Bostonian Rapper Cousin Stizz dropped his third mixtape, One Night Only on Wednesday July 12, 2017. Bucking the usual, Thursday night release, Stizzy returns with a 13 track outing with a handful of features from Offset, Buddy, G-Eazy and his Boston neighbor Big Leano.
Across his first two projects, Suffolk County and Monda, Cousin Stizz seemed to have found his comfortably lazy flow, one that emphasizes drawn out syllables at the end of bars and a penchant for flatly delivered hooks. While his trademark performance style returns, Stizz has refined his delivery, with tweaks noticeable as early as on the intro cut “Switch Places.” Although Stizz retains his monotone, adenoidal speech that rarely shifts in energy, the Suffolk County native has improved his ability to shift between verse and hook, with neither aspect of his tracks sounding as blatantly out of place as they sounded on Monda.
Rifling through the tape’s first few tracks, “Paid” leaves a lasting impression amidst its twinkling and distorted lullaby of a beat that complements Stizz reflecting on his youthful dreams of success. Just as importantly, Stizz varies his cadences between his usual lethargy and an up-tempo swing which mask his continued lack of vocal excitement.
In fact, enjoyment of Stizz’s consistently faded tone through the album’s first half is more so hampered by the lack of any idiosyncrasies or adlibs than the quality of his flow. Stizz benefits from the patchwork of background sounds on his production, such as the tinkering of bells and light percussion on “Up To Something,” but his vocal tendency to take the most direct, A-to-B path through his verses rivals the efficiency of a Japanese railway car. The cyclical nature of some of Stizz’s tracks is unfortunate; whereas his hooks on Monda gave birth to earworms like, “My life is moving like 500 horses,” the reuse of energy deficient hooks like, “Yeah, I put the drank in the headlock,” reeks of an uninspired formula held captive by what sounds like a reliance on punching in.
Despite a lackluster first half (including the flute guided lead single “Headlock”), One Night Only picks up at the onset of “No Ice.” Finding a zest for life, Stizz commands center stage amidst a sea of bass and chirping synths that elicit a greater level of energy. This trend continues into “Paper Calling” which interpolates a familiar triplet flow on the hook that slices the monotony of his usual cadence during his verses. “Pullup” featuring Compton singer Buddy takes Stizz’s chilled out flow and applies it to a synth-heavy west coast inspired instrumental on which Stizz’s audible gasps for air suggest a more organic approach to laying down his verse. Of course the overtly repetitive “Fuck what ya talking ‘bout,” hook could be better served by including Buddy who is limited to five bars after the opening, but the instrumental stands so far in contrast with the rest of the tape that it’s largely excusable.
Music aside, it’s difficult to dislike Stizz, who is unabashedly proud of his hometown Boston despite it not being a hip-hop mainstay. Just as his outro track “Jealous” ends with a resonating synth on top of some heavy-footed bass, Stizz is sure to continue to improve his sound beyond what is at times, uniform to a fault.