Edition) and several collaborative projects. “I live in the studio,” he says. “I’m putting one in my house so I can literally live in it.”
While his early material was riddled with emptied clips and closed caskets, recent albums, like 2016’s Beautiful Struggle, display marked growth. The horrifying has become sobering, and the aggression has been supplanted by somber reflection. A proud and protective father who spent months fighting for the custody of his three-year-old daughter, Mozzy articulates personal and societal tragedies as much as he hopes to prevent them.
“Once upon a time, I didn’t talk about nothing but murder, selling drugs, and crazy s***,” he explains. “If you listen to my music now, it’s about the consequences of this s***.”
Now splitting time between L.A. and Sacramento, Mozzy is awaiting the release of his next album, Mandatory Check. In addition to features from Rich Homie Quan, IamSu, and the late Bay legend Jacka, the project showcases the talent of Mozzy’s closest compatriots (e.g. E Mozzy, Kunta) and his longtime go-to producer, June on the Beat. Still, the story belongs to Mozzy. Tales of retribution temper requiems for fallen friends. The pain of the past illuminates the profundity of newfound success. Throughout, he utilizes his singular Oak Park slang (e.g. yeeky, bladadah, blamatory), artful wordplay, and inimitable conversational flow. There are no radio friendly singles on the album, but Mozzy isn’t concerned. He only cares about his fans, the people who are still dealing with the hardships that rap has helped him escape.