Interview conducted and written by: Ijeoma Unachukwu
With a new album in the works and a national tour with Lupe Fiasco, MMG rapper, Stalley, still had time to stop by the Rutgers Graduate Student Lounge on Saturday December 7 for an intimate meet and greet sponsored by the Rutgers Black
Student Union. Stalley may not be a household name just yet, but he’s making all the right moves to get there. Ohio born rapper and budding style icon is not your typical MMG rapper. He doesn’t rap about “bitches” or shut down “niggas”. Stalley is a college graduate, a poet, a dreamer, and a thinker. Drawing inspiration from the world around him, he takes in the details of these experiences and synthesis symphonies to make the soul groove and spirits vibe. I had the chance to interview the soft spoken small town rapper and discover the man behind the music.
BVCL: So let’s get right to it. Tell me how you started rapping and
Stalley: I’m from Masson, Ohio. I started rapping in 2009. I’ve always loved poetry since I was a kid. I probably started when I was 13, 14 years old just writing poetry. In 2009 I had lost my job and I decided not to go back into the workforce. I was like man, let me just go ahead and follow my passion and my love which was music, so I got into the studio and started recording. I’m here now.
BVCL: What were some of the struggles you faced not going back into the work force and starting a career from scratch?
Stalley: It was hard. Money is always the hard part when you’re not making money and you’re trying to find other ways to make
money the right way and provide for yourself and your family, while trying to focus on the dream. Fortunately when I did lose my
job it wasn’t because I was fired or anything. It was just because of the economy at the time ,so I was able to get unemployment [compensation]. I lived off that for a while, went in the studio, and put that money towards my art. It started paying off quickly after that.
BVCL: What was your vision behind “Swangin” because that song is all over right now, especially in Ohio?
Stalley: My vision behind that was just paying homage to the car culture. I love cars. Anybody who knows my music knows that I love cars. It was just be bringing the Ohio scene, the car movement and the Houston car movement together. That was really just to radio or for the clubs, but I make music for cars- something you can jam to real nice while you’re riding around.
BVCL: Speaking of Ohio and cars, what are some things, people, and places you draw inspiration from?
Stalley: I get a lot inspiration from the tri-state area, you know New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. I went to school here in the area myself at LIU. A lot for my inspiration came from there. I love when I go overseas: Paris, London, and places like that. It’s just seeing something different, meeting different people, hearing different languages, even the way they eat. All of that ties back into my music.
BVCL: How would you like to experience your music, in the sense of what direction would you like to go in?
Stalley: I just want it to be more of a household sound. I want people all over the world to know Stalley and to know the music and enjoy it. I want them to be relaxed and comfortable while show the world that connection and show my appreciation of cars and what they have done for music. A lot of people do music for listening. Like I said, I like to make music that you can really think to, you can dream to, and inspire people to be better people.
BVCL: I like that! So I hear your working on a new album. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Stalley: Well right now I’m on tour with Lupe Fiasco so I haven’t had as much time to be in the studio as much as I want to be. But,
as soon as the tour is over, I’ll be back in the studio, finishing up the album. It’s coming together great, so I’m really excited to get back into that process because I’ve been on the road for over a month straight. I haven’t had a chance to really get back into the music. It’s gonna take a while to knock the cobwebs off, but once I get back in that zone, I’ll be ready.
BVCL: What are some of the themes of this new album you’re working on?
Stalley: Really, I’m just trying to tap in to me. You know, give the fans and the people who have supported me a little bit more. I
think that they don’t know as much as I would like them to know about me, my personality, where I come from, my beliefs, my disbeliefs, things that really motivate and drive me. I’m someone who’s really secluded in my thoughts, so I’m trying to break out and be more open and comfortable with the listeners.
BVCL: Do any of your tattoos have anything to do with your music or your inspiration?
Stalley: Yea! These are all American traditional tattoo art. On my right hand are Pharaoh’s horses. They represent wealth, power, and strength. [points to other hand] This is a horseshoe. It represents good luck, like a money magnet, whatever you wanna call it. It all just represents my belief and my style as far as just musically. Again, I’m from the west, a small city, so I’m real America driven. My tattoos show that patriotic side too. It’s all in my music and it’s all in the way I dress and the ways my tattoos are.
BVCL: What sets you apart from the rest of the MMG label?
Stalley: Just that. Being where I’m from, you know because there’s not many rappers from Ohio, let alone a small town in Ohio. I’m from small town America. Just me giving that perspective on life, how I grew up, where I come from and hip hop. It’s never been done. That’s what really sets me apart from anyone.