Cousin Stizz is one of my favorite new rappers of the last few years. The first song of his I stumbled across was “Life,” a loosie from 2014 that will make you want to punch somebody’s head off and/or take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror (“you ever wonder what it all really means?”) I was hooked. Better yet, in a headlock.
In 2015, the Boston rapper dropped his debut mixtape Suffolk County—an ode to his native Massachusetts—which was powered by trapper’s anthems like “Shoutout” and “No Bells.” In 2016, he followed up with MONDA—named after a close friend who passed away from cancer just months prior—which was ig’nant (“Gain Green”), introspective (“Wanted to Live”) and way too good to be snubbed by so many Best Albums of 2016 lists.
Despite Drake playing “Shoutout” at his 28th birthday party, Oliver El-Khatib premiering “Gain Green” on OVO Sound Radio and labels like G.O.O.D. Music showing interest early on, Cousin Stizz has mostly been building his buzz on the fringes of Internet stardom—whatever that means in 2017. You always felt like he was one song or one moment away from truly breaking through.
His new single, “Headlock,” might just be that moment.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the song features one of the hottest rappers on the planet right now, Offset, who delivers his best verse since “Bad & Boujee” (“I am the engine that told you I can / Big bank take little bank, the battle of the band”). The spellbinding production, meanwhile, comes courtesy of Vinylz, the workaholic hitmaker behind Drake’s “Fake Love,” Travis Scott’s “Pick Up the Phone” and Big Sean’s “Blessings." Seriously, why are flute beats so damn fire?
A heavyweight collaboration like this could easily overshadow a lesser-known artist, rendering them irrelevant on their own record. But Cousin Stizz’s star power shines through with a hook that’s as hypnotic as Henny itself: “I put the drink in a headlock / Try and cross me, boy, you better not / Four until four, almost fell out / Do what they can’t ’cause they deadlocked.” I don’t blame Zane Lowe for running this back seven times on Beats 1 Radio this afternoon—I’ve tripled that count already.
“Headlock” is the first single from Cousin Stizz’s upcoming mixtape, ONE NIGHT ONLY, dropping May 12 via RCA Records. If there’s more where this came from, he's about to become everyone else's favorite rapper, too.