Straight out of Los Angeles, Cozz is arguably one of today’s most underrated rappers. Despite a J. Cole co-sign and the ability to take his previous struggles and hardships and turn them into well-crafted works of rap (an ability few rappers today have), he’s still looked at as a 3rd-string quarterback in the rap game. Four years after Cozz & Effect, Cozz is still proving his talents are legit with his debut album, Effected, his best album to date.
After signing to Dreamville in 2014, Cozz received the necessary push he needed to jump-start his rap career. Raising eyebrows with Cozz & Effect, he followed up with impressive appearances on the Dreamville compilation, Revenge of the Dreamers II, and 2016’s Nothin’ Personal. Two years later, he’s demanding nothing short of respect, dropkicking all obstacles towards greatness on his official debut.
If one thing is clear about Cozz, it’s that he raps with a chip the size of a New England pothole on his shoulder. With nearly half a decade under his belt, he’s yet to gain the attention and respect he deserves and he addresses said doubters and critics throughout Effected. On the opening track “Questions,” Cozz takes direct aim at these naysayers saying, “Bad at they struggle, but don’t hustle to earn cheddar/ I work, get up early to earn the first letter/ A+ effort, I know I deserve better.” On “Proof” he echoes this same message, this time taking aim at rappers he sees as overrated.
Effected is the most fitting title for Cozz’s debut. Throughout the album, he details how past events and his current lifestyle, fame-filled and all, have affected his attitude, and overall perception of life. On “My Love,” he reveals how his near-obsession with success and trust issues have brought out an inability to love and connect with someone in a relationship. Surrounded by an anecdote about a stolen Pokemon card, Cozz expresses said issues with friends he once believed were close on the title-track, rapping, “Now everybody say that you they n***a, but they only real interest is to get a loss percentage.” Relaying a life surrounded by demons, Cozz opens up about how sex and his drug use have become coping mechanisms on “Demons N Distractions.”
A true hustler, Cozz depicts different examples of the lifestyle, both his own and others, on the tracks with star features: “Hustla’s Story” with Kendrick Lamar and “Zendaya” with J. Cole. On “Hustla’s Story,” Cozz defines the basic “hustler” as anyone, “This probably your uncle song/ Probably your big brother song/ Your father or your mother song,” also saying that “the hustle” can’t be understood without a hustle of your own. Later he details a story of his dad’s own hustle. On “Zendaya,” aside from shooting his shot with Zendaya herself, Cozz acknowledges he’s not the rapper he wants to be, doesn’t plan to stop the grind until he is.
It’s quite evident that Cozz is a product of his environment, past hardships and sub-par human-to-human interactions stand as inspiration for much of the album’s content. With that being said, Cozz struggles to understand why his environment fails to give him the credit and appreciation that he feels he truly deserves. While many continue to question why Cozz is so underrated, there are some weaknesses he has that could be the reason. Very similar levels of emotion are held throughout the album, Cozz’s struggle with love on “My Love,” discontent with younger women on “Freaky 45,” and anger on “Effected,” are all clear through his lyrics, but these emotions are hard to depict through his tone and voice. Cozz is a very talented rapper that is destined for a good spot in the rap game. Adding more versatility into his formula for ultimate success could help gain the respect he strives to attain.