A Conversation With Dreamville’s Cozz On Building His Fan Base
(AllHipHop Features) The imprint’s founder, J. Cole, heard the cut and inked a deal with the South Central native.
The man born Cody Osagie would go on to drop two solo projects (Cozz & Effect, Nothin’ Personal) and contribute to the Dreamville compilation Revenge of the Dreamers II. Cozz would also take part in Cole’s “Forest Hills Drive Tour” and Bas’ “Too High To Riot Tour.”
Prior to joining Dreamville’s starting line-up and releasing his own full bodies of work, Cozz was just an aspiring rapper who had yet to venture too far outside of Los Angeles. Fast forward a few years, the budding star is now building a fan base around the world. He and his longtime friend/producer Joshua “Meez” Morgan joined forces to launch Tha Committee as well.
“Momma never thought I’d make it this way,” raps Cozz on “Dreams.” Despite the apprehension from others about his pursuit of Hip Hop as a career, Cody Macc is starting to prove why creating art is his calling.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Dreamville’s Bas, Cozz & Ron Gilmore On Being Part Of The “Too High To Riot” Tour & Working With J. Cole]
You released Cozz & Effect as a commercial project and then released the Nothin’ Personal mixtape. Rappers usually do the opposite. They release the mixtape first and then they release the commercial project. Were you ever reluctant to take that path? And why did you decide that’s what you wanted to do?
Actually, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t go into Cozz & Effect like it was an album. Before I put it out, I linked up with Cole. He heard the project. It was pretty much done by the time I got to him, and they wanted to sell it.
I was against it because it was my first project. They said in the long run it would help. They felt like it was so classic it had to be sold. So I was like, “F-ck it. I’m new to the game. If y’all think that’s right, then let’s do it.”
That’s why with Nothin’ Personal I said I got to drop something free. I never dropped nothing free before.
Looking back on it, do you think it was a good idea?
Yeah. I do feel like that project is my very first project to the world, and I feel like it is really, really good. I feel like when I do get bigger later on, people are gonna go back and buy that project. I think it was a good idea. I’m glad I did that.
Whose idea was it to put Cole on the remix to “Knock Tha Hustle”?
It was actually Cole’s. He wanted to get on it. It’s funny. Before he hopped on it, he was going to try and get on “Western Ave. Slaves.” But he hit me like, “I don’t really relate to that. That’s too personal for you.”
He called me like, “I hopped on ‘Knock Tha Hustle.’” Either way was fine with me. Then I heard it, and I was like, “God damn bruh!” [laughs] That sh-t was dope as f-ck. I’m glad he did that because I don’t know how he would have sounded on “Western Ave. Slaves.”
The thing that I felt was interesting about him being on “Knock Tha Hustle”… when I saw that, I thought, “That’s almost like subtly saying we’re passing the baton.” Because [Cole’s Roc Nation label head] Jay Z had “Can’t Knock The Hustle.”
We actually talked about that too. It’s crazy how that happened. That’s just some universe sh-t. I don’t think it was intentional. It was just some connection.
A lot of times when I talk to artists, they talk about how things just happen when they’re really in a groove, the universe just makes things happen, and it’s not always planned out. Do you see that happening with you?
Hell yeah. I’m a strong believer in that. I just kind of go with the flow. I work hard, but I don’t gotta force nothing. I make sure the sh-t comes naturally. I feel like that’s just the best way to go about things.
I want to talk about some stuff, but I can’t. [laughs] But lately, a lot of stuff has been happening like that. Some crazy sh-t actually. When the time’s right, we’ll have a conversation again, and I’ll tell you. But yeah, I’m a firm believer of that.
In the [**\*Too High To Riot\*] documentary, there’s a segment where you’re talking about how you were surprised that you had all these fans everywhere. Even at this point in your career, does it still shock you that you get that response from making music?**
Yeah, depending on where I’m at. In L.A., I’m pretty known. That’s hometown, so for me, it’s dope. But I’m still like, “What the hell?” If somebody notices me at the mall, it’s still kind of trips me out. But what really trips me out is when people stop me while walking around other parts of the state or the country. I know I possibly got fans everywhere, but I’m nowhere near my peak yet.
You’re 23 and signed to one of the biggest artists in the world. When you look back to a few years ago, would you have imagined you’d be where you are now? I ask that because a lot of people have big dreams but sometimes they get discouraged at different points and then walk away. Did you ever have that moment where you felt like “this is not happening” and you didn’t necessarily see you being where you are today?
It’s like a yes and no. Deep down I was like, “I know I can do this. I know it.” At the same time, it’s like there’s always that doubt too. The thing that was pounded into my head growing up was, “Boy, you gotta go to school and get your education. That’s going to be your way out.” So there’s always a doubt like, “Maybe this is some crazy dream.”
It’s different nowadays because we got the internet. So I saw all these kids getting on and putting out music. At the time, I was just writing. I started at 16, but I felt like my bars were crazy. It’s crazy though cause at 16 I thought I was going to be on by 18. At 18, I thought I’d be on by 19. That sh-t didn’t happen.
I was going to community college and failing. I feel like at that point in my life, at 18, I was thinking, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” But at the same time, I was still rapping and ditching classes to record. Luckily, I got signed at 20 and dropped my project at 21. So it did end up working out after 18.
At what point did you meet Meez and when did you realize there was a chemistry there?
I met him at like 17. We were just chilling one day at my homie’s house who I went to high school with. He played me some beats. I was like, “You’re not bad, honestly.” I didn’t know anybody that made beats. I was still getting beats off YouTube.
He would just play me beats and we just worked together from there. I was going through some things where I didn’t have nowhere to stay cause I wasn’t cool with my mom or pops. Both of them wasn’t f-cking with me, and I was staying with him.
So we literally worked every day. He became my boy. We became friends before we really started working. I was there every day and we had nothing else to do but work. So we just kept working. That was that. We live together now. At a new spot of course, not with the moms. [laughs] But we’re still doing the same thing.
I was listening to “All Eyez On Me.” You made a reference to the “Hip Hop savior.” Sometimes artists embrace that term and sometimes they reject it. What are your thoughts about someone saying Cozz is the Hip Hop savior?
I don’t even look at it as I’m the only “savior.” I don’t really think Hip Hop needs saving. But what I’m saying is that I’m one of those dudes who still got the traditional Hip Hop in me but a little mix of the new school too. I got both worlds in me.
I’m young, but I grew up on that real Hip Hop. So I’m just one of those dudes that when you need a story, some type of lyricism, some type of bars, you can always come to me. There are multiple people like that as well. I’m just naming myself as one of them.
You mentioned how you’re a young guy. What is it like being one of the youngest artists on the [Dreamville] roster?
Yeah, everybody is older than me. I didn’t even think about that. [laughs] Nah, it’s cool. Honestly, you can’t really tell. We feel like we’re all the same age, basically. We all party together. We all talk sh-t. They’re older, but they’re still young minded as sh-t too. [laughs]
I feel like I do bring a new energy, a little new “‘93 flavor” or whatever you want to call it. But honestly, you can’t really tell. We all kick it like it’s nothing.
The Insecure situation. Did you know that was happening?
Nah, I didn’t know that. I knew it was possible because my engineer, Enimal, he’s a blood brother – like same mom and dad – with Issa Rae. He would always tell me, “My sister’s working on a show.” I’m thinking like her YouTube show. Then it ended up being Insecure.
He told me, “You might have a shout out on there. She f-cks with your sh-t. I don’t know if you’re gonna have a shout out, but she might shout you out.”
At the time he was telling me I’m thinking it’s not that big of a show. But then when it came out, I was like, “I hope I get that shout out still. Sorry for doubting.” [laughs] So yeah, I had an idea, but I didn’t know for sure it was going to happen. But when it happened I was excited. Sh-t was dope.
Do you watch the show?
I haven’t watched all of them. I don’t watch TV like that. I’ve watched like three or four episodes.
I was going to ask you if you consider yourself a member of the “Lawrence Hive.” But you haven’t gotten to the last episode.
Yeah, I don’t even know what that is. [laughs]
You’re working on a new album. What else do you have in the works right now?
I don’t know if I can speak on one of the things. But I’m working with other people as well now. I can’t really say no names.
Honestly, the album is the main thing right now. I got a lot of songs I plan on putting out that are not on the album. I haven’t put out a project in a while so I have a lot of material. I’m figuring out what I’m doing with certain things.
I’ve been so focused on the album. I haven’t been trying to work with too many people or do too many things. When I’m locked in on a project, I’m pretty much locked in on that. That’s it besides the other thing I can’t talk about. [laughs]
Since you have that connection with HBO and Hollywood, does entering into the acting field ever cross your mind?
Hell yeah. It’s funny I got called in to do three auditions in the past three months. They reached out to me, and I actually took one audition. I took an acting class before I did it. Obviously, I didn’t get the part, but it was dope. It was fun.
It depends on the role. I don’t think I’m one of those guys that can do too much out of my character. [laughs] But it’s something that I want to work on. Even when I did the acting class, it was mad fun to me. So it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to when the time is right. I gotta get the music thing down first.
Finally, has there been any talk about Tha Committee getting together and doing a full body of work?
For sure. Definitely after my album drops. I’m really excited about this album. I feel like it’s super special. So after this album comes out and the ball gets rolling a little more, that’s for sure. We just want to have the right tools and platform to do it. Me and my boys in Tha Committee, we’re always working. So we got a lot of stuff in the stash. We’re just waiting on that right time.
YouTube: Cozz - Grow ft. Correy C
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Stream Nothin’ Personal below.