The Massillon, Ohio representative is perhaps the most low-key artist on the label full of boisterous characters, but Stalley prefers to let his music be his voice to the people.
The man born Kyle Myricks has built a loyal fanbase through well received projects such as the Ohio album, the Honest Cowboy EP, and The Laughing Introvert mixtape. But his mission for his latest collection Saving Yusuf is to simultaneously take his core followers back to early efforts such as Lincoln Way Nights and Savage Journey To The American Dream while also stamping his name as one of the most talented emcees of the era.
Even with the pressure that comes from making such declarations, Stalley is not afraid to proclaim Saving Yusuf his best body of work to date. The usually reserved rapper also believes his pen game and songwriting ability is at an all time high. He is even ready to take on the tag of his favorite NFL quarterback by labeling himself the “Peyton Manning of Hip Hop.”
“I’m consistent. I’m great,” Stalley tells AllHipHop.com about the comparison to the future Hall Of Fame football player. “I might not have all the flashy things that the other artists have, but I’m a winner. And dudes can’t outrap me.”
The Saving Yusuf mixtape arrives just in time for Stalley’s 10-city “From Me To You” Tour starting today (January 26) in Kansas City, Missouri. Fans will get to experience the Blue Collar Gang leader perform new cuts such as “808z” and “Cut A Rug” in more personal settings.
Before Stalley dropped his new tape, he spoke with AllHipHop’s Yohance Kyles about the tour, staying out of the conflicts involving his MMG counterparts, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and more.
You’re about to head back out on tour. What can fans expect from this run?
A lot of energy and more intimacy. This time I selected smaller venues. It’s called the “From Me To You” Tour, and I really wanted to give back to the people who’ve been supporting me from day one.
I wanted to be in the smaller venues that fit anywhere between 400 to 600 people to be able to really touch, build, and connect with the fans. I want to give them something where we can all sweat together, feel each other’s energy, and really have a good time.
You typically drop a project about once a year. This is your second body of work in about five months.
I wanted to make sure that I not only got back with the fans, but I definitely wanted to provide music to give them a body of work to start the year off right. Usually it maybe two projects a year, but this year I plan to do a little bit more as far as music goes. It’s back to me creating the music the way I want to create it. Nobody’s involved. Nobody’s holding me back. I’m just focusing on me and my fans.
One of your recent verses was on Rick Ross’ “Staring Through My Rearview.” You mentioned Tamir Rice on the song. Being from Ohio, what was your reaction when you found out the cop [that killed him] was not being indicted?
Brokenhearted. Sad. It’s just one of those things that keeps happening over and over again to us as a community and as black people. It’s the same story – a cop killing another innocent kid. I try to put it in the music. Hopefully, that will reach our community of Hip Hop to help us be better and try to be a louder voice, so we can start getting some type of justice.
Also listening to your verse on that song, it seemed like you were making a statement about rappers and the imagery they promote in their music.
Yeah, it’s terrible. [laughs] Again, I wanted to open eyes and let people know there’s a lot of real stuff going on daily. Life is happening, and I feel like we get so drowned out with the music being promoted heavily with drugs, women, and flashy things. Importance seems to be placed on that more than it is these innocent kids, poverty, and all the issues that we have in our community.
Sometimes you hear artists say, “Well, I’m just telling the story that I know. This is the life that I’ve experienced.” How do you balance being authentic in your music but also not pushing it too far where it does just become promoting negative imagery?
Those people who say, “I’m just saying what I know or my lifestyle that I live” – I think they know more, but they choose to only give a certain part of it. I try to give all sides. I know the same things they know, and I’m also aware of the real things that’s going on. So I try to promote both. And I try to give it in my way and tell the story the way I know. That’s all I can really do.
I can’t speak for them. I can hopefully say things that encourage others to take a stand, maybe say something different, or step their bars up. I guess the ones that are the “media darlings” get the attention. They don’t promote what we really need to promote. That’s what I was really calling out.
It’s been a lot going on with MMG over the last year, but you’ve managed to stay out of the feuds involving Ross, Meek, and Wale. How did you manage to keep yourself apart from that?
I think everybody who’s seen me over the years with MMG – I’ve always been one who stays to myself. This is not a choice that I make. It’s just who I am. I’m still with the family. I’m still part of it, but I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum. Hence, The Laughing Introvert.
A lot of people might say I don’t fit in or I’m the weirdo or I’m trying to be different – whatever they may say – but this is just who I am and who I will continue to be. Just because I don’t indulge or interact with those things doesn’t mean that I’m not aware or I’m not a part of it.
I’m not into those type of games. I don’t got no problems with nobody. I don’t try to make issues with anyone. I just stay to myself. I stay out the way and let them move how they move.
I even see that reflected in your music, because you don’t typically have a lot of features on your projects.
Exactly. For me with the features, I rock with people who rock with me. I want to make great music. I don’t want to put pieces together. I want the music to be natural and come across authentic.
Most of the people you see featured on the projects from the past, those are real friends, whether they’re big names, some of my homies, or up-and-coming artists. I just vibed with whoever vibes with me, and whoever I make good music with. That’s the goal for me. It’s not about being part of the popular crowd.
A lot of people just grab names like, “I gotta get this person. He’s hot right now.” That’s never been me. I feel like I can make a great song with my homeboy next door the same way I can make a great song with somebody the world considers to be popping right now.
You’ve been outspoken about social issues. You’ve also talked about your faith as a Muslim. How do you feel about Donald Trump saying he wants to ban all Muslims from coming into the country and some of the other rhetoric from this political season?
It’s sad. It just shows you where America’s at mentally. Years and decades of this, and it’s still going on. The racism; he judgement; the stereotyping; the name calling; the finger pointing, it’s out of hand.
For [Trump] to say that he wants to ban, kick out, or not allow Muslims into this country, it’s just blasphemy. Muslims have helped build this country. Some of the most powerful people have been American Muslims. It’s sad to have somebody that ignorant be a voice for people to actually rally behind what he’s saying and take his message serious.
It’s also sad that we do have ISIS and people that give a bad name to Muslims, because they want to call themselves Muslims or be part of the Islamic culture. But just as ISIS is a terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan is a Christian terrorist group, if that’s what you want to say. It’s the same thing, so we should get all white supremacists out of here too.
You posted a statement online where you were talking about your first shows overseas. When you reflect back on the journey of your career – going from having to sleep on a friend’s sofa to where you are now – what thoughts cross through your mind?
Just being blessed. I appreciate those moments where I did have to sleep on couches and floors. It was all worth it. To feel that type of struggle or to pay those dues, I’m blessed. That’s one word I can say. I’ve been truly blessed. God has always got his hand on me, and He keeps me persistent and consistent in what I’m doing. That’s the thing I can really sum it up with. Just blessed.
Download/stream Stalley’s Saving Yusuf below.