Ohio born and bred Stalley has been on a heavy grind after his dreams of Pro Ball were derailed by injury. He pursued music in what turned out to be a natural progression - to him, seemingly blessed by God. From demo recordings with friends, to gracing the stage with the likes of Mos Def and Curren$y, to turning a deal with the biggest growing empire in the game, Stalley continues his ascension to the top.
With the recent release of his independent album, Lincoln Way Nights, his path forward continues. Having recently recorded sessions for flagship MMG release, God Forgives I Don't, and working on the label's next installment of Self Made, Stalley is in line to be one of the next greats off the Maybach Music Group roster. AllHipHop.com caught up with him a few weeks ago to hear what's up with the MMG MC:
AllHipHop.com: What's up, Stalley? What's good on your side?
Stalley: On the road heading to VA, got a show, University of Virginia tonight. Lincoln Way Nights available on Amazon, iTunes everywhere. Make sure you get that...we working. Ambition available EVERYWHERE!!!
AllHipHop.com: How was it for you coming out of the Ohio Hip-Hop scene?
Stalley: When it came to music, I was one of those people that listened to everything. There were times I went through my backpacker stage, my East Coast, West Coast, down South stage. That's the beauty of growing up in Ohio and the Midwest. We get everything; we are not biased to one coast or one genre of music.
I was probably one of the only people out of my friends that listened to people like Mos Def, Common, Nas. If anyone really listened to East Coast music, they listened to Wu-Tang, Jay Z, Biggie. Other than that, I grew up around people listening to Too Short, Scarface, Brother Lynch Hung, C-Bo, E -40, people like that. I listened to all that, too, but I was heavily influenced by all coasts.
AllHipHop.com: I know you like to step outside of your genre and work with different artists. How did this effect your relationships with others?
Stalley: They looked at me like I was hard to pinpoint, my sound or my style. Even from outside of Hip-Hop, I've been influenced by Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield. I try to incorporate all those sounds and inspirations that I got from those artists into my music. People start to look at me like, "Man, what's he on? Where's he going?" I just go wherever the instincts take me.
AllHipHop.com: You played basketball through your earlier years. How did you stay motivated to keep with it and not fall to temptation?
Stalley: My one big motivation through life, growing up in middle school , high school, playing sports, was just to get out of my small town. Growing up being there was like a trap. I seen a lot of great athletes leave adn come right back, not finishing school, 'cause really it's a trap. You get so used to it - everybody knows everybody.
When you go away, it's easy to get homesick, because everyday is laid out for you, your used to that repetition of just doing the same thing - waking up seeing the same people, knowing where everything is, just knowing how your day is going to end up. My thing is I just didn't wanna end up being stuck there, 'cause a lot of people end up selling and using drugs or are just there, existing. I knew I had a bigger plan for myself. I wanna be able to reach people and touch people, no matter if it were on a court or through music. That was the motivation for me to work hard and stay focused.
AllHipHop.com: How was the transition from your athletics and education to making music ?
Stalley: I didn't expect it to be as easy and natural as it was. I grew up focused on basketball and my education, 'cause that's what I felt like was going to take me to where I needed to go as man financially, being stable and to take care of my family. I didn't focus on music, I always loved music and it was a passion of mine adn something I did, but it wasn't the main focus, 'cause basketball was, you know?
I always wrote and did freestyles, but it wasn't until I got injured and stopped going to school and stopped playing ball, that a friend of mine got me into the studio and I recorded music, and it just took off...it was so natural. It was kind of like God put it there for me. He was like, "NO, you're not supposed to be doing that...your real passion and calling is over here." And that's where I went. I'm here now; it's going on four years now and I'm a signed artist. I'm with the hottest label, MMG. It's a blessing.
AllHipHop.com:Where do you draw your inspiration for lyrics?
Stalley: All my inspiration comes from life and living growing up in a small town, college. Wanting to be great wanting to better people and give something good to people to help better their lives and help them see they can do it. Also, my inspiration comes from those places I pull from that energy. The things I've seen, the struggles...all the glory, all the good things. There's been a lot of good that's happened to me. God has blessed me so much, and I reflect and pull from all of those places and put it into my music. Everything is real and natural. I don't say anything that isn't the truth or doesn't come natural to it. Nothing is forced; it's all me.
AllHipHop.com: Will Self Made Vol. 2 be the first official release we get to hear you on with the Maybach Music family ?
Stalley: Yeah, Self Made Vol .2is coming soon. We working on records for that; Ibeen working with Ross. I may be on God Forgives, I Don't - I'm not sure; he hasn't put the track listing together yet. But we've done a few records together; hopefully, I'll make that. If not then I'll definitely be all over Self Made Vol. 2.
AllHipHop.com: Maybach Music Group has a big roster from the Core Triple Cs Gunplay, Torch and Young Breed, then you've got Meek Mill and Wale. You've been opened up to building a lot of new relationships ...
Stalley: It's all love, everything is just natural. I wouldn't be there if it didn't feel comfortable; if it felt forced in any way, I couldn't be comfortable being around those guys. All those guys you mentioned right there, they're my brothers, good dudes. We vibe out, we talk outside the studio when we see each other. It's all love.
We all focused on music and being great in our own right. We all busy, but every chance we get, send a text, give a phone call. Being in the studio with them is great; there's no egos. Of course, we all probably trying to write the best verses and out do each other, but that's just being a rapper and having that pride of wanting to be great. But it's all love; them are my brothers. It's family over there.
AllHipHop.com: How have things changed for you in your personal life since your budding success?
Stalley: It's changed for the good and bad, you know? [laughter] A lot of people are happy, and you've got a lot of people who are not happy - that just comes with the territory of being successful and doing what you love to do. It''s been a blessing. I have no complaints; everyone has shown love, especially from my town.
We are a prideful place; we are one of those places when someone is doing something positive and good, the whole city is behind it. Not too many people get to make their way out of that town. I love to be that voice and representation of my city and give the kids hope that there's other things you can do besides sell and do drugs. That's all they seeing right now around them, and it's hard to stay focused on a bigger picture when that's all you see.
AllHipHop.com: What can we expect to see from you and the rest of the camp for the remainder of the year?
Stalley:Lincoln Way Nights is available now. We got tons of music videos off the project coming...got a new mixtape. Besides that, look forward to Self Made Vol. 2 , God Forgives I Don't, Ambition is available right now , Self Made Vol 1. is out right now. Just support the MMG movement, support good music.
Follow me on Twitter (@Stalley) and check out www.Stalley330.com, and you'll get all the latest and greatest on myself.
And good looking out, Mikey T The Movie Star; we making movies!
Follow Mikey T The Movie Star on Twitter (@MTMovieStar).