THE RISE OF MOZZY: MOZZY IZ THE MOTIVE, PART 1
By Mike Enemigo
Mozzy is one of the hottest rappers in the game right now, and though small in physical stature, his presence is large. His swagger and mannerisms are undeniably northern California — Sacramento, specifically. His large, thick, freeform dreads shake in sync with the rhythm of his speech; speech he peppers with his own slang. Heraps over hard-hitting beats, perfect for listening to while in a car, slithering through city streets. His honesty, embracement of struggle and pain, and ability to paint vivid pictures with words while capturing authentic emotion has earned him comparison to his rap idol: Tupac Shakur. “It’s a hell of a feeling. It’s platinum,” he says of being compared to Pac. “I studied dude, I listened to dude, I functioned with dude heavy,so for it to ooze out me and for people to create a comparison off of that, it’s crazy…. That’s who I looked up to. I ain’t wanna be like Mike, I wanted to be like Pac.”
Getting to this point, however, has not been easy. It’s the result of a whole t of blood, sweat, and tears.
Mozzy was born Timothy Patterson on June 24, 1987. At age 2, he moved in with his grandmother, Branda Patterson, because his father was in prison for robbery and drug possession and his mother was addicted to crack cocaine. “Nigga really loved his mom, so growing up, that shit was hard to endure,” Mozzy explains. “It was hard to watch her go through, hard to watch her struggle and fight that addiction.”
Ms. Branda, a former Black Panther, instilled a strict work ethic in Mozzy at an early age, and had him read books about Malcolm X, Fredrick Douglas and Marcus Garvey. But he also listened to rappers like 2 Pac, DMX, The Jacka and Messy Marv.
Mozzy’s grandmother raised him on 4th Ave. in the historically black neighborhood of Oak Park, in Sacramento, California. Oak Park is saturated with crime and gang violence and ran by Blood sets like 4th Ave., 33rd, RideZilla and Underworld Zilla. “Oak Parkis not a neighborhood you want to go to, even in the daytime, unless you grew up there, or have been accepted by those who did,” says Willie Belardo, an incarcerated Oak Park gang member who’s written several books under the name King Guru. Among King Guru’s books isUnderworld Zilla, a book loosely based on his life.
From an early age, Mozzy was surrounded by gang culture. Being a gang member was considered normal. “I was 4, throwing up 4th Ave. I ain’t even know what the fuck I was doing,” he remembers. “I was doing that shit because of my cousins, my big brothers, my uncles, my aunties. I was familiar with [gang life] growing up, but a nigga just wanted to be apimp. Nigga didn’t have no dreams of being a gang member. Nigga family full of pimps and players. But it was just like, ‘Ain’t no hangin’ if you ain’t bangin’.’ I just became affiliated naturally, and that shit just took off from there.”
At the age of 12, Mozzy’s grandmother took him to a talent show where he saw some young gospel rappers perform. This inspired him to pick up the pen and start writing raps. “I seen some twins, they performed, and just — the crown reaction, the love, the embrace that they got from the elders — it was just dope, I felt it,” he says. “I wanted that same power. I wanted that same influence. I went home and wrote a rap and never stopped writing since then.” He started rapping gospel raps of his own under the name “Lil Tim.”
Mozzy attended local high schools like Kit Carson and Sacramento High. He eventually dropped out, though he did later double back and get his GED. He got a job delivering newspapersand began working at Togo’s, a sandwich shop, all while continuing to rap. However, despite his grandmother’s attempts to keep him on a positive path, gang life kept calling, and at about 16, his music began reflecting the lifestyle he was living — smoking weed, selling drugs, and hanging around gang members.
At around the age of 17 or 18, he pressed up his first CD, under the name Lil Tim, which he passed around on the streets. He continued to hone his craft, and in 2011, partly inspired by the ASAP movement, he changed his rap name from Lil Tim to Mozzy, which means “Money,” and put out his first project on iTunes. He released other projects and began gaining some type of traction when, in 2013, he participated in a project with DJ Fresh —The Tonight Show with Mozzy. However, despite the local notoriety from the Tonight Show appearance, Mozzy was still broke, struggling, and living with his grandmother. He was desperate to get a real break in the rap game.
“I was struggling. I didn’t mind going to jail,” he says about that time. “It was like, let’s go. Rather go [to jail] than have people see me in the streets struggling. And itwas basically like…I’ma get a record deal, die or go to jail. I don’t give a fuck, but one of them muthafuckas gotta come right now,” he explains. According to Mozzy, he had noPlan B: “This is something I’ve been planning on doing since I was a child…. I used to ditch school to go to the studio. there was no backup plan for me, like it was all or nothing. It wasn’t like I could become an engineer or become a counselor; it was nothing else.”
More and more Mozzy’s music began to honestly detail the struggle he was going through, as well as real-life gang beefs going on in the streets. In April 2013 he released a song and video for “The Truth,” where he called out rival gang “Starz” and some of its members, like leader Lavish D and Stunna Blu. This caused immediate backlash. Appearing inthe video with Mozzy is fellow gang member Zilla Zoe. Within hours of the video’s release, Zilla Zoe was shot to death. “In the back of my mind, I felt guilty,” he says as he reflects on the death of his fallen friend. “He got a daughter, so if he did die because of this video, that means there’s blood on my hands. That means I got questions to answer. His family looking in my direction, they wanna know what happened. They wanna know whyI would do something like that. Why would I jeopardize my nigga life?”
The murder of Zilla Zoe was devastating for Mozzy, but the real-life beef brought attention to his music and increased his popularity. “I guess people fell in love with the dramaand extracurricular activities that came along with that,” he says. “So the people just started following that, and I can feel it. It was little by little, but I could feel it growing. So I already knew once I had everyone’s attention, it was gonna be a takeover because can’t nobody fuck with me.”
Despite the backlash for speaking on Lavish D in “The Truth,”on March 5, 2014 he released “I’m Just Bein Honest,” rapped over Future’s “Honest” beat, featuring Bay Area rapper Philthy Rich, which was, at the time, his biggest feature to date. This song also spoke on Lavish D, and like “The Truth” caused a major backlash. According to police, on March 15, Lavish D and six others caught Mozzy affiliate BillyDee “Kill Bill” Smith slippin’ inside of a shoe store in Sacramento’s Arden Mall and attacked him. Lavish D video’d the attack and uploaded it to YouTube (where it can still be viewed today). As a result of the attack, between March 15 and March 22, Sacramento police recorded a total of eight shootingswith eleven victims. Three shootings and six victims, one of whom died, were confirmed to be related to the Arden Mall incident. Lavish D went on the run, but was ultimately caught and sentenced to six years for the Arden Mall assault.
In regards to naming names in his music, Mozzy mentions Chicago “drill music” as the blueprint. He related to the way it reflected what was going on in his neighborhood.
“I was fuckin’ with the murder rate [of Chicago], the deaths, the stories, the headlines attached to the music,” he says. “I wasn’t really riding around just slappin’ hella Chicago drill music, but I was on the Internet surfing, looking at all the murders that occurred, this rapper getting killed, this nigga getting stabbed. So that was very influential as far as what’s going on in my community. It don’t matter — anywhere niggas are dying frequently, you gon’ tap into that because it’s so real.
“That shit reminds you of home, like this the same thing that’s going on in my community, but it’s happening on a major scale. Just to watch that, it’d be like you was lookin’at you. Them niggas look like me. Them nigga wear the same kinda gear I’m wearin’. Them niggas livin’ the slimy lifestyle like me. They infatuated with g-locks like me. It was mainy. They chucking up their gang signs to disrespect another nigga like me. They put niggas’ names in raps, niggas who just got smothered. That shit was like watching home.”
Also, in 2014, Mozzy caught a charge for possession of drugs and a pistol and did a small amount of time in San Quentin State Prison. However, this turned out to be somewhat of a blessing for him. While in San Quentin, his brother, E Mozzy, released an album titled Free Mozzy, which gained local popularity. Mozzy decided if he wanted to stay out of prison, he’dhave to stop living the way he had been. Once released in April of 2015, he went extra hard, dropping four albums, including Bladadah, which is slang for “gun shots.” Bladadah proved to be a game-changer for Mozzy. It blew up on YouTube, generating millions of views, landed number 22 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 40 best rap albums of 2015, andwas recognized by Complex magazine for having the “best run of 2015.” Bladadah introduced listeners outside of Sacramento and northern California to Mozzy’s music, and after the profile boost, he doubled down and began creating music at an even faster pace than before. In 2016 he moved to Los Angeles, releasing an impressive five solo albums and nine collaborative albums.
In 2017 Mozzy dropped five collaborative albums and two solo albums, one of which was 1 Up Top Ahk, his first “official” studio album. 1 Up Top Ahk was supposed to be thealbum he dropped when he got out of prison in 2015, but he intentionally delayed it for two years. One of the reasons he delayed the release was because law enforcement had raided his studio and confiscated the computer that had 1 Up Top Ahk and Bladadah on it. He also didn’t want to release it among the flurry of other projects he dropped in2015, such as Bladadah; he wanted 1 Up Top Ahk to be his “classic,” so he took his time to really nurture the record. The album is classic Mozzy, where he takes you on a journey through gang life, drugs, lost “family” members, and the pain that comes with it all.The album cover is a mugshot taken when he was 18 after being arrested for trappin’ outside of a local market when he sold drugs to an undercover. The album starts with a recorded phone call, where a Las Vegas police officer called a promoter to try and get him tocancel a show Mozzy had there in 2016. “He’s a thug,” the officer says. “And I know most of them are, but this dudegot a problem with guns.”
And though Mozzy’s pulled back from name dropping and blatantly disrespecting his rivals as his success has increased, he hasn’t completely been rid of controversy and beefs. During a July 25, 2017 interview on the No Jumper podcast he mentioned “funkin” with the legacies of older Sacramento rappers like Brotha Lynch Hung and C-Bo. C-Bo, who claims Garden Blocc Crip and refers to himself as a “Zilla killa” was offended, taking it that Mozzy was saying he has funk. C-Bo responded by jumping on Instagram, calling Mozzy out for a fade, said he was going to “pull evey dread” out of Mozzy’s head, and claimed he’s “revoked” Mozzy’s “pass” in Sac. A few days after C-Bo’s threat, Mozzy released a new diss song and video titled “New Era New King,” where he called C-Bo a “bald-headed bum” who’s “livin’ like a peasant.” The song quickly caught fire and within a week had over a million views on YouTube.
“When I said ‘funkin” on No Jumper, I was talking about funkin’ with their legacy,” Mozzy clarifies when asked about the situation. “I wasn’t talkin’ about funkin’ with them as a people. Them ain’t who I’m funkin’ with as a people. I ain’t even gon’ say no nigga name who I’m funkin’ with as a people. As far as these streets concerned? I’m not finna get on no interview and say, ‘I’m funkin’ with this dude.’ You know what funkin’ means? Funkin’ is murder. I’m not finna get up there and say that. But when a nigga get on the Internet and say he gon’ pull a nigga dreads out, he gon’ slap a nigga. Bruh, you playin’ with my ism, you playin’ with my gangsta. Fuck the rap shit, I ain’t even worried about that. You playin’ with my gangsta as a man. You up there, you talkin’ tough. I’ma seeif you can purchase that ticket you want.” C-Bo has since responded with a diss record of his own, “Body for Body,” which is a song title from Mozzy’s Bladadah album.
Then, just a few weeks later, on August 26, C-Bo promoted a video shoot for his song “Rep My City,” which would take place the following day at a local Meadowview park. It was promoted as a family-friendly event with a picnic and basketball contests. Whenthe event took place the next day, Lavish D was among the attendees. Lavish D handed out money to kids. All was going well until around 2:15, when gunshots rang out. When officers arrived, they found five people shot, and one of them, 49-year-old Ernie Cadena, aninnocent park-goer, had been murdered. Not long after the shooting, three men were arrested: Antwan Lands, 27, Amontie Wortham, 20, and Queison Murphy, 19. The three men were chargedin the killing of Cadena “in the service to Oak Park and Strawberry Manor gangs.” It didn’t take long for the three men to start snitchin’ on each other, and one of them to implicate Mozzy. According to official reports, Antonie Wortham provided the following statement:
“On the day C-Bo’s video shoot was shot up I was at Que Mozzy’s house on Seneca. I don’t really remember the time but it was me, Que Mozzy, Tweezy and Uzzy Marcus at Que Mozzy’s house. We received a phone call from Mozzy (rapper Timothy Patterson) and he told us to meet him at Wing Stop in the south area. I don’t really know where the Wing Stop was but it was close to the freeway and was in a plaza that was next to some apartments. Tweezy drove his SUV (referring to surveillance image photo previously described) and the four of us met up with Mozzy. Mozzy handed us a backpack that had three Glock pistols inside. Mozzy told us that C-Bo and Lav were having a video shoot at Meadowview Park and told us to take care of it.”He then went on to describe everything else that happened.
This did not look good for Mozzy. Those of us with experience in dealing with the law know that, if it can be proved that you sent someone to kill, you will face the same chargesas those who did the actual killing. As of this writing, however, no charges have been filed against Mozzy in the shooting or murder.
Despite the shooting, Mozzy’s star continued to rise, and it got an extra boost on January of 2018 when he got an unlikely shoutout by rap God Kendrick Lamar at the 2017 Grammy Awards while accepting his Grammy for Best Rap Album. When K-Dot took the stage, thefirst thing he said was, “Like my guy Mozzy say, ‘God up top all the time’.” Mozzy, who was on the road with Trae tha Truth at the time, was immediately hit with “a million text messages, a million phone calls,” telling him of the news. When asked how he feltabout the shoutout, Mozzy says, “I mean, he’s like a God in our world, as far as entertainment and music is concerned. He emerged from the trenches just like myself. So, for him to just mention me was an amazing feeling.” The following month, Mozzy’s voice closed out one ofthe biggest Black films in recent years, Black Panther, with the song “Sleep Walkin” from his album 1 Up Top Ahk. In addition to this, he has a song on the movie’s soundtrack, “Seasons.” This brought an even bigger audience to Mozzy and his album 1 Up Top Ahk. Though Mozzy didn’t initially understand the impact that being featured on such a movie and soundtrack would have, he would soon find out.
“My management team tried to tell me the magnitude of it. I really didn’t comprehend,” he says. “But after the rollout and I see that shit, I was like, this is crazy. So now I got a whole newfound respect, you feel me, for just the whole camp over there, the whole team,” he explains of Top Dawg Entertainment’s (Lamar’s label) endorsement.
“When [‘Sleep Walkin’] came on, I actually went to the theaters by myself to see it, fell asleep on the whole movie, no disrespect, I was just tired. And I woke up right beforemy part came on and actually got to see my part, it was crazy,” he continues with a laugh. “I seen the movie like five times since then. It was dope, it was amazing, it was indescribable.
“It inspired me to go hard. Like I gotta get on bruh level, I gotta get to that Kendrick Lamar level, I gotta get to them greats, you know what I’m saying, so I could double back and I could do that for somebody,” he says of the debt he feels. “I could go to the Grammy Awards show and shout out an up-and-coming artist that the industry is scared of, youfeel me?”
In March of 2018 Mozzy dropped Spiritual Conversations, an EP, in preparation for his second official studio album, Gangland Landlord, which would be released later in the year. Then, in July, he suffered a brief setback when he was pulled over by Las Vegas police and they found a gun in his Mazarati. He was arrested, but later released.
On October 5, 2018, Mozzy dropped Gangland Landscape, which had his biggest features to date, such as Ty $ and YG on the single “Thugz Mansion,” where he sampled the Tupacsong by the same name. Among the other features are Too Short, Schoolboy Q, and Trea tha Truth. Regarding the 55-minute, 18 track album, Mozzy says, “I feel like 1 Up Top Ahk was the growl; Gangland Landlord was the bite.” Gangland Landlord peaked at number 57on the U.S. Billboard 200.
While promoting the album he was asked by a Bay Area radio DJ his views on Messy Marv, someone Mozzy grew up listening to and has been inspired by. Mozzy explained that Messy Marv could do no wrong in his eyes, and that he was always going to be “that guy,” but due to Messy Marv’s feud with longtime Mozzy associate Philthy Rich, Mozzy couldn’t rock with him because of “the politics.”
Not long after, however, both Mozzy and Messy Marv posted video on Instagram of Messy Marv in Oak Park with Mozzy and several other gang members. And soon after that, Messy Mary was on Instagram, teasing his followers that he had big news coming, then flashed a shirt he was wearing that had the Mozzy logo on it. Before you knew it, Mozzy posted a video where he was putting a Mozzy chain on Messy Mary, and in mid-December, the two dropped their 10-song collaborative album, Chow Time.
Fans were shocked. When asked about Mozzy signing a deal with Messy Mary, Philthy Rich told Viogger Doc Hicks that he didn’t respect the move; that Mozzy didn’t even hit him up and mention it to him before doing it, that he — Philthy — learned about it just like everyone else: on Instagram.
Shortly after that, Philthy Rich squashed his longtime beef with Mozzy’s biggest foe, Lavish D. People from Philthy Rich’s area in Oakland felt betrayed by Mozzy and began saying he was no longer welcome. Lavish D and Rich stared posting videos together onstage and in Oakland, and eventually recorded the collaborative album Fuck Yo’ Politics –titled in reference to Mozzy saying he couldn’t fuck with Messy Marv “due to the politics” –which dropped in April, 2019. Soon enough, Mozzy and Philthy began trading diss songs.
Mozzy fired with “Chill Philipe,” where he accuses Philthy Rich of not being about any type of real beef, and “Killdrummy,” which has a photo of one of Rich’s houses as the cover art. Rich responded with “Troublesome 59,” where he accuses Mozzy of not being about the things he raps in his songs. Both of Mozzy’s songs are on his album Internal Affairs, which dropped May 28, 2019.
As far as what will happen next in Mozzy’s seemingly never-ending sags of drama, we will have to wait and see. Without a doubt, Mozzy is one of the most talented rappers inthe game today, and his buzz and movement continue to rise daily. He has the talent and charisma to reach superstar status and someday achieving his dream of being one of “them greats.” However, so did Tupac, and we all know how his constant conflict ultimately ended. All we can hope for is that Mozzy’s end is not the same as his rap idol’s.
To be continued….
Mike Enemigo is America’s #1 incarcerated author, with over 25 books published and many more on the way. He specializes in writing about prison and street-culture. His book Underworld Zilla, with fellow incarcerated author King Guru is available now, and more books in the series are being worked on. To learn more about Mike and his books, visit thecellblock.net, where you can subscribe to his blog. Be sure to also follow Mike on social media at @mikeenemigo and @thecellblockofficial.