(AllHipHop Features) Last month, Kyle “Stalley” Myricks began exercising his creative and professional demons with the first installment in the Tell The Truth: Shame The Devil series. The 7-track EP partially serves as Stalley’s audio journal filled with bars about business/aesthetic independence, emotional/psychological stability, and the ratchet/conscious balance.
Songs such as “1 Deep (Solo)” cover the Blue Collar Gang leader’s departure from Maybach Music Group and Atlantic Records. “Jean Jacket” allows listeners into the emcee’s mind as he delivers rhymes as a coping mechanism to manage the unavoidable ills of the industry.
By teaming with Atlanta's rap superstars Migos for “My Line,” Stalley lets the world know his smartphone is for closing lucrative deals not engaging in casual convos. Young Scooter - another ATL resident - shows up on the EP’s closer “Green Eyed,” a cut about jealous ones unintentionally displaying envy.
With 2017 also seeing the arrival of the New Wave and Another Level projects, Stalley is planning to continue his impressive musical output in the new year. The product of Massillon, Ohio will be back with two more volumes of Tell The Truth.
Find out what Mr. Myricks has to say in this Q&A about his most recent release, the importance of paying attention to mental health, and progressing as an artist.
AllHipHop: You dropped a lot of music over the last year. What led to you being so productive?
Stalley: Just having time to myself to put together bodies of work, record as much as I wanted to, and just bury myself in the work. I was in a situation where I was basically working out of another situation. So I thought I’d just take that time to be as productive as possible.
AllHipHop: How has releasing music as an indie artist been different from doing so with a major label?
Stalley: It’s a breeze being able to have that freedom to create when I want to create and how I want to create, to put the music out at the pace that I want to put it out, and not have to answer to anyone or have people question me about what I’m doing.
AllHipHop: So outside of the business side of it, you felt like you had more creative freedom this time?
Stalley: Yeah, 100%. I had way more creative freedom all across the board - visually, artwork, everything.
AllHipHop: You kind of mentioned your situation with MMG on the project. Was that split amicable when you decided to leave?
Stalley: Yeah, it was kind of agreed to on both sides. It wasn’t no issues. It was a natural progression just like growth. You know how you grow apart from somebody? It’s kind of like being in a relationship. Sometimes it just don’t work out and you grow apart from each other.
AllHipHop: On “1 Deep” you made a reference to Atlantic. I recently watched an episode of Everyday Struggle when K. Michelle was on there. She talked about how she felt like Atlantic seemed to be focusing more on Internet celebrities like the “Cash Me Outside” girl. Did you see a shift happening while you were there?
Stalley: You definitely see them focusing on weird things or things that are just trendy. You just see it’s not focused on the music and the creative part of being an artist. It just becomes about everything else. I can definitely see how they’re going more towards the popularity of “social media darlings” or people that are popular on social media. I tell people all the time that once you get over a certain amount of followers on social media you can be whoever you want to be. You can be a rapper, you can sell clothes, you can be a therapist.
AllHipHop: I noticed you’re active on Twitter but not as active on Instagram. Is there a particular reason why?
Stalley: I had a lot of pictures [on Instagram]. I just started over with a clean slate - new music, new Stalley, new everything. It’s a new situation.
AllHipHop: Going back to the music, it seems like “Jean Jacket” is one of the fan favorites off the project. That song includes lyrics about how some fans don’t really understand the politics of the game. How do you personally balance dealing with the negativity that comes with being in the business and maintaining the creativity needed to be an artist?
Stalley: Well, I don’t deal with it no more. [laughs] Thank God. With “Jean Jacket,” that was definitely a song that was personal. At the time, I was going through a lot, and I just wanted to let the fans know they don’t understand the politics or what we go through. As consumers, they just want the product. Sometimes they don’t care to get into what the artist might be going through. Sometimes I just want to sit back and chill, take care of my kids, and relax for a second. But they don’t want to hear that. They just want the music. Or they don’t understand how a label could be holding you back in any type of way. They might be the ones that's not allowing you to put out the music at the pace that you want. Sometimes it falls on you because they don’t see what’s behind the scenes.
AllHipHop: People in the industry kind of have a sense of what the creatives have to deal with. Obviously, I’m not an artist so I don’t completely understand your lifestyle, but after having conversations with people, I feel like I have a better understanding than a general person. From my experiences, I often wonder if we, as a culture - meaning the artists, journalists, executives - pay enough attention to mental health issues. I noticed you sent out a tweet about how important mental health is. Can you expound on that thought?
Stalley: I actually make that a priority now, to put myself first. I actually focus very much on my mental health and my physical health. Sometimes that’s the first thing to go before your mental health - letting your body go, gaining or losing weight. That’s when the depression starts setting in and you see yourself transforming mentally and physically. But I feel refreshed and great now. I feel like a new person. And I don’t think that the execs, artists, and others pay too much attention to it. I feel like we’re in a culture where we are always told to “man up” and get over something. I hate that. A lot of times we don’t even know who to turn to or how to get this help. Sometimes when we go to a big brother, a cousin, a parent, or a friend, they’ll be like, “Get over it. You’ll be alright. Toughen up.” It’s like, “Nah, I’m really crying out for some help.” It’s tough on us as a culture. Some people might listen to “Jean Jacket” and be like, “Man, that n-gga got some ill bars.” I was going crazy [lyrically] and it was coming from the heart. But at the same time, some of that stuff at the time was me calling out for help. I’m glad I put those feelings out, and hopefully those feelings can help someone else.
AllHipHop: Was that therapeutic in a way?
Stalley: Definitely. I was in my homie’s studio. He got a studio in his basement, and it gets a little cold down there. He has a makeshift booth built out of plywood. I’m down there and I got my jean jacket on. I don’t write no more. I just go into the booth, put on a beat, and just kind of freestyle my thoughts out. As I’m in the booth, I’m looking at this jean jacket I got on. That’s how the song came about. I was in the booth with this jean jacket and the sh-t is feeling like a straitjacket. Everything started spilling out just naturally. I just got so much off my chest.
AllHipHop: It almost seemed like you had a different voice on this album, not necessarily a voice as in the way you sound. It’s more like your whole approach [was different].
Stalley: Part of it comes from the freedom I had to have that carefree spirit, not worrying about anybody, knowing that when I put this music together there wasn’t going to be no one there to listen and pick it apart or hint that it’s not radio-ready. Also that freedom of not writing anymore, just going in the booth and getting my thoughts out, no pen to pad, just being free.
AllHipHop: I noticed there are only Atlanta acts featured on the project. Was that on purpose?
Stalley: Yeah, definitely. Again, it’s a transition, it’s part of the growth. A lot of people might not know, but for the past seventeen years, I lived in Brooklyn, New York. That’s like really home for me, even though I rep Ohio to the death. Ohio is home too. So moving down to Atlanta in the past year and a half was the first time I’ve lived somewhere different over the past seventeen years. So it was just about connecting with different producers and artists. It felt like home as soon as I got here. Everybody was welcoming. Migos, Young Scooter - everybody here wants to work and got the same goals in mind as I do, and that’s just to be great and put out dope music.
AllHipHop: I read that Tell The Truth: Shame The Devil is part of a series. When can we expect the next edition?
Stalley: Very soon. Top of the new year. Yeah, you can expect Vol 2 and Vol 3 very soon. But I got a lot of visuals coming out from Vol 1.
AllHipHop: I did an interview with you in 2016. At the time, you said you felt like Saving Yusef was your best project up until that point. What does Tell The Truth: Shame The Devil represent for you at this point in your career?
Stalley: It’s a benchmark. It’s my championship. It’s a graduation period. Back then, I was still learning and trying to figure things out. Like the title goes, I was trying to save myself. But now I feel like I’ve graduated and stepped into independence. These next three projects are definitely, hands down, my best work. I know I said that about Saving Yusef, but this trilogy of Tell the Truth: Shame The Devil is definitely my best work to date.
AllHipHop: I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. With every album, you’re supposed to grow.
Stalley: That’s what it is. It’s natural progression and growth. As long as I can outdo myself and keep pushing myself to be better - and I feel like I’m getting there - then I’m satisfied.