Stalley holds Massillon, Ohio close to his heart and brings that passion through his music with an organic blend of sounds from all coasts. He meshes them togetherto create a unique sound for himself and a listening experience like no other. With influences that rangefrom from Nas, Ice Cube, Scarface and Andre 3000, Stalley is a throwback in terms of lyricism, flow and stage presence to the 90’s hip-hop experience. With friends and advisors like Mos Def and Dame Dash, he is maneuvering this new age blueprint of hip-hop by taking the grassroots approach via social networking and mixtapes but with the same care and dedication if it were a major album deal. —Storm
VIBE: What was your intial plan when you decided to pursue music after your basketball dream didn’t pan out?
Stalley: Initially, I was just a fan of music; someone who music just represented throughout my life, whether it was studying or playing basketball or whatever. It was just the soundtrack to my life. All music not just hip-hop. As far as hip-hop goes one of the people that stood out for me and made me want to pursue the music thing was Nas. Growing up as a kid I saw his videos and just listened to his albums and he was such a great representation of hip-hop to me, being a young black male growing up in a poverty-stricken area—he was kind of that definition of it and was someone I had admired growing up. After basketball and school, I kind of just stayed in New York; stayed around not knowing what I was doing or where I would take my career path to. Because growing up and playing sports and going to school you have a whole different outlook on life period. You have different plans and those were cut short due to injuries and just me leaving school.
I was just trying to make my way through New York City and I had few friends of mine who knew I did music and listened to my music prior, just me rapping not music just me writing rhymes or free styling and stuff like that. They kind of convinced me to get into the studio. I recorded a six track EP in the studio and I took it by the store where all my friends kind of hung out at in the Soho area. We just listened to project one day in the store; I had just got it thirty minutes before that from the engineer that actually mixed it down. I went from the studio and getting that [EP] directly to the store, played the music and maybe a couple of minutes later Mos Def walked in. He basically said “Yo, this is nice, it‘s dope and I like it!” Me and him exchanged information and he was like “keep doing your thing,” “you got a talent, you got a gift.” That was like the seal of approval because Mos is also someone, like Nas, whom I admired growing up and listened to growing up and I watched closely. As an artist he’s amazing and for someone of that caliber that I look up to say that I’m what hip-hop needed and had what hip-hop needed was amazing and it was like this is what I need to be doing.
I was going to ask you what that initial bond/contact was like between you and Mos Def as well as Jay Electronica? Can we expect anything from all of you collectively in the near future?
We have music that we have recorded it’s just not out. Hopefully, in the future we will actually be able to sit down with all of our busy schedules and make more music or create a project that we can give out to the world. But right now it’s on hold because everyone is doing their own individual projects. At the time, when were kind of bonding and around working in the studio we were able to knock out a few songs together. I mean Mos is always someone who has been a friend and who has given me good advice; kind of told me I’m doing the right thing and to keep doing my thing type of guy. He’s been a great person’ kind of like mentor I would say. He might not even know how much of an impact he has had and me having the courage to continue to do what I’ve been doing after our initial conversation. He’s definitely a great part of that and someone who gave me that kick in the butt to keep doing it.
Being that you make your home in NYC now, how do you stay connected to your hometown?
I’m able to keep Ohio with me everywhere because Ohio is just a big part of my life and my growth. Where I come from is very prideful; it’s a small city. Everybody represents that city no matter how hard it has been to come up through that city or you know the trials and tribulations that we all go through coming from that kind of makes you happy and proud; but it make you sad sometimes too where you came from because of the situations that you were dealt but it’s something that I want the people to know that this is me and Massillon, Ohio is what made me into the person that I am. You know it’s not where you’re from but where you’re at.