Mixtape Review-Spiritual Conversations by Mozzy
Mozzy is amazing and proof that we are living in amazing times. My favorite part of Black Panther is when we flash back to 1992 and pan slowly across the basketball court, his voice surfs over the beat and a smile wears my face. The moment blew my mind because Mozzy is of the tradition of E-40 & Too Short a California beat busting hardcore oddball who floods the market until you can’t get away. His music is everywhere. If you look up Mozzy’s discography in google you will be flooded with projects solo and collaborative. He works and spits his truth all over the place and that truth changes. He doesn’t just flood the market he sharpens his sword with each project. 2017’s 1 Up Top Ahk was easily a step up from the already awesome Mandatory Check. In the 90’s he would have just sharpened that sword off to the left while the main stage propped up slick pop rap. The TDE come up changes everything, Kendrick grew up on E-40 & Too Short so he loves Mozzy. He catches the wisdom in the verses while others hear Gangsta Rap for its own sake.
I deeply admire people who can do their best work right as the spotlight finds them for the first time. As the whole world hears Mozzy narrate Oakland in Black Panther he dropped a six song ep that is absolutely the best gateway drug to get into Mozzy.
You can hear the influence of Kendrick’s secret weapon Sounwave in the production style of Spiritual Conversations. The bay used to be all slapping speaker rattling anthems now a new lane is open with rich tones and warm piano textures to better articulate yourself over. Sorry Jaynari, Dave-O, Daniel Cruz, AK-47, Vontae Thomas and Terrace Martin(when you hear the horns on Interlude you’ll know its Terrace Martin) all contribute to a very unified sound.
I’m struck by how reflective and boldly insightful Spiritual Conversations is. Mozzy has always been both of those things but underneath thick armor. 1 Up Top Ahk was a teeth out conversation about violence. This project gives Mozzy wisdom the full floor. In the first verse of No Choice he says “When you told me you loved me, I ain’t believe it/But when you show me you love, you’ll receive it.” It’s a great example of his glaring emotional intelligence but not even the only one in the song (“Bruh told on blood ’cause he ain’t wanna do life/I send my condolences in a kite/You know them people gon hang him and that ain’t right/Stare at my daughters to see the light/Went and got him a M, I promise to see it twice.”
I love hearing Mozzy swap bruising verses with the criminally underrated Jay Rock but my favorite song is Who I Am. The crackly casual tone he delivers that chorus in and the insomnia flavored paranoia in bars like ” Bad karma got me lookin’ over both shoulders/Singin’ bout the shit I did, I pray he ain’t told on us.” SOB x RBE got the most burn from Black Panther soundtrack and they sound great. I’m happy they have the TDE machine behind them and sound energized but I know the most important name on that soundtrack… the one that shocked me and delivered and it’s Mozzy.
Stream or download Spiritual Conversations below:
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Tagged 1 Up Top Ahk, 1992, AK-47, bay area hip hop, Black Panther, Black Panther Soundtrack, California, Daniel Cruz, Mozzy, Sorry Jaynari, Spiritual Conversations, Terrace Martin, Vontae Thomas
FME 2016 MVP HONORABLE MENTION-YG
We used to crown “mixtape MVP” but the distinction between mixtape and album is unimportant at this point. Everyone has streaming services and no one pays per album, it is a heartless profit starved reality but it is our reality.
YG was almost my pick for 2016 MVP because he distinguished himself as an artist from everyone else on the planet this year and he did it with his music, his words, and his beliefs. In 2014 when YG released My Krazy Life to an avalanche of critical praise a lot of that went to DJ Mustard.
Mustard was having a huge year and he had hits but it was being presented as if he was the white hot sun of the ratchet movement…which is ridiculous. YG’s follow up album to My Krazy Life called Still Brazy is so important. It features two songs produced by P-Lo of the HBK Gang (IAMSU’s crew) and they were doing the exact same sound at the same time Mustard was. Rick Rock, Droop-E, League of Starz and anyone connected to E-40 predates them. People following the West knew this. Mustard was a part of it but not an originator and not the best at it. People reading the headlines and not the articles thought Mustard owned the West and was propping up YG.
YG charged into 2016 throwing B’s at the listener and smashing each song with his impactful delivery. Terrace Martin brought the burbling West Coast thump and the Roger Troutman talk box to Twist My Fingaz, Swish used all his colors to render the deepest most beautiful landscapes behind Still Brazy’s best tracks (Gimmie Got Shot, Don’t Come to LA, Who Shot Me, FDT). The guests are impressive from Lil Wayne and Drake to Kamaiyah, Slim 400 & Sad Boy. YG became a central part of this year’s narrative by releasing the smash mouth election anthem FDT (featuring Nipsey Hussle) and in a real way he had all the West Coast artists shouting “F_ Donald Trump!” Many were making references to Trump as not a reputable character (see Smoke Dza-Don’t Pass The Blunt to Trump) but YG is way more straightforward than your “lyrical” rappers and way more lyrical than your fun “party” rappers.
Before the end of the year he dropped an eight song project called Red Friday. It featured fun anthems full of braggadocio like I’m A Thug but also serious venting on police brutality (One Time Comin’). When I heard him on Left, Right in 2014 I thought to myself “this is a real move the crowd rapper” someone with a voice and tempo that needs all your attention. Still Brazy and Red Friday add more to our shared definition of YG. On songs where he feels personally affronted by someone it is shocking and powerful because he has deep wells of anger that are fascinating. The songs that are about his beliefs resonate because he can’t help but make his views of right vs. wrong vigorously present. His gang lyrics aren’t sensationalist but grounded, straightforward and powerful. Everything he speaks is vivid. He doesn’t approach these songs like Ali did Frazier, more like how Tyson approached Spinks.
He was one of the first names I thought of because he destroyed the box he was put in and that is what everyone is trying to do. It is not what he did wrong that cost him the award it is the unthinkable performance of the winner.
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Tagged DJ Mustard, Drake, Droop-E, E-40, FME MVP 2016, Honorable Mention, Kamaiyah, League of Starz, My Krazy Life, Nipsey Hussle, P-Lo, Ratchet, Red Friday, Rick Rock, Sad Boy, Slim 400, Still Brazy, Swish, Terrace Martin, YG