Following his stellar mixtapes in 2015 and 2016 Suffolk County and the heartfelt Monda, respectively, Cousin Stizz returns with his third consecutive mixtape One Night Only to stake his claim and put his city of Boston on his back. He’s inevitably embraced the fact that a rap artist’s identity is inextricably linked to their city, state, or — if they are internationally born — country of origin like an ambassador on Capitol Hill. An unknown rap artist’s stock is heavily weighed by the history and strength of success, or lack thereof, for their predecessors in the Hip Hop community. Besides the late Guru of Gang Starr, Edo G, 7L & Esoteric and The Perceptionists, Boston has little heft in this context. Which means it’s open season for Stizz carving out his own legacy.
The 25-year-old MC continues to forge his brand of Atlanta-influenced trap music with staccato rhyme cadences, airy and melodic cloud rap keyboards with thunderous bassline beats, laid-back personality blended with East Coast-oriented lyricism and reflection on his humble beginnings. It boasts two high-profile featured verses from G-Eazy and Offset from Migos, and brings newcomers Big Leano, and R&B crooner Buddy. The title of the Field Corners, Dorchester native’s 13-track project is counterintuitive to how he’s gradually found success since he emerged onto the rap scene with his fan favorite “Shout Out” in 2014.
From the first song on One Night Only “Switch Places,” he revels in his glory of high-end materialism, motivation from his naysayers, and his newfound party and drug lifestyle as a transplant in Los Angeles. It’s the quintessential first track jump-off that increases upon his draw in the concert festival circuit. The second track “Lambo” is an 808-banging effort has repetitive lyrics and chorus that supplants his lyrical prowess for trap enthusiasts to sway in unison and simply getting lit in the club. The most resonant cuts on the project are the bounce factor and dexterous wordplay on “No Ice” and “Paper Calling,” the ethereal, melodious soundscapes of “Paid,” “Jo Bros,” and the album’s final track “Jealous.” The best song that balances his sense of romance, rhyme skills, and ability to write memorable hooks is “Pull Up.” Song evokes an early-to-mid 2000s sensual R&B feel with Buddy uplifting the track with his smooth falsetto refrain in between Stizz’s verses.
But the tracks with the featured guests are the moments that are troughs compared to the aforementioned crests throughout the wavelength of One Night Only. The instances that unceremoniously dry out the energy include the laborious ad-libs and woodwind-sampled “Headlock” (with Offset), the autobiographical “Up To Something,” the G-Eazy-feature “Neiman Barneys,” with its bare hook with spendthrift content and the mere filler track, “The Store” with Big Leano.
The first thing that comes to mind for most fans about Cousin Stizz is that he’s from Boston, a city known more for dominating the sports world than championing the rap artists it produces. With Drake’s steroid injection towards 2015’s “Shout Out” record and being 12 million followers-strong on Soundcloud, Stizz has graduated from the stigma of a local “struggle rapper” to being signed to a major label with sold-out crowds reciting his songs verbatim. After the release of One Night Only, continuous touring with chart-toppers like Mac Miller and Kyle, more features with established artists, plus an album that could potentially reveal Stizz as a formidable songwriter, you can anticipate more Hip Hop fans showing love to The Hub in the ensuing months.