Cousin Stizz Credit: Isaac Garcia

Boston is rarely celebrated for its contributions to hip-hop (Gang Starr started there, but most remember the legendary duo for their time in New York), yet last summer when Fader writer Eric Diep asked Boston rapper Stephen Goss, aka Cousin Stizz, whether he believed his hometown’s scene deserves more outside recognition, Stizz replied, “Yo, Boston is going to do whatever the fuck it do regardless if people want to give us recognition or not.” Stizz imbues that take-no-shit attitude in his work, and that spirited interpretation of the Boston hip-hop community is alive in his personality, Even when he isn’t specifically referencing places in his hometown scene he carries himself with a sense of self-satisfaction, energy, and pride. On his major-label debut, July’s One Night Only (RCA), Stizz raps with the preternatural calm we used to demand of those who filled the role of president—he locks his vocals into his minimalist instrumentals like he’s the only person with the codes to unlock their power. Stizz can sometimes sound unperturbed, no matter the mood of a track; the energy level he brings to a song isn’t always in sync with an instrumental, and the resulting tension can works wonders. Stizz’s wistful, half-sung hook on the chilly “Paid” transcends the specifics of his rags-to-riches-themed verses to deliver a sense of triumph to anyone who needs it.   v