You might remember reading about Stalley in Dime #58, but since then he’s been around the globe and back again. From Beijing to London to his hometown of Massillon, Ohio, Stalley is set to release his next project, Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music), next week. With that, we caught up with him while he was back home shooting with MTV to talk about the album, college hoops and who the Cavs should take with the No. 1 pick this June.
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Dime: So where are you right now?
Stalley: I’m in Cleveland shooting a piece with MTV. Just a small feature where they come back home with me and I show ’em all the attractions. I took ’em to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, my high school (Massillon Washington High School), my old neighborhood and Lincoln Way. My new project is called Lincoln Way Nights, so I wanted to show them where I’m from and things that made me who I am.
Dime: Now I’ve heard about Lincoln Way, but explain it to those who haven’t.
Stalley: Lincoln Way is a strip that runs through Massillon and Canton and turns into another street. It’s like Broadway in NYC â€“ just one big street and everything is pretty much on it. The reason I called this project Lincoln Way Nights is because we used to pile in the street at night with muscle cars, big wheels and people would cruise up and down showing their cars and looking for girls.
We’d park in the K-Mart parking lot and battle each other’s systems. You know, play music loud and see whose system was the loudest. We’d have fun just hanging out. And the crazy thing is that this still goes on. In the summer it can be any night, but it’s mainly Friday and Saturday night. This was happening all during my childhood. The first time I went was when I was 12 – even before I could drive. And then I’d be there all throughout high school.
Dime: Speaking of high school, do you still keep in touch with your basketball coach?
Stalley: I do. I still speak to him and visit him. There’s a video of me on YouTube (see below) traveling back and talking with him about ball. He was there with me for all four years. We’ll reminisce about the games we had back in high school, going up against LeBron.
Dime: Are there any other teachers you’re still close with?
Stalley: My calculus teacher was a big influence in my life. She shaped me through my years as a student. I try to make it back as much as possible.
Dime: How do you think the video for “Slapp” turned out? Is it a good representation of the Lincoln Way culture?
Stalley: Yeah, I’m excited because I definitely think it’s a good representation of Lincoln Way and the type of things we do. People pullin’ in and out, showing off their cars. The car culture is really big, and the video shows us having fun and bringing that culture to the world â€“ that’s how we ride. I’ve been so overwhelmed and happy with the response I’ve been getting. It’s more of a fun song, not as lyrical as I normally get, but the people are feeling it. The whole project doesn’t sound like that, but some songs do. I wanted that to be the feature track for the project so people could get a feel for where the sound is going.
Dime: How important is it to you to get out and perform?
Stalley: To me, that’s the most important part, and it’s been one of the biggest things to help my career so far. Being in front of a crowd is big for me. You wanna see how they see you. If you’re not familiar with my music, come to one of my shows and I’m sure I can win you over. I can’t say enough about doing shows. The new faces get me excited. I get up for every show knowing that there are people in the crowd who have no idea who I am.
Dime: Where are the best places you’ve performed?
Stalley: Oh man, my first show back home in Ohio was amazing. It was sold out. And then being able to go to Beijing and to London for shows, those were unreal. We’re setting up stuff now from when Lincoln Way Nights drops. We have a store release party at Mishka on the Feb. 11 and then after that we’ll head to D.C. and Baltimore. From there we go to the West Coast for shows in Washington and Cali before heading to South by Southwest in Texas. We’re pretty much on the road going to as many different places as possible.
Dime: Where did you record the album?
Stalley: I actually recorded this whole project in Columbus, Ohio. I worked with only one producer (Rashad Thomas) on the whole project and he’s from Columbus, so I got to come back home to Ohio and record â€“ and that’s a big thing and a big part of the sounds, the concepts and the lyrics. It was a good feeling after doing music for three years to be back at home in Ohio and soak up the energy and the vibe. It gave me a chance to chop it up with old friends and family.
Dime: So where to from here? What’s the next move?
Stalley: I’m kind of just taking it day by day. My ultimate goal is to build my brand and get into as many avenues as possible. I want to align my brand with as many people that have my focus, and to continue to make music and grow my fan base. I just want to work hard and continue to focus and build my brand.
Dime: Speaking of brand, clearly your beard has become a huge part of your identity. You feel like you have to keep that forever now?
Stalley: I can’t say forever, but I don’t have any plans to cut it. It’s definitely something that’s a part of my brand and a part of me. I never thought people would pay attention to the beard like they do, but it’s a good thing. I like it. It’s my logo, on stickers, everything. It’d be like if Jordan didn’t want the Jumpman logo anymore and wanted to have his tongue be the emblem. Or if LeBron wanted to shed the lion. You can’t.
Dime: You’re from Ohio but played ball at Michigan. Who do you like in college basketball this season?
Stalley: You have to like Ohio State. I like [Jared] Sullinger a lot and hope they do it. I’ve always been an Ohio State supporter being from Ohio, and this season they’re looking good. Pitt is looking good. Kentucky and Kansas are looking good. There’s some pretty solid teams. And then there’s Duke of course. I hate to see ‘Cuse lose a couple because I’m a big fan of Jim Boeheim. I’ve met him a couple times and I like what he does with that program every year.
Dime: What’s up with your Cavs?
Stalley: (laughs) We’re struggling.
Dime: If you get the No. 1 pick in the Draft this June, who would you take?
Stalley: That’s a good question. Kyrie [Irving] is definitely someone who can help, but Sullinger is someone you can build a team around. They could use both of them. We’ll see. I just hope they win some games, but if they do get the No. 1 pick, they’ll make the right decision.
Dime: Is Sullinger a Stalley fan?
Stalley: (laughs) I don’t know. I need to ask him. The producer actually went to the same high school as him, but he didn’t play high school sports. We gotta make him a fan.
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Check out the video for “Slapp,” which was directed by Coodie & Chike of Creative Control, below. You can also download the track HERE.
Follow Stalley on Twitter at @Stalley.
Become a fan of Stalley on Facebook HERE.
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