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Matt McMahon will be your cousin if you ask him nicely.
On his new nephew-sized EP All Adds Up, Cousin Stizz delivered three unsurprisingly great new tracks this weekend in a slightly surprising way. Anchored by reliably strong production and instantly catchy hooks, the result is all but expected from the Boston rapper on the heels of his prodigious record-a-year run of the past three years.
As such, All Adds Up acts as a brief reminder of Stizz’s firm grasp on the form he’s been perfecting since 2015’s viral sensation Suffolk County. With an ear for the sort of electronic-leaning, out-of-this-world beats dominating the airwaves, regular collaborators Tee-WaTT and Lil Rich’s opener “Shop” stands up against the likes of Metro Boomin’s most ambient work and DJ Esco’s spaciest cuts. Anyone familiar with the trio’s previous collabs, most notably “Doubted Me” and “500 Horses,” wouldn’t find anything shocking about it, but what does surprise here is Stizz’s writing.
Instead of slinging a brand new bunch of his notoriously witty mantras (like “No Bells,” “Fresh Prince,” and “Living Like Khaled”) on All Adds Up he adopts more well-worn rap tropes for choruses and achieves the same level of success making them his own. There’s seemingly nothing new about a rapper claiming they’re “Way Up,” but when Cousin Stizz croons “Five on the bottle, I’m way up” over warped chimes and video game leveling up sound effects, you just plain buy into it more.
He has an uncanny ability in his delivery to make you feel good about yourself in the process of listening to him boast, as if you’re in some way in on it. His best hooks take on an air of daily affirmation. On the triumphant EP’s standout “Did It,” when repeated enough times, “I can’t believe that we did it” starts to feel like personal motivation. It’s charming in a way I want to call “wholesome” and “supportive”—but flanked by descriptions of drug deals and rough sex I’d probably be side-eyed for having said so. In fact, it’s a feeling that I haven’t found so precisely evoked through song since Kanye turned a beat Common passed on to a jam, and that kind of double-fisted confident and inspirational message has become Stizz’s signature.