Next Up: Cozz

If there were ever a Richard Sherman story in hip-hop Cozz would be it. The 21-year-old South Central, Los Angeles native began his youth with dreams of being rich but acted on them differently than your average perceived kid from the area.

Rather than slanging dope on the corner or sticking up the vulnerable the rapper born Cody Osagie chose to lay low. Being the beneficiary of a two-parent household also helped and there was no Doughboy to his Tre Styles. And while Cozz didn’t necessarily participate in the fast life he certainly witnessed people who did.

“I knew gangbangers and I had a moment in my life where I wanted to do it out of stupidity and me just being young and immature. I grew up in the heart of the hood but my parents kept my head on straight.” In his more recent years Cozz has used hip-hop as a distraction. And it’s been a damn good one. Ironically though, rap wasn’t originally in the plans for the head on straight kid. Rather it was a way to express himself and his experiences–perhaps the ones he never wanted to have.

“I never really wanted to be a rapper. It was just a way for me to express myself and do that in my art. I really just want to get kids that were in my situation through their day. It’s the same with me. I’m still in between mature and being young. I feel like I’m here for a reason and I’ve got to figure it out for myself.”

Recently signing with J. Cole and Dreamville–his imprint via Interscope Records–Cozz made an encouraging life for himself. One though bars and beats rather than guns in the streets. Dropping his debut album, Cozz & Effect last October to wide acclaim Osagie and his vicious voice proved he has staying power. But with that longevity manifested comes expectations, and he’s well aware of that.

“[Cozz & Effect] gave me a boost of confidence. But with it it’s like damn, I’ve got certain expectations now. When I made Cozz & Effect I didn’t have any expectations so now that I do drop shit it’s going to be criticized in a hard way… I feel like I’m better than Cozz & Effect already.

“I learn from Cole just to believe. He told me he made the mistake of trying to make hot records at the beginning of his career. He told me to do what makes me happy and to make the music for myself first… I feel like nobody sounds like me right now, that original real shit but at the same time I’m having fun with it so it’s pure all the time. I’m 21 so I’ve got a lot of diversity and I feel like a lot of people don’t do that.”

- Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)

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Related: Video: Cozz – Toca Tuesdays Freestyle | Cozz – Ya Know Dat (Full)