Considering the fact that a Massillon, Ohio MC by the name of Stalley has managed to work with some of Hip-Hop’s biggest heavyweights in a mere two year proves that raw talent and raw passion can’t be remissed. Moving on from a college scholarship and a basketball injury, a young Stalley gave in to his longtime passion for writing and put it to music, a move that would prove to pivotal. After a chance meeting with Mos Def, he was invited to join him, Curren$y and Jay Electronica as a part of Center Edge Territory and formed a withstanding relationship with Dame Dash and legendary producer Ski Beatz. Now a resident of Brooklyn, Stalley sat down with HipHopWired to tell us how things fell into place so quickly, what his fans can expect next and why he’ll never cut his trademark beard.
HipHopWired: So first of all, I hear you’re from Massillon, a very small town in Ohio. How’d you get started rapping coming from such a small place?
Stalley: I would say off of just being bored and curious. (Laughs) I’ve always been into music, I’ve always been into Hip-Hop. One day I went to school and in study hall I didn’t really have anything to do so I would write. I guess it started off as poetry at first because it was just me writing lyrics and letting all my feelings and thoughts onto a piece of paper. That’s how I got into the writing part of music. How I got into Hip-Hop is that music has always been around in my house with my mom and my family. We woke up listening to music and heard it going to bed.
HipHopWired: So you really started it in school, I heard you went to Long Island U…
Stalley: Yeah I did go there but this was back in like high school when I first started to write. It’s been like two years since I recently started to do music as far as recording structured songs.
HipHopWired: What made you want to move away from the college scene and really take music seriously?
Stalley: In college I played basketball but then I got injured. I was more into sports than I was into school but I did school because I wanted to do sports. After that I kinda walked away from school and sports and really started focusing on music.
HipHopWired: How does it feel to be one of the artists that really has Ohio on their back right now? We really don’t have that many except for maybe Bow, Cudi and Chip…
Stalley: It feels good. I think that’s what drives me and motivates me. It’s important to me to represent Ohio and the small town that I’m from. I feel that I really need to do it in the right way because being that there aren’t many artists from Ohio it’s important that I shine that like the true aspects of Ohio.
HipHopWired: So now you’re living up in Brooklyn and I hear you had like this chance meeting with Mos Def and got invited to join Center Edge Territory. Tell me what that was like.
Stalley: I actually met Mos two years ago when I first started doing music. I actually put together an EP with like six songs and I went into a store with my friends who kind of convinced me into getting into writing. Long story short, Mos happened to walk into the store one day and they were playing my music. He said, “Yo this is dope.” So we exchanged contact information and kept in contact. Then recently we hadn’t seen each other in a long time but ran into each other at DD172 which is Dame Dash’s space. That’s when he formed Center Edge Territory and said “Yo I need you to be a part of this group” and at first I thought he was playing. (Laughs) Then he was like, “Naw seriously, any music that we prerecorded, hop on it and anything new, you’ll be a part of it.”
HipHopWired: What’s the latest with that? Have you worked on anything recently with them?
Stalley: Yeah we have a couple things that we worked on for Ski Beatz 24 Hour Karate School…
HipHopWired: Yeah, I heard about that. How’d you hook up with Ski Beatz?
Stalley: It’s the same thing, I hooked up with him at DD172 through Dame Dash and the guys over at Creative Control. It was kind of like a mutual thing too and ever since then we’ve just been working.
HipHopWired: Speaking of Dame, it’s crazy that you’ve only been pursuing rap seriously for two years now and you’re working with him and Mos and Ski Beatz. Who do you really credit for getting you together with all these people? Is this divine intervention? Is this you??? (Laughs)
Stalley: (Laughs) It is really like fate. Honestly I guess I’ve been at the right place at the right time. I was introduced to Creative Control by a friend who took me to meet them and I wanted to shoot some visuals and the first song I let them hear was Autobiography and that was my first video. We shot it in 30 minutes, edited up and released it the next day. That was really the first video that Creative Control put out to the blogs online and we got a real good response and that’s how I met Dame. It’s just been like family ever since.
HipHopWired: So let’s switch gears here, we have to talk about the beard. It’s like your signature, you played off it for your “S.T.A.L.L.E.Y.” video, is this part of your religion—is it a Sunni or is this just like your personal choice?
Stalley: Well it’s a little bit of both. It is a Sunni, it’s part of my religion but I started growing my beard when I started my music. I kind of wanted a fresh start and it was a new chapter in my life so I wanted something to go along the journey with me as I started to become an artist. It’s just something that’s always stuck with me and it just got popular. (Laughs) It is strength, it is growth and it’s something that I look at that inspires me. It’s been with me as long as I’ve been doing the music and it’s just something that’s a part of me, my brand and my movement.
HipHopWired: So the beard is sticking around then, it’s always gonna be Stalley and the beard.
Stalley: Yeah it has to! (Laughs) And that’s another thing, it’s something that’s started with me so I would feel bad if I cut it off.
HipHopWired: Let’s move on now. Tell me about this new ITM EP you’re working on. Is it finished? What’s the progress on that?
Stalley: It’s not but I’m hoping to have it finished by June. It is something that’s coming together pretty good, getting together some production. We got Ski Beatz on some and some from my partner from Ohio named Rashad. It’s gonna be ill. I’m also working on a project with Ski Beatz, we’re about six songs in.
HipHopWired: So let’s start wrapping things up now. It’s been two years since you really started your career, so where do you see yourself two years from now?
Stalley: Everywhere! Two years from now I expect to be a household name and continuing to make classic, timeless music and just having fun enjoying what I’m doing; traveling the world, enjoying life. That’s where I see myself.
Photo Credit: Ernest Estime