How a Chance Encounter Landed Kendrick Lamar a Cameo on Cozz’s ‘Effected’ Album
In the new mini doc Cozz: Effected, Dreamville rapper Cozz documents his upbringing, musical come up and the making of his new sophomore album, Effected. In it, the Los Angeles native shares his experience combatting writer's block. Per J. Cole's advice, he'd perform writing exercises to loosen up and put his thoughts into words.
"That process helped me so fucking much," Cozz tells XXL. "I overthink everything—I'm very indecisive. Cole was like, 'Stop thinking, bro. Write it down. Just get it out.'... It's a warmup, so you feel more comfortable writing whatever and it be fire." It's just one example of Cozz's development since his debut album, 2014's Cozz & Effect. The man born Cody Osagie says he had a chance to live and mature in the past four years, affording him a self-awareness and artistic freedom that he puts on display on his new album. And while he's confident in his musical and lyrical abilities, he knows there's still room for improvement. "I feel like I get better every week," he says. "I definitely ain't reach my pinnacle."
Cozz sat down XXL to speak about hostile confrontations with police, linking up with Kendrick Lamar for "Hustla's Story" and why he feels like a savior of hip-hop lyricism.
XXL: What's changed for you since the last time you spoke with XXL?
Cozz: A lot, man. I've been through life. I was 20 at that time and I didn't know anything about the game and how shit works. It's kind of like having a new job—you're just figuring it out. For these past years I've been seeing how people work and seeing how shit works. Not only that, I’m more mature. I've been growing as a person. I was a kid then—and I'm still a kid, I'm mad young—but I feel more aware of everything. I've grown as an artist. I'll try different... I'm just so confident in my shit. I feel like this project it shows.
Do you address these life experiences on Effected?
For sure. Indirectly though. The album is like a story. If you pay attention, you'll hear the skits and the lyrics and be like, “OK, he's talking about progress.” If I had another name for it, I'd call it Growing Pains, because every song is like, “He's realizing something more and more. He went through that and boom next song he's talking about how he grew.”
On “Freaky 45,” you have the realization that you’re into older women.
Yeah! Exactly. I talk about women problems. Because to keep it G with you bro, I haven't dated a lot of women. I've had flings with women, but I've only seriously dated two women in my life. So now that I've been through that between these last five years, I see shit differently. So I talk about that. I talk about betrayal with homies. I've been through weird motherfuckers I thought were friends that really ain't. Which I've been through my whole life as well, but as an adult it's my first time going through it. I've been through a lot of life in the last four years.
Why did you choose to call the album Effected instead of Growing Pains?
Effected is like a double back on Cozz & Effect—kind of like a part two because I feel like I’m in the same zone creatively. On Cozz & Effect, I had “Dreams” as the intro, like, “This is my dream. I fuck with rap.” Now I have “Questions” as the intro. I’ve been in it a little bit, and I've got questions now. I had “Knock the Hustle” on Cozz & Effect and I have “Hustla's Story” on Effected. So it's a lot of part twos, subconsciously. I felt like it was right. If you notice in the “Dreams” video, I had an EFFECTED shirt on a couple of years ago.
How did you and Kendrick Lamar connect for “Hustla’s Story”?
So Interscope has a main studio—everyone works out of there. I'm in the studio working and I wanted to buy some food. I’m in my pockets, digging for my wallet and I’m like “Yo, I probably left it in my car.” I go outside to my car and I'm like, “Ah, I’m a fucking idiot, it was in my pocket the whole time.” While I'm walking back, Kendrick pulls up. It was some god shit, it just happened on some energy shit. Everything’s tinted so I didn’t know who it was. He gets out like, “What’s good, Cozz?” I’d met him before. “I'm like, ‘I'm chillin' bro, working on my album. If you want to hear some shit, come through.” He’s like, “Yeah, for sure” and I’m thinking, “Whatever, he’s not coming.”
Like an hour later, he pulls up and comes in the room. He wants to hear some shit and I had one joint in mind. I knew he would fuck with this shit—it's so him. I'm a Kendrick fan. So I played the joint and he's like, “Yo, lemme get on that.” I played more joints after but he wanted to get on that first one. I'm like, “Fuck yeah, nigga, hurry up before you change your mind.” He finishes in like an hour. It was fucking amazing. Mad genuine and organic. I didn’t ask him; he hopped on it. He's mad cool, super humble. It was dope to witness that and see how he works.
Did you pick up anything from his creative process?
Nah. But when I watched him work, I saw that he knows exactly what he does. He did what he did—he did the Kendrick shit. He gets it. When you first start being an artist, you’re trying to figure out who the fuck you are and what is your thing. I feel like I just got there. I know exactly who I am and what I'm doing on a record. So I didn't learn nothing, because I kinda figured that out myself. But it was cool to see him work that fast and not overthink shit.
Why is “Badu” named for Erykah Badu?
Vibe-purposes. When I made the song, I was like, “This feels like Erykah Badu.” [Laughs] It has nothing to do with her, but that vibe felt like an Erykah Badu. And I love Erykah Badu, she's dope as fuck.
How did Curren$y get on that song?
Curren$y reached out a couple of years ago. He DM’d me like, “Yo, we have to cook up.” I was like, “Hell yeah.” I'm a big Curren$y fan. But we didn't cook up for a long time. And then when I made that record, [Dreamville President Ibrahim 'Ib' Hamad] heard the record and he's like, “Yo, Curren$y would sound fire on that.” He hit him up. [Curren$y] sent that shit back in a couple of hours. He laid that shit so quick.
The music video for “Questions” flips the police brutality narrative. How did that concept come about?
Somebody else actually had a different concept for that video. Cole called me, like, “You need to be an artist in all aspects and think about what you wanna do as far as videos and everything. Make it your own and you'll feel better about it. [Dreamville Senior Creative Felton Brown] was talking to Cole about the video, too. Cole called me with one idea he had in mind, and we both started brainstorming and came up with the whole shit. Everything besides the first scene was pretty much me—the taser and all that shit. And it turned out amazing.
Have you had any crazy incidents with the police?
Fuck yeah. Plently. One time I was driving to the studio and I had two of my boys with me. I had this beat-ass two-door 1993 Ford Explorer. And I made this quick turn into a lane because I was about to miss my turn. If a cop pulled you over, he'd probably ask you some questions, right? The cops pulled me over immediately, came out guns drawn pointed at us, not asking shit. Just because we made a crazy turn. Hands up! So I'm like, Oh my god, what the fuck? They opened the door, pulled us out, handcuffed us and put us in the back. No questions, no nothing. They had nothing to say. We was talking shit the whole time in the backseat, like, “Fuck y’all.” Because everything was right—registration, license. It was just a beat car and a black man. They tried to give us some bullshit ticket after, but literally they could've shot us if we made the wrong move. All for a fucking turn. And there's so many more than that, I could go on forever. But that's one that really fucks with me to this day.
As crazy as that sounds, it’s not surprising.
We gotta brush it off, which is the sad part. We're so used to it, it's not even a problem no more. It's just like, “Eh, it happens.”
There's a line in “Questions” where you say, “It’s an emergency, rap need a savior/And I think that I can save it.” What do you think about where rap is right now?
I'm not mad at where rap is at. I fuck with the mainstream shit, I actually really like it. But at the same time, as far as the traditional shit goes, we don't get enough shine. It's hard work to do that, to be a lyricist and make the songs that make people feel some type of way. It takes a lot of fucking work. And I can do the shit. The shit that’s mainstream, I can do that shit all day, everyday. Not even downplaying that shit [and] maybe not as good as them, honestly. But music evolves and my time will come. I’m gonna just keep taking my steps and I'm not gonna switch up and be like, “Yo, I'ma do this now because it's poppin.” I'ma do me and we'll see what happens. The traditional wordplay rap shit, we need to keep that shit alive. There's not too many people my age doing that shit. So as far as that goes, I can be the savior for that.
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