Stalley is living proof that with hard work, dedication and passion anything is possible. 4 short years ago, Stalley had dreams of playing basketball as a profession, and after a severe injury, he followed his second passion, Hip-Hop. All the hard work grinding on the mixtape circuit paid off when it led him to signing with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group last year. I caught up with Stalley during his stay here in Chicago to discuss his newest project, working with MMG and his feelings about Lebron James.
Gabe: This is your 4th or 5th stop in Chicago, what do you think about the city when you come here? What are some of your favorite spots to eat, or go visit?
Stalley: I love the City, I love just cruising it, it’s beautiful, the architecture is beautiful, it feels great to be in Chicago because I live in New York now but I’m from Ohio. It feels like Ohio and New York in one. That’s why I really like Chicago. I love checking out Giordano’s, Harold’s, I haven’t gotten to go to McArthur’s, I heard I should go there, maybe I’ll try to get there before I get out of here.
Gabe: Good Deal. So now you’re in New York, you brought up Pizza. Who has the better Pizza?
Gabe: Hands down?
Stalley: I don’t know if it’s hands down. It’s two different styles, they have the big slice, you guys got the deep dish. I probably prefer a deep-dish slice from Chicago over a big New York slice.
Gabe: Let’s get in to the music. Late last September you dropped the trailer clip for”Assassins,” which was supposed to be a short mini movie. What can you tell us about that? What’s the status on it? Are we’ll see it anytime soon?
Stalley: I don’t know man. I hope. There’s a lot of complications with that. But, it’s definitely a short movie. I mean short film. It’s definitely a great visual, and a great video, I hope to put it out but ther are some clearance issues. So we’ll see though. But definitely.
Gabe: Today it was announced that on March 30th your new project, Savage Journey of The American Dream is going to be coming out. I’ve seen in an interview, that you were working with the Cool Kids, Chuck Inglish on some of the production, what else can you tell us about it?
Stalley: Me and Chuck did “Party Heart” with Ross and 2 Chainz that was on Rich Forever. As far as Savage Journey, me and him we didn’t have a record on that project but we’re going to do something in the future. I do have Soundtrakk from Chicago, one of Chicago’s own, Soundtrakk is on the project. I got some production from Chad Hugo from the Neptunes and also the Block Beattaz, a group of producers from Huntsville, Alabama.
Gabe: Your last mixtape, Lincoln Way Nights has been out for a year now or so, and it’s still buzzing, and still in my earphones and a lot of speakers. It sounded much more like an album than a mixtape, why didn’t you decide to put it out as an album and at least receive some monetary value from it?
Stalley: I’m not in it for that especially not at this moment. My goal is to basically just put out good quality timeless classic music and build a fan base. I’m very new. I been doing music for four years, I just want people to get used to me. I want them to understand who I am as an artist, and as a man also with the quality of music I put out I want them to know that it will never be less than album quality. It’s only going to get better. When people hear Savage Journey, The America Dream they’re going to be like “Why did I give it away?” It sounds more like an album than Lincoln Way Nights, and that’s what people felt about Lincoln Way Nights, but I take a lot of time and put a lot of energy and thought in to all the projects I put out, I just want to put out flawless projects.
Gabe: That almost sounds like a motto at Maybach Music, because you had Rick Ross put out the Rich Forever mixtape, which was album quality that he gave away for free, and then with your music, Wale, and Meek Mill. Is that the way you guys work and function, that everything is album quality even if you’re handing it out for free?
Stalley: Yeah, definitely. That’s what we want to do. We want to have timeless, flawless catalogues. We want to be known as the label and the group that puts out great music, and we never slack and we want to make sure everything is good down to the visuals and the artwork and so forth. That’s all we work for is perfection. That’s why it’s called Maybach Music because that vehicle is flawless and well designed vehicle. That’s what we want the vehicle of our music to be known as.
Gabe: Since being down with MMG, what have you taken away from working with Rick Ross and the rest of the crew? How has being part of MMG enhanced you being an artist and as a performer?
Stalley: Like you said before, everybody takes time, and puts a lot of energy in to their craft. That’s one thing I can say, is the work ethic over at Maybach is unmatched. You’re around Wale, Meek and Ross, the studio and you’ll think they weren’t signed. They didn’t put out albums before. They work like it’s new, and that’s what I learned and pretty much gotten from them the most.
Gabe: Let’s talk about the Dojo, Ski Beatz and Curren$y. What do those relationships mean to you?
Stalley: They mean everything. That’s where it kind of where the beginning of my career began to blossom, being around those guys. Again, that’s another group of guys that’s very artistic and talent and put a lot of thought and energy in to their music. I have been blessed to be around artists that really take pride in what they do and put out quality music and have work ethics that are unmatched. I guess I attract that because my energy is the same.
Gabe: A lot of people don’t know that you once played ball against Lebron James, and you’re a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. What are your feelings now about Lebron James, a year or so later after the Decision, and I heard in a interview you did when somebody asked who you wanted to slap because you had the song “Slapp” out and Lebron James was one of the people you wanted to lay it down on. Are your feelings still a little bit bitter after the Decision?
Stalley: Nah. I’m over it. Lebron is a good dude, there was a bit of bitterness with the Decision and that’s just me being a fan, and an Ohioan and knowing where he came from. You know we’re like 15 minutes away from each other where we grew up. He’s from Akron, I’m from Massillion. It’s about 15 minutes up the highway, you want to see that hometown guy stick around and bring the glory to the promised land. Things happen, we’re all men, and it’s a business and we have to make choices and decisions that fit us the best in our lives. So it’s hats off, he’s taking care of business and held his head in a good light basically. He hasn’t done anything else to make you want to slap him (laughs), I’m definitely rooting for him this year. I hope he gets that ring and everything works out.
Gabe: I don’t. I’m glad you do. (laughs)
Stalley: Of course you don’t (laughs)
Gabe: You have a basketball background, it wasn’t that long ago you were pursuing basketball as profession, then you jumped in to music. Is there any connection between being a basketball player and an artist?
Stalley: That work. You have to put in work. Just like you have to shoot jumpers and run and train. You have to do the same with the pen, you got to keep your mind sharp, keep your chops sharp, practice on different ways to approach tracks. Different flows. It’s very similar. Basically what you put in to it is what you get out of it. I think that goes the same for sports and music.
Gabe: You got injured while playing ball, which led you in to music. You did school, you did the nine to five, the job thing and ended up here. If you didn’t end up in music what do you think you would be doing?
Stalley: Aw man. That’s a good question too. I don’t know. Probably, or eventually I would be somewhere teaching in high school or college. Professor. That’s what I always wanted to do if I wasn’t doing sports and music. I wanted to always be able to help educate.
Gabe: Would you keep the beard if you were a teacher? (laughs)
Stalley: Of course (laughs).
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