Boston, MA – Since the release of his debut mixtape Suffolk County in 2015, the buzz of Cousin Stizz has taken him from respectable local Boston MC to seeing his star power illuminated in the national spotlight. The “Shoutout” rapper continues his win streak as a representative of the fledgling Massachusetts rap scene, and brings more heat with his latest project, MONDA, released on July 14.

Stizz, 24, hails from the Dorchester section of Beantown. The enclave is where Sunday morning games of streetball in his Fields Corner neighborhood and community youth center, DYC, act as outlets from the area’s rampant gun violence.

After a recent sold-out homecoming show, Cousin Stizz spoke to HipHopDX in an exclusive interview about the difference between Suffolk County and MONDA, the latter of which is dedicated to his late teenage best friend Damone Clark (A.K.A. “Monda”), who died from bone cancer this past January.

#DamoneStrong

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“This tape is a lot different from Suffolk County,” Stizz said. “Suffolk County was more me just recollecting my own life and looking back and having fun. This shit is more deep because of what was going on.”

Delving into the emotions surrounding the making of his latest project, he explained how he told his friend when and why he dedicated the mixtape to him just months after he was diagnosed with the disease.

I told him that shit way before it was his time. I told my bros way before his time, I let everybody in the hood know that I was going to name it that way before it was time for him to go. It took me a while to get brave enough to tell him. Once he had to start living in the hospital, I had to let him know that I’m going to do this shit for you, cause that’s my nigga. Damone Clark, that was my loyal, little nigga. We all grew up in DYC together. All the niggas you see on stage with me, we’ve all went to the same youth center, so we all watched each other grow up. And Damone was the youngest, so we all watched him grow up.

“This shit started off with what we thought was just a knee injury from what we thought was basketball, and it turned out to be a cancer that’s in only 5 percent of people in the world. Something that was too wild to even be treated. It was the most wild type of bone cancer that you can have. It’s crazy when you know, like you know. But he was braver than all of us, he was talking about it like it was life. To him it was, it’s what life gave him. So I figured I can’t be afraid of anything, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do. If my lil’ bro who was 15, 16 years old is accepting what’s going on, how can I be afraid of anything? How can I not do anything? It took me a while to work it up on my chest to tell him, but I told him this album is for you, bro. I’m just happy that people are listening to it.

Cousin Stizz recalls the moment with melancholy about a fateful night that he didn’t respond to an invite from Clark to play what would’ve been their last game of Grand Theft Auto together.

“When Damone passed it was crazy. I was playing on GTA that night. We were all on GTA, we used to do that, that was our ritual, we haven’t done it since he passed. That was our ritual, we used to get on GTA together for him. And I was on GTA that night with him, he was so nice at the game, too, he had the yachts, everything. He was whoopin my ass. It was crazy cause he texted niggas—we all have a group chat together—and he texted us at like 2 a.m., and was like, ‘Is anybody on’?, like, ‘Who’s online?’ I looked at the text, bruh, and it was like, ‘I’ll deal with Damone in the morning.’ It was like 3 a.m., I was like ‘I don’t want to play GTA right now, I’ll deal with it in the morning,’ and that shit happened. I felt fucked up for a minute.”

Stream 
MONDA below, and check out HipHopDX’s contest for a chance to win a ticket to Stizz’s L.A. show.