Cousin Stizz has been one of the most impressive musical outputs of the last five years, and he doesn’t let anything get in the way of his grind — not even a pandemic.
“The pandemic happened, everything stopped, and no one wanted to be near each other,” Stizz told REVOLT. “So, I sat in front of a computer for 18 hours straight to learn Pro Tools, and that was it. I started recording myself that night.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Stizz opens up about revisiting traumatic moments in his music, making Just For You during the pandemic and learning from rapper Freddie Gibbs. Check out our conversation below.
Just For You dropped this month (Feb. 11), and it’s your first project since 2019’s Trying to Find My Next Thrill. What took so long to make a follow-up?
There were a bunch of different things, bro. I can’t just say it was because of one thing. The pandemic was the main reason. In the very beginning of that shit, no one wanted to be near each other, so studios were pretty much out. We had to adjust to that first and foremost. After that, it was just figuring out my business and what I wanted to do in terms of leaving the label (RCA Records) and all of that. After that, it was a rebuild. Now, I’m about to learn how to do everything for myself.
How long did it take to finish the album?
I don’t even know. This shit was so spread apart. I wasn’t focused too much on it until I started focusing on it, if that makes sense. I always knew I was making a project at some point, but I wasn’t focused on it. I think ‘Blessings’ was the first song I recorded for this project. I feel like I recorded ‘Blessings’ right at the beginning of the pandemic. There is also a gang of joints I made in the last two to three months. Once I started focusing on it, it didn’t take too long.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the way you work, what was your typical recording situation while creating Just For You?
I recorded it in my room, in my closet. Sometimes we’d book a session if we all wanted to link up and have a good time in the studio… play music hella loud, drink and shit with the homies. For the most part, it was just me, Snaps and Luke, who helps mix and record. But, it was mainly me in the crib.
How is your recording process different when you’re at home?
I came up recording in my living room, so this is normal as hell. It wasn’t a transition. I had to make a transition to go into the studios. You could put a mic in the middle of the desert, and I’ll come out with something. I’m so serious. I’m so confident, it’s crazy.
On “Blessings” you said if it weren’t for the booth, you’d be in a grave. Are there sessions you feel kept you alive?
Life is life, the streets is the streets, that bar was what it was, and it meant what it meant. I meant it when I said it. I know where I come from. I knew what my resources were before I started rapping. It just is what it is. Every single session I’ve done kept me out of the way. I’m about to record after this, and this one I’m about to do is keeping me up out the way.
Your music can be very personal. How do you feel about reliving real-life moments when recording?
My whole career is based on that type of music. I feel I touch on that stuff a lot. You can hear that in ‘RIP Bro.’ I wasn’t trying to get too touchy on this project. I try not to pull those strings too hard because I know how tough it is to relive those traumatic moments. I’m an honest person, so I put all my fears, anxieties, happiness and all of that shit into the music.
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You and Smino have natural chemistry, and I saw a photo of you two in the studio last March. Did anything come from that?
That’s just my boy. Around that time I was with Smino every day. That’s really my patna. I’m sure we got some music together somewhere. I know he’s sent me shit, and I’ve sent him shit. We don’t really be on that. We just be kicking it. I know there will be a day where we’ll sit down and focus on some music together to make something happen.
My favorite song from you is probably “Toast 2 Dat” featuring Freddie Gibbs. How’d that track come about?
I already had the record done, and this was when I was signed to the label, so they really wanted features to happen on that project — but I try to keep it as organic as I can. I knew me and Fred was cool, so I asked him if he wanted to get on the record. I sent it to him, he was fucking with it, and it took a while to get the record done. I actually ran into him at an event. After the event, I went back to Fred’s crib. We smoked, talked about life shit… he stood up and rapped that shit in about 15 minutes, then I went about my day. That was my first time really rocking with him in the stu. That was my first time seeing him work. It taught me a bunch. That was around 2019, so I wasn’t even recording how I record now. Watching how he got up and got to rapping and how he approached the record showed me a few different things.
What do you need in the studio to make your best music?
I just need my vibe. It depends on the track and what’s happening. Honestly, it’s really the music. The music tells me everything. The music tells me what type of night it’s going to be every time. I try not to think about it too much because every song is different — so I have to approach it like that.
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What was a truly memorable session you’ve been a part of?
The funniest one is when I had a session with Post [Malone] around 2015. That was when I just started coming up. It was a fun time. I feel this was right before ‘White Iverson.’ I feel like he was one of the first people I got to know in L.A. Those early sessions back then were tight to see because he blew up right after. We actually cut something that never happened.
You engineer and record a lot of your own music. How did you get to that point?
The pandemic happened, everything stopped, and no one wanted to be near each other. So, I sat in front of a computer for 18 hours straight to learn Pro Tools, and that was it. I started recording myself that night.
What do you have coming up for the rest of the year?
More music, bro. I’m trying to have another project out. I’m excited. Learning how to record myself was the best thing I could’ve done. I encourage everybody to do it. I’m mad I didn’t learn how to do it sooner. It takes a lot more to make the music because you have to really want to make something. You can’t just pull up, get these verses off and then dip. You have to really want to make the song. I feel a lot prouder when I’m done. It feels good to not have to wait on anybody when I have an idea. The more you do it, the better you get at it.