Stalley has been biding his time within the ranks of arguably the biggest hip-hop label, Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, for a while now. While the doubters thought that he had flopped, and the existing fans worried that the Blue Collar Gang representer had changed, the Massillon-native has emerged with a debut album that is really going to turn some heads.
His home state of Ohio isn’t one that is well represented in hip-hop, despite a rich musical history that has informed the sound of many a classic rap album; but this is something that Stalley intends to change. Named after the state, his debut album is full of intelligent trunk music, a sound which draws from the trunk-rattling funk of his heritage and applies thoughtful and relatable lyricism that doesn’t forget to have fun.
We caught up with Stalley this week to talk about growing up in Ohio, moving to New York, the pressures of being signed to a major label, having the support of Rick Ross and how the West Coast stole Ohio’s sound.
In the UK we’re more familiar with the major cities in the US that are covered on TV and stuff a lot. What was it like growing up in Ohio?
I mean, growing up in Ohio, it’s the midwest of America. It’s more of a blue collar place, all across the midwest. When you think of Ohio, Detroit, Chicago, St.Louis, Indianapolis; cities and states like that are very family orientated, it’s very 9 to 5, factory work, a lot of cars. It’s very industrial, but it also has your typical neighbourhood where it’s gangs, drugs and violence, but it’s also a lot of sports; football, basketball, baseball. It’s really an area where everyone is a hard worker, everyone has a hustle and is trying to make a dollar, because there’s not a lot of opportunities or resources in the Midwest, so we just make do with whatever it is that we have and try to make the best of it.
You ended up moving to New York though, what was that transition like?
I moved to New York and I went to school in Brooklyn. A little part of Brooklyn like Flatbush, a couple of years ago Flatbush had 350,000 West Indians alone – that’s not including Blacks or Whites or Spanish, that’s just West Indians – my city where I’m from, Massillon, has 30,000 people ion it. So when you think about moving from a place where there’s 30,000 people to Brooklyn where there’s 2.5 million, it’s definitely a drastic change.