Cameron Giles is not the only rapper who used to get it in Ohio. Stalley, the Blue Collar Gang founder and Maybach Music Group member still puts on for the Double O despite having lived in New York for years now. Well, that’s not entirely true. A more accurate way of putting it would be that he still reps Ohio even though he’s been living on the road for the past few years.
Such is life when you’re a part of rap’s most visible collective, MMG. Their boss Rick Ross hit a pretty rough patch after the debacle that was his verse on Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” but Wale’s album topped Billboard this past June while Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers 2 broke Datpiff.com with 2.5 million downloads, setting a record for the site. And of course Stalley is releasing his first mixtape since last year’s Savage Journey To The American Dream today. Honest Cowboy finds the Midwest native concentrating on making his presence felt around the world. Most critics are on board, often hailing Stalley as MMG’s true lyricist, but his popularity still pales in comparison to radio mainstays like Meek Mill and Wale.
We sat down with Stallley to ask him, among other things, if it bothered him that he hadn’t reached the popularity of some of his label mates. As always, he had some thoughtful insight to share about that as well as his overall position at the label. Savage Journey indeed.
What’s up Stalley? Missed you at Alife the other day. How’d it go over there?
The turnout was overwhelming. It was a last minute thing. It rained. People still came out to support. It was love. I hadn’t been around [NYC] in awhile and I just wanted to come back to my home at Alife to revisit the place where a lot of this stuff was set into motion.
Where you at now and where are you going next?
I’m in Charlotte, N.C. right now. I’ve just been doing domestic spot dates right now. Everything is promo for the mixtape. I’m doing signings and in-store appearances and going up to radio stations. Everything. My fans deserve it.
Plans to take it overseas yet?
Not just yet, but yeah we’re heading to Europe real soon–have a show in Prague and the U.K. and a couple of other cities out there. I’m excited. It’s always good to see the fans out there show up and show out.
So tell me about the new project Honest Cowboy?
It’s a mixtape, but you know I treat anything with my name on it like a full on album or project. So I reached out to some cold lyricist like Schoolboy Q and some dope producers like Cardo and I got some beats by DJ Quik. Matter of fact, Quik mixed the whole album.
Wow! Quik? That’s ill. How are your raps?
Oh, on this one the penmanship is amazing. I carefully craft my lyrics because this is going to be around forever so you have to do your best every time out. If not you might get remembered for some wack shit and taint your whole legacy.
Very true. How are things over at MMG?
MMG stuff is going great. Everyone is just supporting one another. We got Self Made 3 coming out Sept 17. Meek got new Dreams Chasers 3 coming out. My project comes out [today]. We’re just hitting back to back to back.
What do you think you bring to the fold at MMG?
I bring that uniqueness, a different voice. A different reason, you know what I mean? I’m from the Midwest so I’m a little different. But Cowboy still has that classic original Midwest difference sound for ridin’ ’round enjoying good music and good chronic. Swangin’, y’ know?
How much weed do you smoke? Is it for work or for recreation?
Smoking is something to help you think. I don’t know about other people, but if there’s too much going on in my life I can get writer’s block. With a lot on my mind [weed] helps me concentrate. I can block things out or fall into a zone with my work. But I do use it also for recreation. Like I’ve said, I’m a Midwest kid at heart, so I just like to ride around and relax.
Are you purposely playing the position of “minor league” rapper while Meek and Wale score Number 1 albums?
We’re all trying to get to that number one spot. Ain’t no playing no positions over here. We’re all trying to win. But we all have our own lanes so we’re all successful already.
What makes you feel you’re successful?
Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Khaled, 2 Chainz… they listen to my music and know my lyrics. It’s so crazy when not only peers, but OGs, are checking for you and now you’re music. I ran into Cee Lo [Green] in LA. He tells me he’s waiting on my album to come out. They’re checking for me. I grew up admiring those guys. To get that respect makes me feel successful.
Plan on collaborating with any of the people who you just listed?
Yeah man, we working. Right now got collabs with Schoolboy Q and a few other cats. I think people like my collaborations because to me it’s a vibe you get from a person. Me and Spitta are bros. Me and Rozay, you can hear it that we’re seeing eye to eye. I can do records with anyone, but it’s bout the chemistry while working together that makes fans gravitate to it.
Follow J. Pablo on Twitter: @AvenueP
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 8, 2013