By: Seamus Fay
Cousin Stizz has been on fire ever since his debut mixtape Suffolk County, and his sophomore effort MONDA kept the same momentum going. Both projects are special in their replay value and minimal filler, making them Boston classics that have helped greatly in putting the city on the map. I did a run-through of each track on MONDA and talked about how they contributed to the project as a whole and some of the significant moments in each one.
To start off, the story behind the title, “MONDA“, is that it is named after one of Stizz’s best friends, Damone Clark (nicknamed Monda), who passed away from a rare type of bone cancer just as Stizz was started to gain quite a bit of attention. The project reflects on his passing in many ways, exploring the emotions that Stizz has felt since the event and how they have fueled his work ethic in a lot of ways. It seems that the Dorchester rapper finds inspiration in Clark looking down on him, watching as he becomes more and more successful as a rapper and makes his whole city proud.
“Wanted To Live” serves as a summary of the whole project, establishing the themes that we will see throughout the rest of it. The song starts with Stizz talking about the big dreams he always had, even before he was famous at all, just a kid in Dorchester. Although, he quickly makes it evident that even with the success he’s had, he still has love for his roots and stays connected with what’s going on in his hometown, whether it’s good news or bad news. The end of the track describes the motive behind the project, and may just have some of the most important lines on the entire thing, describing how Monda inspired him to go hard and be the best he can be before he passed away.
Before Monda passed, he told me to spit ether
That turned me to a creature
He fighting off all my demons
I can see it when I wake up and right before I’m sleeping
So you, God, and me: the only things I believe in
“Day Gone” works very well as the second song, following up the first track with a simple narrative of Stizz’s day to day and his various hustles. It acts as a discussion with the fans in a way, giving an update as to how life has been since the widespread success of his debut. In addition, Stizz seems to talk to the people he came up with on the song, discussing how he is finally getting the chance he has always hoped for, and how he won’t waste it in any way. The laid back melody and drums support this, creating a vibe that makes it seem as if the listener is hanging out with him, hearing everything that’s been going on for him.
And if you still breathing better stay hustlin’
“500 Horses” is one of the most popular songs on MONDA, following a darker instrumental that showcases a more serious Stizz, looking at how close he is to where he wants to be. He’s focused as ever on the song, letting listeners know of the risks he had to take to get where he is, dealing drugs and doing what he had to to get by. This track really shows Stizz’s hunger, with his life moving quick as he works tirelessly to get what he’s always dreamed of. “Think I’m addicted to riding in Porsches” tells of how he has had a taste of success, and now more than ever he is determined to find more. One of my favorite parts of this track is how he measures his success in many different ways, including the fact that he no longer has to deliver drugs to customers, but he now only picks them up and doesn’t have to take those same risks, symbolizing the huge change in his life since rapping has popped off for him.
I don’t deliver no more only do pickups
And this a marathon lil boy get your wind up
These dollar signs the only thing that can fill us
So everyday I’m asking God to forgive us
Although it was taken off Soundcloud by Stizz, “No Skrat” is more upbeat than the previous, looking at everything that’s going on with a different perspective than in “500 Horses”. He isn’t looking at what’s to come as much in this song, but instead acting thankful for making it past all the days in Field’s Corner, waiting to blow up. It’s a celebration of making it, to an extent, even when the odds were stacked against him considering that he didn’t grow up very privileged. Stizz also points out how, once he made some money, he bought his mom designer everything as a thank you for sticking with him all this time and raising him the best she could. It makes the fans appreciate what has happened in such a short amount of time for the young rapper, even if this is only the beginning.
Remember when my pockets wasn’t nothing but some change
Count, few years later now the youngin out here running things
Started from the bottom
Now we here pour drank
Cop some new chains cause we made it through them days
“Gain Green” is one of my favorite Cousin Stizz songs to date, talking about how hungry he is for more success and how so many people around him switched up once he started to blow up. He mentions how the same people that didn’t support him in the beginning now act like they loved him all along, asking for a piece of the success in return for being a fan since day one. Stizz looks them off, ready for the top and quickly realizing what he needs to avoid if he wants to stay focused. In my opinion, Stizz seems to appreciate where he’s at, and he almost finds it funny how fake everyone became. He seems to laugh at the fact that they even have the courage to ask him for favors, but he knows in the back of his mind that it’s a marking of how he’s really making it farther than many people ever imagined.
Can’t a young nigga get some money
Rolling up twenty out the onion
Open up the sack it’s smellin funky
Gain green but I need blue hundreds
“Down Like That” has the only feature on the project, with Larry June and Stizz going back and forth about their upbringing and what life was like before rap. Their come ups were very different, as June claims to have had two BMWs before rap fame, all from hustling. Meanwhile, Stizz mentions again that him and all his people scraped by, doing whatever they could just to make it and be able to follow their dreams. He also describes how he didn’t forget about his background, saying that he still hangs out at the same basketball court in Field’s Corner that he used to. Another main theme of the song is the question of if other artists are really about what they claim to be. The differing attitudes from June and Stizz make this a great listen, providing insight into both of the rappers’ lives.
Like two times looking they rewound it back
This remind me when we ran around and black
Tryna steal my wave you prolly drown in that
Smoking with my bro he’s like what’s sound is that?
“Every Season” is yet another anthem to Stizz’s life at the moment, letting people know that he’s on fire right now and he isn’t stopping anytime soon. The track is important to him if you think about what the project means as a whole. He’s doing it all with Monda looking down on him, and he’s relishing in the fame with the strong mindset that this was meant to happen. Stizz is excited for the future and thankful for the past, but he’s living in the moment right now, trying to enjoy everything that’s happening because of how fast it moves. This is a sort of look around song for Stizz, appreciating all the different aspects of his life improving as he follows his dream. “Every Season” is timeless, speaking on a theme that so many can relate to and so many strive toward.
First class designer bag pocket full of cash
Blunts ash livin’ fast just look at the dash
I’m just trying to make it last, it go in the flash
“Reup and Bake” is a look at the work ethic of Stizz. Even when he fails, he brushes himself off and keeps going. The title alludes to his older days of constantly reuping his supply and pushing out more, as it relates to what he does with music today. Every time he fails in one way or another, he gets back to work and makes more until he feels he is at where it needs to be. This is also a look into how Stizz has been able to block all the distractions out, sticking to his main group of friends and family who push him forward. He looks off all the fake people and things that he has to deal with by shielding them with hard work and dedication.
Yeah I know, sometimes they switch it on you friend or foe but I was taught you better stand up when its time to roll
I gotta go, I’m tryna shed some good light on the hood
Shit understood, if it was meant to happen for me, then it would
“Million Things” is a slower track, with some rare autotune on Stizz that has grown on me quite a bit. The song shows Stizz’s appreciation and pride in the fact that he made it through so much adversity, and no one can take that from him. With all the hard work he put in, it’s only right that he has made it this far and he gets to enjoy the benefits. He points to another common theme on the project, saying that nothing can put him down at this point considering that he has really seen it all.
Been knocked down before, I got up
Tried to move forward when it’s not much
They can be a million things, but not us
Does destiny talk to you? Cuz mine does
“Ask That” plays up the personality of Cousin Stizz, fitting him into the role of being a famous rapper. He seems to be getting used to all the fame with this track, handling it as it happens and letting everyone know that he’s the same person he’s always been. “You ain’t gotta ask that” reminds everyone that Stizz is feeling himself and he’s at a point where he can really flex with everything that has happened. It makes me happy as a fan, seeing that the song is similar to “Fresh Prince”, but with changes made based on how Stizz’s life has changed.
Moncler, I’m a little high maintenance
All year, ain’t no minimum wages
Don’t ever speak on limitations
Mama need a crib a little more spacious
From the jump, I jumped up straight to the majors
“Big Fella” is one of the more calmed down cuts on MONDA, detailing Stizz’s will to make it to the top and prove himself to everyone who doubted him since the beginning. My favorite part of the song is in the beginning of the first verse when he raps, “The hard top came off of bro’s white Jeep/ So I could see why these niggas don’t like me.” The line speaks on the white jeep in the video for “Shoutout“, one of his first hits that helped him gain tons of momentum. He talks about how that video put him on the map in a lot of ways, and he suddenly saw why everyone was salty: he was making it even when they didn’t think he would. “Big Fella” also reminds us of the transformation that Stizz has gone through, adjusting into his new role of being a big figure on the scene, representing for Boston. It’s a warning that he’s the new guy on the block, and everyone in the way needs to clear out because he’s next up. He raps with the control and knowledge of a veteran, but we remember here that he isn’t one at all, fresh to the scene.
The hard top came off of bro’s white Jeep
So I could see why these niggas don’t like me
My mans ain’t charge the boy
I scrapped just to make ends
We work hard
I paid him off
He got the black Benz
“You Won’t Understand” is reflective in a lot of ways, with Stizz reminiscing on the days he spent with Monda before his passing and everything that used to go on in the neighborhood he grew up in. The track is a thank you to the people that made Stizz who he is, as he explains that not many people understand everything he went through to become the rapper he is today. My favorite line on the entire song is “Hopping over fences now I’m hopping into foreigns” because it shows this perfectly with just one line, following the common theme on the project of Stizz using simple language and very few words to get huge points across about his life. The line summarizes the entire song by telling of the change in Stizz’s life and comparing the different stages of his life through his actions.
If you ain’t known me then you won’t understand
When the only plan serve a thousand xans
Everybody over here getting big chips
I can’t vouch for you if you ain’t apart of this
“Screwed Up” is an interesting listen, with a calmed down beat that seems to appreciate life for Stizz at the moment. It is one of just a few times on the project where he sounds perfectly content, not mentioning the future or the success he hopes to have. Carefree as ever, I find that this song is a great way to start wrapping everything up and leave the listener with what they have heard so far. It acts as another update about Stizz’s life, with a different attitude than he had on “Suffolk County”. He seems more experienced with “Screwed Up”, and less excited about being a famous rapper. Stizz is really getting used to being the man everywhere he goes.
You said you was there from the jump, yeah I know
Point me to the money anywhere and I’ll go
Working all year I can’t keep my eyes closed
If there’s a way I gotta make it out
“Where I Came From” is the opposite of “Screwed Up,” looking back to the past of where it all started for Stizz. This contrast between the two songs to end the project is great to hear as a listener, once again confirming that things can change for anyone no matter what the circumstances. Stizz is a reminder to us all that hard work can get you just about anywhere. The vivid memories of robbery, drug dealing, and more are told along the haunting beat, putting a final image in the listener’s mind of the what the past looked like for him. Overall, I find it to work very well objectively because of the reminder that Monda was there for these experiences, and he would sure as hell be proud of the ones he sees Stizz and company having now.
I’m on the move like the mayor
Pull up my shooters got lasers
Purple blunt yellow cup lakers
Hitting the bank like the takers
I got the Goyard in flavors
I do not fuck with the fakers
Don’t need no handout or favors
Stack up stay low keep it playing
*I’ve already put this on Twitter before, but just a reminder about where Stizz was at only a few years ago. Video credits to Tim Larew*